Ever since Bridgerton first premiered on Netflix in 2020, Queen Charlotte (played by Golda Rosheuvel) quickly established herself as a fan-favourite for how she runs the ton’s complex marriage mart during the 19th Century London’s social season. It makes sense for the stylish monarch to get a spin-off prequel from the six-episode limited series Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.
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Created, written, and produced by Shonda Rhimes, the series’s narrative is set many years before the events in the present-day Bridgerton-verse and follows a young Queen Charlotte (India Amarteifio) right after she arrives in England to marry the mysterious King George III (played by Corey Mylchreest).
Queen Charlotte’s Origin Story
When we first meet the soon-to-be monarch, she’s a 17-year-old German princess less than pleased with the marriage her brother arranged. She even tries escaping her wedding by jumping over a wall, where the meet-cute with her future husband takes place. Utterly charmed by the handsome King, Charlotte goes through with the wedding, and they live happily ever after. But it’s not quite that simple.
The series starts with a wedding, but the pair still have a lot to learn about each other, with George hiding a secret that makes him act distant to the point of separating from Charlotte on their wedding night. Her husband’s unexplained behaviour, coupled with finding herself in the role of Queen of a strange new country, only baffles and confuses the young woman.
Charlotte’s arrival is the catalyst for what the series dubs the “Great Experiment.” Faced with the prospect of a Queen who’s not white, George’s mother, the Dowager Princess Augusta (Michelle Fairley), offers nobility titles to society’s wealthy people of colour. It’s a daring move, and whether it succeeds depends solely on the Royal marriage.
Among those awarded newly minted titles is a young Agatha Danbury (Arsema Thomas). Stuck in a loveless marriage with a much older man, Agatha sees the new Queen’s arrival as an opportunity to establish herself within the ton.
We also get to spend some time with a young Viscountess, Violet Bridgerton (Connie Jenkins-Greig), decades before she became the matriarch we’ve grown to love in the series. As it turns out, there’s quite an interesting and unexpected connection between Violet and Agatha.
Bridgerton’s uncanny diversity for a series set in 18th Century London has been questioned, so the prequel addresses it. Queen Charlotte (as in the fictional Queen Charlotte) was directly involved in creating the desegregated ton we’ve seen on the show.
Present day Bridgeton-verse
The show moves back and forth from young Charlotte’s story to the present-day Bridgerton-verse, where it catches up with the Queen, Lady Danbury, and Viscountess Violet Bridgerton (with Golda Rosheuvel, Adjoa Andoh, and Ruth Gemmell reprising their roles as the characters we all know and love).
In the present time, Queen Charlotte’s matchmaking skills are tested as the King’s succession is under threat. While Lady Danbury and Violet’s friendship faces an interesting challenge, it ultimately brings them closer together.
Is Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story worth watching?
As a spin-off set in the same universe, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story has all the elements that made the original series one of Netflix’s best. There’s a compelling story, steamy scenes, stunning costumes, impressive hairstyles, and, of course, the string quartet playing classical renditions of well-known pop songs.
The series offers plenty of emotional scenes and comedic moments during its six episodes that will surely become iconic.
All the young actors do a fantastic job considering they’ve been tasked with portraying versions of well-established characters within the Bridgerton universe.
India Amarteifio stands out in her performance as Charlotte. Watching the monarch grow into her power as Queen while navigating a complex situation she’s been thrown into is delightful. As is watching the bond between Charlotte and George go from initial attraction to confusion, hate, and, finally, a lifetime of devotion and acceptance to one another.
Overall, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story perfectly encapsulates the Bridgerton universe. It works well as a prequel but can also be enjoyed as a stand-alone. For show fans, it gives valuable context and insight into these characters’ worlds.
Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story is currently streaming on Netflix.