How Does Mental Illness Affect George & Charlotte’s Love Story In ‘Queen Charlotte’ Series?


Health is such a huge factor in our lives. We connect it directly to the ability to live a “full life” versus one of the compromises limited by inadequate health. Even when it comes to the physically challenged, the world constantly fails them by not acknowledging them as part of society. A simple example would be the lack of places around you that are accessible through wheelchairs. Movie theaters, shopping malls, or even supermarkets are such common places for social meetings, but a significant part of the population cannot access them due to the lack of a simple additional ramp. This is just one tiny example of how we, as a society, are not empathetic towards the differently-abled. If we could be so blatantly disregardful of something so visible, how would we ever learn to accommodate the various needs of mental health? Despite the outpouring of dialogue around us, most people still don’t have a grasp of the basics of mental health.

It also cannot be ignored that we lack equitable social and economic systems, which are necessary to take care of mental health as a community. It is all about a race—the race to get ahead in your career, marry on time, and have children on time, who are then pushed into a race of their own. These are not just general markers of what a person may or may not want from life but are termed as “achievements.” A career is not a sustainable way to earn a living but an achievement. Marriage is not about companionship but about an achievement, a way to measure how “far ahead you are in life.” Make it make sense.

Amidst it all, we forget the key ingredient: happiness. We are living life, but where are we taking the time to focus on the joy of it? Certainly, humans weren’t designed to live this way, and mental health issues like depression and anxiety are proof of that. George of “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story” is facing something similar. Right from his birth, he was never “just George,” as he so desperately wanted to be. He was the King. He couldn’t make mistakes. He couldn’t have any interests other than what was required of a king. It did not matter that he was happy. He just needed to be powerful so that he could leave behind his abusive grandfather and make a safe life for himself and his mother. “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story” has taken quite a few creative liberties with the depiction of mental health. But the one thing it has gotten right is what it means to love someone with mental illness. Shonda Rhimes really put her heart into this one.

It’s a fact not just limited to the Regency era but even now, there is a stigma associated with being in a relationship with someone with a mental illness. They are people with high emotional needs, and even when they are taking care of themselves with therapy, medications, and a routine designed for their optimum mental health, they might often need their partner to do more than their fair share of emotional labor. Additionally, it is also possible that they are unable to be there for their partners when they need them. George and Charlotte go through something similar. We saw it in their love story as they got older. They shared a deep love between them, and as Lady Danbury says to Violet Bridgerton, their garden “is always in bloom.”

But again, Charlotte cannot meet George daily to tell him about her day; she cannot ask for his advice on things that bother her; she cannot share the season’s latest gossip with him; she cannot even have a joke between them, a new one at least since memory doesn’t serve George well. But whenever George sees her, he is glad that she did not jump over the wall, as is Charlotte. They are two good people who love each other and have a healthy amount of respect for each other as well. But it takes a lot more than that for lifelong companionship. Charlotte has had a lonely life, taking on the responsibilities of the family and, occasionally, of the state as the queen and the protector of her husband. She is a strong woman who is more than capable of the job, but the point is that she is doing it alone. Even Brimsley points out that had the King passed away; she would have eventually moved on. But currently, she is in love and bound in a relationship that has left her alone. It is also not easy to watch the person you love sink further and further into the depths of mental illness. Maybe that is why Charlotte so fervently asked whether the King was dead instead of asking whether anything was the matter with him.

As for George, we get more of his perspective in his younger days. The wisest thing for him to do would have been to let Charlotte climb over the wall. There would have been a scandal, and another bride would have been found for him, one who George would not have fallen in love with and who would have been ideal for his “duties.” But love is foolish and cannot see beyond what it wants. George wanted Charlotte, and though he knew that he would have to spend the better part of their marriage hiding from her, he did not want to let her go. It is true that mental illness breeds doubt in people’s minds, making them question whether they are worthy of love when they cannot bring their all to the table. That is precisely what George struggled with and what Charlotte had to fight against. She not only had to convince him to accept her love but also had to tell herself that she would be able to love him. They both took their time learning their way around each other, and it proved to be a fruitful endeavor. But we still can’t answer whether Charlotte should have jumped over the wall or not. Maybe a person who did not love George would not have been as kind to him, but then, the love and kindness did not save the two lovebirds from their loneliness. However, some questions are not for us to ask but for the concerned people to enjoy while discussing the transit of Venus under the bed, as George and Charlotte often do.

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Divya Malladi
Divya Malladi
Divya spends way more time on Netflix and regrets most of what she watches. Hence she has too many opinions that she tries to put to productive spin through her writings. Her New Year resolution is to know that her opinions are validated.

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