Shonda Rhimes' addition of a fictionalized version of the real-life Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Queen of Great Britain and of Ireland as the wife of King George III, was a surprising choice in Bridgerton's first season. The Julia Quinn novels on which the show is based are very traditional regency romances in that they focus on romantic adventures of those in the mid-to-lower ranks of the aristocracy without getting into the royal highness of it all. However, Rhimes' canny addition, which leans into the claims Charlotte was directly descended from the Spanish moors and England's first Black queen, turned out to be the show's secret strength.
But the question remains if Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel) is strong enough to stand on her own. In the series, her marriage to George (James Fleet), from September 1761 until her death in 1818, is in its twilight years as George III's madness (here played as under-diagnosed dementia traditionally associated with Alzheimer's disease) leaves her an emotional widow living with the ghost of her former love. As a sad tale driving her to help young girls follow their hearts, it works; the matchmaking and balls are a distraction from her grief. But as a centeral story, it seemed like it might be too sad for viewers.
However, with the release of the official trailer, and new images for the upcoming prequel series centering on her, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, it seems the series will focus on the good times, not the bad. Despite the present-day (aka Regency era) framing of the limited series, which gives the show an excuse to do an extended flashback, nearly everything seems to focus on the Georgian era of the 1760s, which is an under-covered era in period dramas. From the hair to the dresses, this looks like a sumptuous dive into a fantasy of a world that Netflix viewers will be discovering for the first time.
Here's the series' logline via Netflix.
Centered on Queen Charlotte's rise to prominence and power, this Bridgerton-verse prequel tells the story of how the young Queen's marriage to King George sparked both a great love story and a societal shift, creating the world of the Ton inherited by the characters in Bridgerton.
Rosheuvel reprises her role as the aging Queen Charlotte from Bridgerton, with Fleet in a guest role as her ailing husband. Adjoa Andoh and Ruth Gemmell also return from the main Bridgerton series as the pair of widows, Lady Agatha Danbury and Lady Violet Bridgerton, the latter of whom is the matriarch of the titular clan. In addition to the trio, Hugh Sachs appears as the current iteration of Queen Charlotte's right-hand man, Brimsley.
The new cast stars India Amarteifio (Line of Duty) as Queen-to-Be Princess Sophia Charlotte, with Corey Mylchreest (The Sandman) as the King she's sent to marry, George III. Newcomer Arsema Thomas plays the newly married Lady Agatha Danbury, and Connie Jenkins-Greig (Mr. Selfridge) as Lady Violet Ledger, debuting in her first season on the marriage mart. Sam Clemmett (The War Below) rounds out the younger cast as Brimsley, newly assigned to attend the German Princess about to rule England and Ireland.
The rest of the cast all play newcomers to the Bridgerton universe, including Michelle Fairley (Gangs of London), who plays Princess Augusta, Freddie Dennis (The Nevers) as Reynolds, Richard Cunningham (The Witcher) as Lord Bute, Tunji Kasim (Nancy Drew) as Adolphus, Rob Maloney (Casualty) as the Royal Doctor, Keir Charles (Flesh & Blood) as Lord Ledger, Katie Brayben (Miss Scarlet and The Duke) as Lady Ledger, and Cyril Nri (Cucumber) as Lord Danbury.
Shonda Rhimes serves as showrunner, writer, and executive producer on the series, with Tom Verica directing all episodes. Bridgerton EP Betsy Beers also executive produces the limited series spinoff.
Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story will arrive with all six episodes on Netflix on Friday, May 4, 2023. The novelization of the new story, written by Julia Quinn, will be available in bookstores and for download on the same day.