Turns out there’s a likely reason the Queen costumes on ‘Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story’ are outdated, and it’s related to King George III’s condition.
In 2023, no one wants to live in the present. Y2K fashion has never been more popular. There’s an Anne Hathaway renaissance. The live-action reimagining of the ’90s childhood classic The Little Mermaid is set to be the biggest blockbuster of the summer. It would appear that King George III and the Queen in the newly released series Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story share this fixation on the past.
In case you didn’t recently binge the full series like so many of us, the Shonda Rhimes production is a Bridgerton prequel that focuses on Queen Charlotte’s rise to power in the mid-1700s and the love story between her and King George III. While it has all the usual trappings of the popular Regency-era drama (opulent sets, handsome men, sexy sex scenes), it also offers a new explanation for the historical inaccuracies of the Queen’s costumes in the original series and how it relates to King George III’s condition.
To refresh your memory, the first season of Bridgerton is set in Regency Era England around 1813. In tandem with the times, the costumes featured looser corsets, empire waists and pastel colours, as seen on characters like Daphne, Eloise and later the Sharma sisters. This is because after the 1700s, women were done with the giant crinolines and frilly embellishments that defined the Rococo and Georgian period. Silhouettes became much more streamlined and, frankly, comfier to wear, and a general “quiet luxury” attitude was adopted
Queen Charlotte, on the other hand, rejects this. Looking more like Marie Antoinette than Elizabeth Bennet, her skirts are wide, her corsets are tight and luxuriously adorned, and my god, the wigs! As with all historical fiction, Bridgerton has never been entirely accurate, so many waved this off as creative license and continued to ogle the Duke of Hastings. However, the new series hints that Charlotte is wearing these outdated clothes for her husband.
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As any history buff or Hamilton enthusiast can tell you, King George III, or “Mad King George,” suffered many illnesses, but historians have debated the exact classification for centuries. The most popular theories list dementia, bipolar disorder, porphyria (a hereditary physical condition that can cause hallucinations) or a combination of all three. Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story doesn’t shy away from this but instead makes it a central plot point and an ongoing conflict between the two newlyweds. Charlotte’s role is to remind George of who and where he is when his condition takes over, ultimately bringing the two closer together.
Thirty years later, it’s as if the Queen is frozen in time along with her husband: She still wears the same silhouette that she did when they first met. Now perhaps she’s simply stuck in a style rut, but many fans have theorized that she’s doing it with the hope that her husband is more likely to remember her if he recognizes her clothing. Charlotte has spent her whole reign looking after King George III and his condition, so naturally she’d be eager to do anything to help him.
She’s also sentimental for the past: for a time when George was healthier, their marriage was thriving and she wasn’t as burdened by constant caregiving. And as we’ve seen during the pandemic, we reach for nostalgia in uncertain times, and what could be more uncertain than being a royal in the 1800s?
So will Charlotte’s outdated ensembles continue in the upcoming third season of Bridgerton? That remains to be seen, but if the King is still alive, we’d assume so. If not, that makes the question a whole lot more interesting.