Spoilers for episode 1 of Queen Charlotte ahead. The highly-anticipated Bridgerton prequel Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story has finally arrived on Netflix. Premiering Thursday on the streaming giant, the six-episode spinoff from creator and showrunner Shonda Rhimes gives viewers a look at the titular monarch's (Golda Rosheuvel) early life, as she grows into the glamorous ruler and fan-favorite from the Regency-era hit. While the King George III and Queen Charlotte of the Bridgerton world are mostly fictional, the show also incorporates some real-life details in creating the young queen's storyline, portrayed by newcomer India Amarteifio.
In addition to the storyline starring the younger versions of Queen Charlotte, Lady Danbury (played by Arsema Thomas), and other Bridgerton favorites, the spinoff also spends time with the present-day aristocrats, giving viewers a look at what the members of the Ton get up to in the off-season. Read on for our breakdown of the new series' timelines and where they fall among the larger Bridgerton-verse.
The past storyline follows the first months of Charlotte's reign.
Queen Charlotte begins in the past, as an emissary from the U.K. travels to then 17-year-old Charlotte's home in northern Germany. By the end of the episode, Charlotte has met and gotten married to King George III (played by Corey Mylchreest in the prequel and James Fleet in Bridgerton), with the wedding happening on the same day that she arrives in England. The couple has a brief meeting before the wedding (as Charlotte's looking for a way to escape the castle), and both their chemistry and their natural teamwork are evident, with Charlotte deciding to go along with the wedding anyway. It's the next several months of their marriage that provides the true tests of the union, and the bulk of the past storyline.
As for what year the story takes place, the show doesn't specify when the wedding takes place beyond Charlotte's age at the time. The real-life Queen Charlotte and King George III were married in 1761, and since the show takes inspiration from the true history, it's likely that the fictional wedding takes place in the same year. The real-life royals were also married within six hours of their first meeting, through the garden meet-cute is likely a fictional invention.
George and Charlotte's union also introduces a new era of diversity in the Ton. Before Charlotte arrives in London, the city's upper crust was only populated by white families, while wealthy people of color were excluded from their balls, social clubs, and activities. In episode 1, when Augusta and the lords see that Charlotte is biracial, they quickly enact the Great Experiment, giving out titles and wedding invitations to some wealthy Black families. This is how young Agatha Danbury becomes Lady Danbury, as she's named Charlotte's lady-in-waiting.
The present-day storyline takes place between 'Bridgerton' seasons 2 and 3.
Meanwhile, the present-day Queen Charlotte faces a small crisis within her family, in a storyline taking place between London's social seasons. The monarch is woken in the middle of the night with the tragic news that her daughter-in-law, the Princess Royal, has died in childbirth along with her grandchild, who was to be heir to the throne. Via a classic Whistledown voiceover, we learn that the royal family is now in crisis, with no heir in sight.
Charlotte and George had an impressive number of children, as we meet their 13 (!) adult sons and daughters in the prequel. However, none of them have legitimate children; the sons have apparently sired dozens of extramarital babies, but none of them can inherit the throne. With Whistledown now focused on the drama within the royal family, Charlotte has to turn her matchmaking efforts towards her kids, ordering them to wed and procreate ASAP. Thankfully, the monarch can seek advice on these efforts from two of the most successful matriarchs in the ton: Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) and Lady Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell).
One notable difference between Queen Charlotte's present-day timeline and the Bridgerton seasons is that the spinoff doesn't take place in the eternal spring of its predecessor. Instead, we're seeing London during winter for the first time, gloomy weather an all. The series also includes several Easter eggs to point Bridgerton fans toward where the storyline fits in the larger Bridgerverse. Light spoilers for Queen Charlotte's later episodes ahead.
In one brief, adorable scene, we see Mama Bridgerton playing with two of her adorable grandbabies. Viewers already met Daphne and Simon's first child Augie in season 2, at which point the infant was six months old. So the second tot could either be Daphne and Simon's second child, or maybe Anthony and Kate's first (!). However, while visiting an art exhibition with Lady Danbury in a later episode, the happy grandmother briefly mentions that Anthony is still on his honeymoon. We learned at the end of season 2 that Anthony and Kate took a six-month honeymoon abroad before returning back to the Bridgerton country house (where the lovely final croquet scene was set). So, Queen Charlotte takes place shortly after the events of season 2, while Anthony and Kate are still off in newlywed bliss.
This means that the present-day events of the spinoff all take place between Bridgerton season 2 and its upcoming third season, which makes sense as Queen Charlotte and Bridgerton season 3 were filmed simultaneously. Some of the plot points from the spinoff, including the queen's quest for an heir, are very likely to show up again in the main series' next installment.
Quinci LeGardye is a Contributing Culture Editor who covers TV, movies, Korean entertainment, books, and pop culture. When she isn’t writing or checking Twitter, she’s probably watching the latest K-drama or giving a concert performance in her car.
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