Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story focuses on Charlotte’s marriage to King George with a key narrative being the mental illness that the British monarch suffered from.
King George and Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz are at the center of the period piece with the creators incorporating King George’s real-life illness as an integral plot point.
George cares for Charlotte considerably but he keeps her at a distance so that she doesn’t have to see him when he’s having a manic episode. His condition also puts his seat on the throne in jeopardy with him turning to extreme treatment as a result.
Bridgerton already established George’s mental state and this series dives deeper into it and explores how Charlotte finds out about it and her response.
The pressures of being king
The first signs of the illness appear to the audience soon after a conversation between George and his mother where George complains about how lonely his life has been as king, trying to maintain the standards that everyone expects of him.
Charlotte overhears this conversation and walks away after hearing her husband state that he married her and consummated the marriage because it was his duty to do so.
On Coronation Day, Brimsley observes George being examined by a doctor in the cellar and questions Reynolds but the King’s Man assures him that George is alright.
When Charlotte brings it up with George, he brushes it off as a routine check-up and claims that there is nothing wrong with him. However, she eventually finds out when he has one of his episodes while they are spending the night together following the Danbury Ball.
King George, Farmer George
It is later revealed that George had been suffering from this illness for quite some time and when his mother first broke the news that his future wife was on a ship headed their way, it triggered an episode in front of several members of the court.
Multiple physicians concurred over what he might be suffering from but Dr John Monro is the first to suggest that the king might be mentally ill. He adds that he has spent his entire life treating people with such disorders and knows how to combat the problem.
Dr. Monro believes that the nerves in George’s brain are disorganized and the cure is to discipline the mind. After Charlotte and George make love for the first time, George asks Dr. Monro to use his most experimental treatments so that he may get better for his wife.
The treatment includes ice baths, and subjecting George to significant pain through leeches and beatings so that his mind learns to obey orders.
After moving to Buckingham House, George ceases his treatment as he feels he’s doing better with Charlotte by his side despite Dr. Monro’s protests. That is until she sees him during one of his fits.
After finding out that he is ill, Charlotte confronts Princess Augusta about being lied to and George overhears the conversation. Feeling guilty for putting Charlotte in this position, he goes back to Dr. Monro once again and the physician clamps down hard with his methods.
In sickness and in health
With Princess Augusta staying at Buckingham House while Charlotte is pregnant and George receiving his treatments at Kew, the Queen spends her days writing letters to her husband and growing more frustrated as time passes.
She sends for her brother so that she may leave the country and when he refuses, she visits Lady Danbury and insists on staying there. Lady Danbury has an honest conversation with her about deciding her own destiny.
Charlotte heads for Kew and orders that George be moved back to Buckingham House while dismissing Dr. Monro from his post. Princess Augusta warns Charlotte that George cannot simply hide to keep his illness a secret but Charlotte is confident that he’s getting better.
She turns out to be mistaken when George suffers a fit on his way to make a speech at parliament. She assures him that they will find a way through this together and promises to be by his side and ground him whenever he feels an episode coming on.
This is established later on when an older Charlotte visits King George to tell him that their son will produce an heir and continue their line.