It was important to keep in mind that Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story is by no means a love story. It tells the tale of how the Queen came to be who she was. There are several connections between the television show and real life, and Charlotte did have 15 children, 13 of whom lived. Although Charlotte took over when George was imprisoned because of his illness, she must have ruled society like in the series because George did rule for a very long period. When we first arrived in Bridgerton, we were struck by the notion that marriages—a private union between two people—needed the Queen’s consent to take place, making it a political transaction. Although it seems absurd, it would be naive to believe that much has changed since then.
As in England during the Regency era, a person’s social and economic standing still matters when deciding whether to marry them. If we are being honest, if you look at some Asian houses or closer at the popular arranged marriage system across cultures, love is still seen as a foolish undertaking. Women have been labeled as being less clever throughout history for a variety of reasons, but their pursuit of love has been the main one—as if desiring something so fundamentally human means a deficiency in brain cells. In either case, marriage is rarely a romantic idea given the social disadvantages that the majority of women experience. Perhaps this explains why romantic fantasies about love are typically aimed towards women. It’s the enticement used to sell them on the marriage and persuade them to put in the bulk of the emotional and social work for the bare minimum in the hopes of finding illusive love with a made-up person who looks good on paper but is troublesome in real life. However, Charlotte was brought up to be a responsible person, so it’s likely that she never anticipated to fall in love.
As we saw at the start of Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, it was obvious from the beginning that her marriage was a contract. She does mention how much she is willing to give in while Charlotte is getting ready for her wedding and inquires about her intended spouse. Charlotte had already given her unmarried prospective husband the bare minimum. She only made plans to flee when she began to worry that he would be violent or otherwise inappropriate. Even after their wedding, when George continued to ignore her, Charlotte first asked him if she had made a mistake. We also noticed that she seemed to accept George’s explanation that he had been ignoring her because he was focused on stars and planets as if it made sense. Charlotte understood from away that being married was a responsibility and that love could only happen by chance. In the pursuit of this fortunate coincidence, the fate of Great Britain could not be compromised.
We believe it’s crucial to keep in mind that Charlotte was only 17 years old when she was married and had such difficult choices. Throughout her trip, Charlotte was told that she was not her own person and that every last fiber of her being belonged to the Crown, whether it was the option to marry George, to consummate as a duty, or even whether she should continue the relationship or not. Charlotte does admit that she has never desired a life like that. She was also told that she shouldn’t want anything because her life wasn’t her own. Charlotte’s life is saved thanks to Lady Danbury’s counsel at this crucial moment. She advises the Queen to use her own strength of will to achieve her goals, and from that point forward, we know that is exactly what happens.
Let’s pretend for a while though that Charlotte had never developed feelings for George. Like Lady Danbury, she would not have wanted his company beyond her obligation to bear children. Although that may be hard to hear, we don’t think George was much different from Lord Danbury. Before he met Charlotte, George believed that the only reason he was acquiring a queen was to produce an heir and carry out his job since Lord Danbury believed that women were only suitable for reproduction. Let’s assume he never did develop feelings for Charlotte. Was what he did at the time justifiable by that? Let’s not forget that George told Reynolds that the reason he was doing this for Charlotte’s protection was because she was smart and beautiful. Does that imply that he was permitted to treat her as if she were less attractive and didn’t have a nearly as smart mouth? Charlotte and George fall in love, but it does not make Charlotte’s life any better. As Charlotte grew older and had to be content with herself for companionship, we think she realized this. Despite spending all those years at the palace, when she asks her servants who they work for, they reply, “The king,” and only acknowledge her when she makes it clear to Brimsley.
Marriage is not a system founded on love, and in most cases, logic prevails over feeling. Although Charlotte was well aware of that, she never questioned it. Every time Charlotte tried to assert her independence, she was repeatedly let down. She was reminded that she lacked autonomy when she left the palace as a result of the abuse she endured while pregnant. That lesson—that marriage came first, not her—had been ingrained in her soul. Brimsley was right when he asserted that Charlotte would have gone through a period of mourning if George had really died before moving on. But she was confined to a life she found difficult to love. Charlotte, though, asserted that this was how things were handled. She didn’t care whether or not her children fell in love precisely for that reason. Like it had been for her, their responsibility came before their wishes and ambitions.
Perhaps Charlotte wishes they wouldn’t fall in love because she now had more challenges than before due of this love. She would have an easier time because there wouldn’t be any arguments or expectations if she didn’t love George. That, however, was not the case. Love situations are not ideal when there are often few options and opportunities for equality in society. Charlotte did love George and had a better life than most women, so perhaps if she had a second chance at life, she would still choose to wed George. But even if it did, it would not alter the fact that she would never regard love as a need, despite the loneliness and suffering it causes. She had no other options, so she did not think it would be a good idea for her kids.