All Hail the Queen!

Last week, when my son and I were going through books and other materials looking for “the perfect” historical figure for his Black History Month project, we stumbled upon the beautiful portrait of “Queen Charlotte of England.” Though he did not choose her (no surprise there), he suggested that she should be the focus of my next weekly Black focus blog post.

He chose well.

After all the hoopla made over Prince Harry’s choosing Meghan Markle, a bi-racial American, as his princess, I realized that many people are not aware that Markle wouldn’t be the first “African-descended” woman to become British royalty.

You didn’t know?  Well, let me introduce you to Queen Charlotte of England.

Queen Charlotte 1744-1818, Portrait by Allan Ramsay

My 2005 agenda–too useful and beautiful to toss–365 Days of Black History, provides enough basic details about Queen Charlotte:

At the age of 17, Charlotte Sophia of Germany impressed King George III with a letter she wrote to the king of Prussia about political concerns in her area. On the urging of his mother, George sent for Charlotte. Immediately upon her arrival in England, critics focused on her African features. Horace Walpole wrote: “Nostrils spreading too wide. Mouth has the same fault.” Baron Stockmar, the queen’s personal physician, described her as “having a true mulatto face.”

Research by historian and genealogist Mario Valdes showed that Queen Charlotte’s ancestry can be traced to Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a black member of the Portuguese Royal House. It is probable that Charlotte’s family was descended from the black mistress of Portugal’s King Alfonso III.

Queen Charlotte married George in 1761, bore her husband 15 children, and assumed charge of the household when George became permanently disabled in 1810.  Although she never set foot on America’s shores, several U.S. cities and counties bear her name.

You can find more about Queen Charlotte’s racial lines on PBS’s FrontlineThe Blurred Racial Lines of Famous Families: Queen Charlotte or on the African American Registry site. For more portraits check out the National Portrait Gallery.

Queen Charlotte was an avid letter writer–my kind of queen! Her letters reveal a great deal more about her than the facts presented above, so check them out.

All hail Queen Charlotte!

Note: 365 Days of Black History (2005) by IOKTS Productions, published by Pomegranate.

12 thoughts on “All Hail the Queen!

  1. Janet from FL says:

    I love the gown she is wearing in the portrait. I am currently watching Victoria on PBS. I think she has 6 kids, which I thought was a lot for a Queen. 15 kids! Wow! That must be a record for royalty. I enjoyed learning about Charlotte. Thanks for sharing this information.

  2. Minister Jeanie Shepard says:

    Hi Chandra, Thank you for sharing a part of Queen history that I didn’t know. I will surely bring an awareness to many whom I know believe that Markle will be the first African descended Queen as I did. Also thank you for the links that will allow me to do a bit of research.

    • Chandra Lynn says:

      Hi Minister Jeanie! Happy to see you here. Thanks for appreciating the post. The reason I started the “Focus on Black” posts is because there’s so much history we don’t know–so much important history. Thanks for spreading the knowledge!

      • Minister Jeanie Shepard says:

        Hi Chandra, my sentiments exactly, I feel that knowledge is definitely power, therefore, the more that I learn the more I am incline to share with other. It’s more of a responsibility as a minister to share the good news. Thanks for all that you do. Much love and appreciate for your gift.

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