The brand-new Netflix show, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, chronicles the early years of Queen Charlotte and King George's marriage. In a separate timeline, Queen Charlotte also explores the crisis an older Queen Charlotte has following the death of her granddaughter, Princess Charlotte of Wales.
As Lady Whistledown narrates, "While our hearts grieve for the loss of the princess royal, our heads grieve more for the future of the monarchy itself. For the Crown now has a crisis on its hands. A crisis one can only imagine that Queen Charlotte must find galling after ruling over the matchmaking efforts of the ton and the marriage mart with such an iron fist. This author and all of England can only hope that Queen Charlotte finally turns her matchmaking energies onto her own family. After all, Her Majesty has 13 children, and now, not a royal heir from any of them. At least, not a legitimate one."
In episode one, viewers see Queen Charlotte upset with her children for not having legitimate marriages, and thus not providing any legitimate heirs to the throne. She admonishes all of them for being "virgins to the left of me, whores to the right," and not giving her "legitimate grandbabies."
"The only heir to the throne is dead," she tells her children. "I am stating facts: The princesses have had no babies, the princes have had a record number of babies. Illegitimate whore babies. We had one heir, one royal, and she is gone. Children, this is a crisis." She commands, "One of you had better produce the next ruler of the United Kingdom, or your father's line dies with him. Make me a royal baby."
While much of Queen Charlotte is fictional, including depicting Charlotte as a Black woman (though some historians do believe the real Charlotte had distant African ancestry, she was, by all accounts, a white German noble), this succession crisis was based in fact. In 1817, when Princess Charlotte of Wales died, she was the only legitimate granddaughter of King George and Queen Charlotte. Eventually, George and Charlotte's fourth son, Prince Edward, would have an heir: Princess Alexandrina Victoria—who would also later be known as Queen Victoria.
Queen Charlotte and King George III married on September 8, 1761, when George was 22 and Charlotte was 17 years old. Over the course of their 57 years of marriage, the royals welcomed 15 children, 13 of whom lived to adulthood. If we confine Queen Charlotte and King George III's family tree just to legitimate heirs, it looks like this:
b. 1744 — d. 1818
Queen Charlotte, born Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz on May 19, 1744, was the daughter of Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Princess Elizabeth Albertina of Saxe-Hildburghausen. She grew up at Untere Schloss (Lower Castle) in Mirow, in northern Germany, and married King George III when she was just 17 years old. A year later, gave birth to their first child. Charlotte was the UK's longest-serving Queen Consort, and died at age 74 at Dutch House (now Kew Palace) on November 17, 1818. Along with many other kings and queens, Charlotte is buried at St George's Chapel at Windsor Castle.
King George III
b. 1738 — d. 1820
King George III, born Prince George William Frederick of Wales on June 4, 1738, was the eldest son of Frederick, Prince of Wales and Augusta of Saxe-Gotha. His grandfather was King George II. When his father Prince Frederick died unexpectedly in 1751 at age 44, George became heir apparent. In 1760, George III became monarch when his grandfather died. During his 60-year reign, several major world events occurred, including the Seven Years War, the American Revolutionary War, and the Battle of Waterloo. Throughout his life, he suffered from mental illness, often manifesting as acute mania—contemporary historians think he may have had bipolar disorder, but there's no way to confirm this diagnosis. After he became unable to rule beginning in 1810, his eldest son became Prince Regent in 1811. He died on January 29, 1820 at the age of 81.
King George IV
b. 1762 — d. 1830
The eldest son of Charlotte and George, Prince George Augustus Frederick was born on August 17, 1762. In 1785, he secretly married Maria Anne Fitzherbert, but the marriage was invalid under English law because his father, the monarch, did not consent to the union. In 1795, he married his cousin, Princess Caroline of Brunswick, but they formally separated a year later after the birth of their daughter, Princess Charlotte of Wales, in 1796. She was his only legitimate daughter, and the heir to the throne. Sadly, she predeceased both her father and grandfather; Charlotte died in 1817 in childbirth.
Caroline and George remained married; however, in 1820, when the 57-year-old ascended to the throne as King George IV, he refused to recognize his wife Caroline as Queen, and excluded her from his coronation. She died shortly thereafter, in August 1821. He reigned for ten years, until his death on June 26, 1830.
Prince Frederick, Duke of York
b. 1763 — d. 1827
The second son of Charlotte and George, Prince Frederick Augustus was born on August 16, 1763. He had a career in the army, and his father appointed him Commander-in-Chief in 1795 (he resigned in 1809). He married Princess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia, but the two quickly separated. They had no children. After the death of Princess Charlotte, the Duke of York became his brother's heir. However, he predeceased his older brother, dying at age 63 on January 5, 1827.
King William IV
b. 1765 — d. 1837
The third son of Charlotte and George, Prince William Henry was born on August 21, 1765. Upon his birth, he was not expected to inherit the throne, and so he joined the Royal Navy, and fought in the American Revolutionary War in New York. Beginning in 1791, he lived with his mistress, Dorothea Bland, an Irish actress. Dorothea and William had ten illegitimate children. In 1811, the two split. In 1818, William married Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meinigen, but they had no surviving children. When his older brother died in 1830, he succeeded him as King William IV. And, until King Charles III in 2022, he became the oldest person to assume the British throne at age 64. He reigned for just seven years until his death on June 20, 1837 at age 71. Since he had no legitimate children, the throne passed to his niece, Princess Victoria.
Charlotte, Queen of Württemberg
b. 1766 — d. 1828
Princess Charlotte, the eldest daughter of Charlotte and George, was born on September 29, 1766. She received the title "Princess Royal" when she was 22 years old. In 1797, she married Frederick, Hereditary Prince of Württemberg, who became Duke of Württenberg shortly after their marriage. They had no surviving children. In 1805, Napoleon recognized her husband as King of Württenberg, making Charlotte Queen of Württenberg. After Frederick's death in 1816, Charlotte became the Dowager Queen. She died 12 years later.
Prince Edward, Duke of Kent and Strathearn
b. 1767 — d. 1820
Charlotte and George's fourth son, Prince Edward, was born on November 2, 1767. He served in the British army. In 1818, he married Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld, a widow. Her first husband, Emich Karl, 2nd Prince of Leiningen, died four years earlier; they had two children. Edward and Victoria had one child, Princess Alexandrina Victoria of Kent, born May 24, 1819. Princess Alexandrina became Queen Victoria upon the death of her uncle in 1837. More on Victoria's family tree here:
Prince Edward died on January 23, 1820, when his daughter was less than a year old.
Princess Augusta, Sophia
b. 1768 — d. 1840
The second daughter and sixth child of George and Charlotte, Princess Augusta Sophia was born on November 8, 1768. She made her society debut in 1782, at her father's birthday celebrations. She entered a secret romance with Sir Brent Spencer, an officer in the British Army and equerry to the King. The two were thought to be privately married. She died on September 22, 1840 at age 71.
b. 1770 — d. 1840
Princess Elizabeth, the third daughter of George and Charlotte, was born May 22, 1770. In her adulthood, she was linked to a few different men, but at age 47, she married Prince Frederick of Hesse-Homburg. They were married until his death in 1829. Elizabeth died in Germany, at age 69, on January 10, 1840.
Ernest Augustus, King of Hanover
b. 1771 — d. 1851
The fifth son of George and Charlotte, Prince Ernest Augustus, born June 5, 1771, was unlikely to inherit the throne. Upon the deaths of his elder brothers, his niece Princess Victoria inherited the British throne, and Ernest ascended to the Hanover throne. The Kingdom of Hanover had a personal union with the United Kingdom beginning in 1814, but ended in 1837 due to Salic law (if there were male heirs, a woman could not inherit the title). So, Ernest became King of Hanover in 1837 until his death in 1851.
Before becoming King of Hanover, he served in the British Army, and in 1815, he married his first cousin, Duchess Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. His mother, Queen Charlotte, opposed their marriage, and never received her daughter-in-law. Ernest died on November 18, 1851. He and Frederica had one son, Prince George of Cumberland (born May 27, 1819)—later King George V of Hanover, the last King of Hanover.
Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex
b. 1773 — d. 1843
Prince Augustus, born January 27, 1773, was the ninth child of Charlotte and George. Unlike his brothers, he did not have a career in the army or navy. He secretly married Lady Augusta Murray in Rome in 1793, and again in London later that year. The marriage was annulled a year later, because King George III never approved it, but the two continued to live together. They had two children: Augustus Frederick d'Este (b. 1794, d. 1848) and Augusta Emma d'Este (b. 1801, d. 1866), but since they were not of a legitimate marriage, they were not in the line of succession. In 1801, Augustus was created Duke of Sussex, Earl of Inverness, and Baron Arklow. After the death of Lady Augusta, he married—again not under the Royal Marriages Act, so it wasn't legitimate—Lady Cecilia Buggin in 1831. They had no children, but his niece Queen Victoria would later style Cecilia as Duchess of Inverness. He died in 1843.
The Duke of Sussex title wouldn't be used again until 2018, when Queen Elizabeth granted it to her grandson, Prince Harry. Meghan Markle, his wife, became the first-ever Duchess of Sussex.
Prince Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge
b. 1774 — d. 1850
Prince Adolphus, the tenth child and seventh son of Charlotte and George, was born February 24, 1774. In 1818, he married his second cousin, Princess Augusta of Hesse-Kassel, and they had three children: Prince George of Cambridge (b. 1819, d. 1904), Princess Augusta of Cambridge (b. 1822, d. 1916), and Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambrdige (b. 1833, d. 1897). Princess Mary Adelaide, notably, would go on to marry Francis, Duke of Teck; one of their children, Mary of Teck, would become Queen Consort of the United Kingdom.
Adolphus's eldest son only had illegitimate children, so the Duke of Cambridge title ended with him—it was revived in 2011 when Queen Elizabeth granted it to her grandson Prince William, upon his marriage to Kate Middleton.
Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester
b. 1776 — d. 1875
The fourth daughter of George and Charlotte, Princess Mary, was born on April 25, 1776. In spring 1792, she made her debut at court, and a few years later, she fell in love with a Dutch prince, Prince Frederick. She was not permitted to marry him, however, because her father said her older sisters should marry first. In 1799, Frederick died. Nearly two decades later, on July 22, 1816, Mary married her first cousin, Prince William Frederick, Duke of Gloucester and Edinburgh. (He was the son of King George III's brother.) He died in 1834; they had no children. Mary, who lived until age 81, was the last-surviving and longest-lived child of George and Charlotte.
b. 1777 — d. 1848
Princess Sophia, the twelfth child of George and Charlotte, was born on November 3, 1777. During her life she was rumored to have an illegitimate child, possibly with her father's chief equerry, Major-General Thomas Garth. She never married, and died on May 27, 1848 at age 70.
b. 1779 — d. 1783
George and Charlotte's 13th child, Prince Octavius, was born on February 23, 1779. Six months after his little brother Prince Alfred died, Octavius was given a smallpox vaccine, and then fell ill and died at age 4.
b. 1780 — d. 1782
The youngest son of George and Charlotte, Prince Alfred lived for just two years. He fell ill after being inoculated against smallpox, and never recovered. He was the first of George and Charlotte's children to die.
b. 1783 — d. 1810
Princess Amelia was George and Charlotte's youngest child, born after the deaths of Princes Octavius and Alfred. There was a 21-year age gap between Princess Amelia and Prince George Augustus, George and Charlotte's eldest child. Amelia was in poor health throughout her life, and when she was sent to the seaside to recover, Charles FitzRoy, an equerry, accompanied her. She fell in love with him, but they never legally married. She died on November 2, 1810, at age 27.