The long-awaited Bridgerton spin-off series has been released on Netflix, delving into the past and present of three powerful women in the original show. With a dual timeline and three major storylines, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story delicately explores issues of marriage, mental health and grief and how they were handled in 18th-century England.
Both period pieces are loosely inspired by the real monarchy of the time but also deal with social constraints on both women and men in the upper class. Dressed in extravagant fabrics and clad with poise, the prequel influences the way we perceive characters and relationships in Bridgerton and provides a backstory for the characters’ decisions and motivations. And of course, we see the origins of Queen Charlotte’s outrageous wigs.
How ‘Queen Charlotte’ Fits With ‘Bridgerton’s Timeline
Operating on two distinctly different timelines, Queen Charlotte explicitly connects past decisions and events to the present. The black opening scene with typewritten white letters and the sultry voice of Lady Whistledown (Julie Andrews) fades in, setting up the historical roots of the fictional story and making it acutely clear to us that the events of this series take place before Bridgerton.
We are first introduced to the younger version of Queen Charlotte in Germany with the perfect casting choice of India Amarteifio, a British actress who masterfully plays the sassy but scared role of Charlotte. It begins with 17-year-old Charlotte receiving the news of her wedding to Prince George III of England (Corey Mylchreest), a wedding that took place in September 1761 in real life.
Assuming the show based the timeline on the historical events that inspired it, the wedding in the show would have been at a similar time. The rest of this storyline covers around one and a half years, as Charlotte is confined in Buckingham Palace for her long faux honeymoon and gives birth to an heir.
The “present-day” timeline is unclear at first, but it is confirmed in Episodes 2 and 5 that they are in the months and the end of Bridgerton Season 2 but preceding the final scenes. During the Queen’s (Golda Rosheuvel) tea with Lady Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmel) and Lady Agatha Danbury (Adjoa Andoh), the Queen asks Violet how she managed to arrange two of her children’s marriages in two years.
We saw her eldest daughter’s wedding in the first season of Bridgerton and her eldest son’s love story in the second, indicating the events took place after the vibrant social season of that year. This is also reflected in the more dull and dreary ambiance of this timeline, rich with cool tones in lieu of the pastel ones in the original. But it is in Violet and Agatha’s conversation in the art exhibition in the sixth episode that confirms that Anthony (Johnathan Bailey) is on his honeymoon.
The second season of Bridgerton concluded with Anthony and Kate (Simone Ashley) returning from their six-month honeymoon, enjoying a summery day at Bridgerton’s ancestral home. As such, the events of the series must occur between the chaos of the Featherington Ball and the feel-good epilogue.
How the Events of ‘Queen Charlotte’ Influence ‘Bridgerton’
As the title suggests, the Netflix series centers around the origins of Queen Charlotte, particularly her tumultuous marriage and how she gradually shouldered and accepted her role as the queen. So naturally, the series mainly expands on how we interpret the Queen’s actions and obsessions in Bridgerton.
We witness how she is bartered as a contact point to tidy up alliances between Germany and the British Empire: thrust into a marriage with a stranger and into a crown attached with responsibilities she is yet to comprehend. As she discovers her husband’s mental health issues and its hindrance in his ability to rule, she learns to take up the reins and fulfill the duties of a queen.
In Bridgerton, Queen Charlotte is the face of the monarchy. Her husband’s deterioration forces him behind closed doors and the Prince Regent is rarely mentioned. Queen Charlotte demonstrates how Charlotte became such a dominant force; it was through trials and tribulations that caused her to grip her power so tightly, fearful that any slight mistake may lose her husband’s precarious hold on the crown.
The queen’s desperation is also why she is so threatened by Lady Whistledown. As a royal woman, her primary sphere of power was the social scene. She may not have a direct hand in the political or economic side of the ruling, but she indirectly impacted them by ensuring the monarchy’s public image remained shiny. Her knack for subtle political moves is demonstrated in the final episode of the series, as she hosts a ball to prove to the Parliament that George was fit to rule while being able to support him.
She embodies this social dominance throughout Bridgerton by micromanaging the social season through her naming of the “diamond” and her input in relationships while also competing with and trying to track down Lady Whistledown. Both Queen Charlotte and Lady Whistledown have profound impacts on the social scene of England, thus to preserve the monarchy’s power, the queen goes head-to-head with Lady Whistldown in Season 2 of Bridgerton.
As the first Black queen, Charlotte also incites the “Great Experiment,” and although this is a major issue that is repeated, it is mainly mentioned alongside the expectation for Charlotte to create an heir while the social environment for the black population is underdeveloped.
It is primarily Agatha who pioneers this change with regular meetings with the prince’s mother and constantly reminding Charlotte of her duty to the non-white community. Despite being slightly neglected, it does explain how we see a diverse and accepted community in the original series as well as Lady Agatha’s position as the queen’s confidant.
What ‘Queen Charlotte’ Foreshadows for Season 3 of ‘Bridgerton’
Queen Charlotte doesn’t only enhance the story of Bridgerton, it also subtly hints at complicated relationships and new ones in the upcoming season. Lady Agatha’s storyline revolves around her marital sexual assault and her fight for Black representation and acceptance in the ton. Her torturous experience with marriage solidified her resolve to remain an unmarried widow, carrying into the Bridgerton timeline, but it also resulted in a secret dalliance with Violet’s father, who was also a married man. By the end of the series, Violet discovers one of her father’s distinct paper birthday hats at Agatha’s home, suspecting an illicit affair.
With this new secret pervading their friendship, the drama between them is bound to occur in Season 3. There is also a chance for Violet to have a love interest as she confides in Agatha about her “blooming garden” and feels like she was betraying her late husband because of it. Both shows deftly dive into the nuances of marriages and womanhood in the Regency period, creating a timeline that follows the tragic journey that empowered three immaculate women.