If you’re a fan of the Bridgerton series, you were likely thrilled when Netflix released its prequel, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story. This latest addition to the Bridgerton universe has certainly lived up to the hype, bringing back the drama and allure to the Regency era, and its exquisite modern take on Regency fashion. The series also provides a deeper look into the fascinating life of Queen Charlotte and her love story with her husband, King George.
In the first two seasons, Queen Charlotte takes over the monarchy as King George struggles with his mental health, but the prequel series sheds light on the personal challenges of King George. We will explore and understand what’s the historical context of King George’s condition.
The Love Between King George and Queen Charlotte
The union between Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and King George III is an intriguing tale of love and enduring partnership during the Regency period. Their story began in 1761 when Princess Charlotte, a German noble, took a fateful step in marrying King George III of England.
The events that ensued were almost like a fairy tale, with the English king going out of his way to support Charlotte and elevate her position in the royal court. It was clear that he had developed a deep affection for the German Princess. In a matter of hours, married and Charlotte was crowned the queen of England. However, their happiness was short-lived as the King’s mental health took a turn for the worse.
What Happened to King George?
Historically, individuals like King George who struggled with their mental health challenges were often misunderstood and not appropriately managed by professionals or society. Fortunately, with the advancement of modern science and technology, it is now possible to accurately diagnose and treat those who are struggling with their mental health. Using the knowledge gained from today’s advanced scientific research, we can gain insights and better understand what may have affected King George’s mental health.
King George’s Personal Struggles
In the Netflix series Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, King George III is portrayed as experiencing periods of incoherent babbling and hallucinations. His erratic behavior includes writing on walls and professing his love to Venus, the Goddess of Love, while naked. Dr. Warren explains that such behavior aligns with the manifestations of porphyria, which can lead individuals to exhibit sleeplessness, incoherence, and babbling.
One of the most severe episodes in King George’s life occurred in 1788, which led to significant behavioral changes. During this period, he suffered from hallucinations, incoherent speech, inappropriate advances toward women, and violent convulsions that necessitated physical restraint. Some peculiar anecdotes from this time include King George burying a steak, believing it would grow into a beef tree, and trying to shake hands with an oak tree he thought was the King of Prussia.
Another theory attributing to King George’s erratic behavior is porphyria, a group of rare disorders resulting from the buildup of porphyrins in the body. Which causes symptoms of nerve and brain toxicity.
By analyzing historical records and available data, researchers have found the presence of arsenic in the king’s hair. This arsenic is believed to have stemmed from the medications prescribed to King George. However, in recent years, the bipolar disorder type I theory has gained more importance than the porphyria theory.
Modern Diagnosis for King George
Recent research suggests that the real King George III, renowned for his bouts of madness, might have been dealing with bipolar disorder instead of porphyria. One study analyzed the letters written by King George from 1760 to 1820 using computer programming to interpret and read them. The study suggests King George showed signs of acute mania and may have had bipolar disorder type I.
Historical records also reveal that King George exhibited symptoms of depression and mania as early as 1765 when he was 27 years old. Some scholars also believe that he might have experienced dementia in his later years. By 1811, his physician, Robert Willis, noted that the King displayed signs of delirium, hallucinations, and irritability, which made it necessary to restrain the King.
King George’s Passing
During his later years, King George’s condition became increasingly debilitating, Parliament decided to appoint his son, George VI, as Prince Regent. Queen Charlotte became the King’s primary caretaker, taking care of his well-being until she died from pneumonia at the age of 74 in 1818. King George outlived his wife until he passed away at Windsor Castle on January 19, 1820. His final years were marked by blindness, deafness, and persistent mental health challenges, as documented by the Royal Family’s official website.
While King George’s true story is undeniably sad, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story offers a fresh perspective on the character, allowing viewers to witness the fictional Charlotte and George’s moments of happiness and love. The series is now available for streaming on Netflix, providing a captivating glimpse into the Regency era and a deeper understanding of King George’s struggles during his reign.