In Netflix’s prequel to Bridgerton, Queen Charlotte’s children, particularly her daughters, are a bit of a sensitive issue for the reigning monarch.
In episode one, Charlotte storms into a room in Buckingham Palace to find her children; drunk, playing cards and smoking at 11 am. She seems disappointed in their brattish behavior when they tell her they have “business” to attend to. “By business, do you mean fornicating with your mistresses? Or do you mean producing more bastards for me to ignore?” One son, Prince Edward, responds that there are “impressionable” ladies present, meaning his sisters, to which Charlotte claps back: “Impressionable? Trust me, Edward, no sexual innuendo makes an impression upon your sisters. I wish it did, that they would get ideas to get married and start fornicating so I might have legitimate grandbabies.” She goes on to explain that the monarchy is at a crisis point when the only heir to the throne has passed. She implores her children to get cracking to ensure the continuation of their father’s line. “Make me a royal baby,” she demands as she exits the room.
Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story follows the rise of Queen Charlotte (India Amarteifio) in British regency and her marriage to George III (Corey Mylchreest). The series offers an insight with some historical accuracy although in the opening of episode one, the show’s narrator Lady Whistledown warns us that this was not a history lesson and instead, loosely based upon fact with much of Shona Rhimes’ poetic license, so to speak. However, there is accuracy with regard to how many children Queen Charlotte and King George shared.
Who were Queen Charlotte’s children?
Queen Charlotte and King George III had 15 children total and 13 survived into adulthood. Their children, all adults by the time Bridgerton begins in the year 1813, never appeared onscreen but they do make appearances in Queen Charlotte and, as mentioned, the show portrays Charlotte as disappointed in her offspring.
- George, Prince of Wales and later King George IV (born 1762)
- Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany (born 1763)
- Prince William, Duke of Clarence (born 1765)
- Charlotte, Princess Royal (born 1766)
- Prince Edward, Duke of Kent (born 1766)
- Princess Augusta Sophia (born 1768)
- Princess Elizabeth (born 1770)
- Prince Ernest, Duke of Cumberland (born 1771)
- Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex (born 1773)
- Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge (born 1774)
- Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester (born 1776)
- Princess Sophia (born 1777)
- Prince Octavius (born 1779)
- Prince Alfred (born 1780)
- Princess Amelia (born 1783)
The two children that died young were Prince Aldred and Prince Octavius. Alfred was the 14th child of King George III and Queen Charlotte. He became ill and died at age two after his inoculation with the smallpox virus. Octavius was the couple’s 13th child. Six months after the death of his brother Prince Alfred after a smallpox inoculation, Octavius was also inoculated with the virus. He became ill and died just a few days later at age four. Per the Royal Collection Trust, Queen Charlotte wrote to a friend: “In less than eight and forty hours was my son Octavius, in perfect health, sick and struck with death immediately”.
At the time, immunizing people against the brutal disease involved a small sample of infected matter deliberately introduced into the body in order to prevent the full disease from developing. The young boys’ death from inoculation was not representative of its success: there was merely a two-percent death rate compared to 14 percent of those that contracted the virus via infection. Thanks to this early iteration of vaccination, smallpox was declared eradicated by the World Health Organization in 1980.
“Our Queen Charlotte is based on and inspired by a real person but is a fictional construct. We have made a beautiful, fantastical show with the hope that it makes people stop and wonder, ‘Actually, who was this remarkable woman?’ and go to find out more,” Golda Rosheuvel told Harper’s Bazaar. “Because she deserves it. She was part of the abolitionist movement; she knew Mozart; was a great patron of the arts.”
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