“Bridgerton” garnered acclaim for reimagining British royalty and incorporating modern elements. The romance, the characters, the pop culture references, and, of course, the elaborate garments worked brilliantly in the first season. The second season was quite a mixed bag; the lack of research, especially with regards to its Indian characters, was quite evident. Even though “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story” is not the third season, it is fair to compare the six-episode limited series with its predecessors. The orchestral version of pop music is still there, and the extravagant execution is pleasing to watch, but still there is something missing in this Bridgerton story.
While some might disagree, I thought Queen Charlotte was one of the most intriguing characters in “Bridgerton.” Inspired by the 18th-century Queen of Great Britain and Ireland, the reimagination is rooted in the controversy over Queen Charlotte’s identity. Some historians are convinced that even though she was a German, her facial features demonstrated that she carried the Moor genes of her distant ancestors, making her Britain’s first black Queen. While the theory is heavily debated, Golda Rosheuvel was a delight to watch on screen as Queen Charlotte in the “Bridgerton” series. We have come across the Queen’s arrogance, coldness, and dry humor, and in “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story,” we finally get to watch how she evolved from seventeen-year-old Mecklenburg-Strelitz royalty to become the Queen of Great Britain and Ireland.
The series is divided into two timelines: one delves into the past, while the other focuses on the Queen’s growing anxiety about the absence of an heir to the throne. With the death of her granddaughter, Charlotte felt an urgency to make sure that she left behind an heir. After giving birth to fifteen children, she was disappointed that none of them cared enough to keep the family name alive. They were not interested in committing for life, and even if they did, their choice left the Queen unimpressed. While her son worried about not finding love in the matchmaking process, Charlotte reminded him that love is a choice that one makes. She did not get to choose the man she married, but she chose to hold on to him even when it got tough.
The past timeline revolves around the life of teenage Charlotte. She struggled to comprehend why she was chosen to become Queen, and she decided to escape, fearing that the King was perhaps a troll. It was while trying to climb the garden wall that Charlotte met King George III. The person she assumed to be a troll was a fairly handsome gentleman. After their brief encounter, Charlotte agreed to marry the King. She was kept in the dark about the King’s condition, and that eventually became the greatest hurdle to overcome in their marriage. The past also deals with the life of Lady Agatha Danbury. Groomed from the age of three to marry Lord Danbury, Agatha plays a crucial role in creating a space for her community. She was always honest about her opinions with the Queen, and it was her frankness that brought her close to her. Agatha helped Charlotte realize how important “the great experiment” was for her people and inspired her to look beyond her own happiness.
Queen Charlotte is not just the distressed Queen to the mad King. She is powerful, strong-willed, and, most importantly, a lover who never gave up. India Amarteifio, as the feisty young Charlotte, was captivating to watch. Romance is key in the Bridgerton world, and in “Queen Charlotte,” the romantic spark and sexual tension between the King and the Queen are palpable. After overcoming the initial differences, there was no stopping them. The secret affair between the King’s man, Reynolds, and the Queen’s man, Brimsley, was an interesting addition. For those watching just for the romance, “Queen Charlotte” is a no-brainer.
I strongly believe that the prequel could have been a compact 2-hour film instead of a six-episode series. At one point, the series becomes too repetitive and lingers longer than required. The character of King George III could have been more explored. Apart from the fits and a few glimpses of the treatment, we do not get to know the King all that well. The lack of strong supporting characters is another reason for its dullness. Lady Danbury, brilliantly played by Adjoa Andoh and Arsema Thomas, is the only saving grace. To avoid stirring any controversies, Shonda Rhimes clearly states that the series is a work of fiction that is inspired by facts, so if you are still whining about the historical inaccuracies, well, according to Rhimes, they were intentional. While, of course, it is dramatized, “Queen Charlotte” has a few important little details that are associated with the real Queen Charlotte sprinkled all across the six episodes. A young Mozart playing a piece for the Queen, her obsession with the Christmas tree decoration, Brimsley complimenting her for introducing the Christmas tree tradition to Britain and its colonies, and Sir Allan Ramsay painting her portrait are nods to history.
“Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story” is neither a massive hit nor a complete miss. The series is decent enough for a casual watch, though I must warn you that it will get a little too monotonous. If you enjoy watching all things royal, then the opulent set design, the extravagant garments, and the creative hairstyles and makeup will not leave you disappointed. There is an evident lack of story in the prequel; I truly wish a few more characters were introduced to make it interesting. The problem with the prequel is that we all know the story, we know what happens in the end, and we can guess how it went, so there is an overall lack of surprise. Also, if we are taking the fiction route, then why not use it to its full potential? If you have watched “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story,” let us know what you thought about it.