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Royal Reality & Mental Health: Exploring Netflix's 'Queen Charlotte'

Updated: Nov 5, 2023

Screen snap of King George and Queen Charlotte
'You & Me' King George and Queen Charlotte

In a world where mental health has become an ever more vital conversation, Netflix’s new release "Queen Charlotte" is pushing these discussions to the forefront in an unusual way. The show has successfully weaved fact and fiction, illuminating the tragic reality of King George III's mental health decline – a subject that often resides in the shadows of history. As the most buzzed-about show currently, "Queen Charlotte" is gently opening the dialogue on mental health, even in the realm of royalty.

The series, an emotional journey through eight captivating episodes, has enraptured audiences with its impeccable casting and deeply moving narrative. The tender romance and enduring union between Queen Charlotte, brilliantly portrayed by India Amarteifio, and King George III, played by Cory Mylchreest, provide the heart of the series. But an undercurrent of melancholy permeates their story as the audience bears witness to King George's deteriorating mental health – a narrative thread rooted in historical fact.

Historians and academics have long debated the nature of King George III's mental health condition. The moniker "Mad King George" hints at the monarch's struggles during his reign from 1760 until his passing in 1820. At the time, mental health understanding was in its infancy, and treatments were rudimentary at best. The King's symptoms, which included convulsions, incoherence, and a gradual loss of hearing, vision, memory, and mobility, were broadly labeled as "madness" and treated as such with methods we now see as inhumane, such as solitary confinement and the application of arsenic powder.

Once, it was widely accepted that King George III suffered from porphyria. However, recent research, including a study from St. George's, University of London, challenges this long-held belief, suggesting that the king may have instead suffered from a psychiatric illness. The most prevalent theory in recent times is that King George III may have been struggling with bipolar disorder.

The real-life King George III's deteriorating health eventually rendered him incapable of performing his royal duties. His son, Prince George, later King George IV, assumed the responsibilities as the Prince Regent until his father's demise in 1820.

"Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story" pays homage to these historical narratives. The series does not shy away from representing King George III's struggles with mental health, but instead, it sensitively approaches the topic with grace and humanity. The series also does a commendable job in highlighting the hardships faced by Queen Charlotte, as she struggles to navigate her husband's illness, a topic further expanded upon in the original "Bridgerton" series.

As the story of King George III unfolds in "Queen Charlotte", it is a stark reminder that mental illness knows no boundaries of rank or privilege. The tale of King George III and Queen Charlotte serves as a gentle but powerful reminder of the importance of compassion, understanding, and support in the face of mental illness. And just like in real life, where the struggle for mental health can be a hidden battle for many, "Queen Charlotte" reveals that even for royalty, life is not always a fairytale.

"Queen Charlotte" is still available on Netflix. I recommend you watch this beautiful, tear-jerking series. Bring tissues.

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