We did not like King George, at least not for the better part of “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.” He constantly disappeared from Charlotte’s life, and to be honest, he gaslighted her a lot. Once we came to know what he was suffering from, our anger softened and even turned into sympathy for him. We can acknowledge that he is a good man after all, but he doesn’t rank up there with the other Bridgerton leads. However, maybe he never intended to. Even though this series is part of the Bridgerton franchise, this is not a love story. King George was never meant to make us swoon over him. He was part of the story of Queen Charlotte and what made her human instead of the authoritative figure with ridiculous hairdos, as we saw in the previous seasons.
King George was introduced to the world not through the series but through the trailer that was released a few months before, which showcased the first interaction between him and Charlotte as he stopped her from jumping through the wall. We knew right away, as George confessed later on, that it was that moment that he fell in love with Charlotte, as she did with him. But when we actually watch the series, we know that it was far from his intention. He wanted to escape the wedding as much as Charlotte, and had it been any other woman, he might have helped her jump across the wall. But love makes one selfish, and King George did exactly what he should not have; he brought Charlotte into a life of lies.
From a conversation between Princess Augusta and Lady Danbury, we can make a guess at how George’s troubles started. Upon the untimely death of George’s father, he and his mother were taken care of by his grandfather. In Augusta’s words, he was a “brute” who was not above inflicting physical violence on his family. Both mother and son had to endure that, and the only way out for them was to gain some power of their own. George was the heir apparent anyway, but their dire situation added to his responsibilities. Augusta and George’s grandfather must have put that extra pressure on him to leave no room for error for their own reasons. Augusta needed to make sure that her life was not in the hands of a cruel man, and George’s grandfather was just being cruel. As George once said, he was constantly told that even the tiniest mistake of his could mean the “ruin of England.” Imagine growing up in an environment like that.
That is probably how King George’s panic attacks started. We are simply theorizing here, and in the extension of that, we believe the culture of secrecy added to George’s misery. He was a solitary man who refused to socialize because of his condition. A large part of George’s actions seems to be inspired by his belief that he would harm the people around him. But from what we saw, he never looked dangerous to us. Therefore, we must wonder where this belief of his came from. What convinced him that he was a danger to others around him. It could be the ignorance of the times when any mental health affliction was seen as an abomination. There was no concept of anxiety or bipolar disorder, which we suspect is what plagued George. We know that a lot of his initial treatment involved bleeding him out, restricting his diet, and other severe means. Then comes Doctor Munro, who was right in his theory that George needed to talk, which is the modern-day idea behind therapy. But alas, Munro’s talking was not about letting the person in front open up to him but about making his own assumptions about them and then planning a “treatment” without any certifiable monitoring technique of its progress. We believe that Doctor Munro started with the right idea, but somewhere along the way, his sadism took over.
He enjoyed the power he had over the king. He liked telling King George that he was no good and that he was his master. He loved that he could inflict as much pain as he wanted on George, the King of England, and nobody could fault him for it. Any doctor worth their salt checks the progress of their patients, but Munro did not bother with that. Why would he need George’s progress when he had his submission?
Charlotte eventually rescued George from Munro, but we believe the damage had already been done by then. The trauma inflicted by Doctor Munro’s methods had just exacerbated George’s condition. George had lived his life in fear of doing something wrong, and Munro did nothing to help that; instead, he inflicted bodily harm, the kind the mind doesn’t recover from. When Charlotte finally spent time with George after letting go of Munro, she believed that her love and care would heal him. It did work, to an extent. It was Charlotte’s love that helped George overcome some of his social anxiety and function as a true king. But we must remember that Charlotte was no therapist either. She only had a limited capacity for understanding and caregiving, which might have been helpful but was certainly not enough.
George and Charlotte are based on the real-life king and queen of the time. King George was actually rumored to be afflicted with a genetic disorder named “porphyria.” Much has been said about his supposed “madness” in real life, and the series seems to take notes from there. Anxiety, seizures, and hallucinations are some of the symptoms that the onscreen George has portrayed when shown to be afflicted with this problem. In the series as in real life, we know that love does not cure all. Charlotte and George faced their fair share of problems in life. Upholding the monarchy was of utmost importance, sometimes at the cost of their own love and happiness. But maybe that is what it means when it is said that love conquers all because the disappointments of life did not get in the way of George and Charlotte’s affection for one another. Despite all the loneliness, troubles, and heartaches, when they were together, they were still just George and Charlotte, who had fallen in love with each other and remained as such. This is more than what most people get in a lifetime.