Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story review: Netflix prequel is the diamond of the season

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story review: Netflix prequel is the diamond of the season

When viewers first set eyes on Golda Rosheuvel’s Queen Charlotte in Bridgerton she became a firm fan favourite for her quick wit and fabulous outfits, so it comes as no surprise that the character has been given her own spin-off by Netflix.

Named after the royal, the limited series follows the character (played by India Amarteifio) as she struggles during her first years with her distant husband King George III (Corey Mylchreest), as well as her current-day quest to get one of their 13 children to wed and produce an heir to the throne.

But that’s not all because Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) and Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell) also get their time in the spotlight after two seasons spent in deference to the younger generation on the flagship series, while fans will also learn about the origins of the former as told through actor Arsema Thomas.

Watch the trailer for Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story

Created by Shonda Rhimes, who also wrote four of the show’s six episodes, the prequel could have easily felt like a pale comparison to its source material (like The Witcher: Blood Origin was to The Witcher). But, in reality, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story proves it is much more than just a rinse and repeat of the original series.

That’s not to say there isn’t a sweeping romance with steamy sex scenes, there is, but the stakes feel higher in the limited series than they have done before in the flagship show. Charlotte and George’s romance is just one part of the story, there is also mounting pressure on the Queen to have a child and secure the royal line, while George is forced to go through inhuman treatment when his “madness” becomes too difficult to hide.

Their interracial marriage is also used as a pawn for George’s mother, Princess Augusta (Michelle Fairley), who is trying to prove the legitimacy of an “experiment” in which wealthy people of colour were given land and titles. The new members of the Ton, Lady Danbury included, stand to lose everything should Charlotte and George’s marriage fall apart, which serves to add even more pressure on the young royal.

Amarteifio rises to the occasion of portraying a younger Charlotte, and she infuses the strong-willed Queen with charm while also balancing her inherent loneliness well. Mylchreest, too, does a good job of portraying a king at odds with his illness, while Thomas lends Lady Danbury a fierceness that lays the groundwork well for Andoh’s already established performance.

The show also features an LGBTQ+ relationship of note, finally, which is just as moving as the top-billed romance between Charlotte and George. And the story deftly switches between its origin story and the current-day plights faced by Queen Charlotte, Lady Danbury, and Violet Bridgerton. Set shortly after the events of Bridgerton Season 2, this part of the narrative shows why the side characters deserve their story to be told just as much as the Bridgerton children.

Even though Queen Charlotte is a limited series, it certainly feels like there’s a lot more to be told. Given viewers are only privy to the first year or so in the royal couple’s relationship, it leaves you wanting more.

Perhaps this is by design and Shonda Rhimes intends to continue the story somehow, either in Bridgerton or in a direct follow-up, but what’s clear is that it’d be a shame not to see more of Amarteifio and Mylchreest.

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