Queen Charlotte of England: African History Moment!!

Queen Charlotte was the wife of the English King George III.  She was directly descended from Margarito de Castro y Sousa a black branch of the Portuguese Royal House.  As I have begun to expand my exploration of Black history and the African Diaspora, this woman piques my interest.  I saw the movie Belle, and was intrigued by the fact that the main character was the result of an affair with an English Captain Sir John Lindsay.  Se was living in poverty in the West Indies before her father rescued her and bought her into his home with an inheritance.

The artist responsible for the portraits of Queen Charlotte was Sir Allan Ramsay.  He was an anti-slaver intellectual and he probably took risks showing the true features of this Queen.  As my research proceeded, I found out that Sir Allan Ramsay married Dido Elizabeth Belle.  He was instrumental in trying a case that involved the massacre of slaves for insurance money.  Britain was one of the first countries to abolish slavery and the movie Belle showed some of the tension associated with chattel property.

Image result for dido elizabeth belle

Queen Charlotte was born in 1744 and lived until 1818.  She had fifteen children and thirteen of them survived until adulthood.  She has a city named after her in North Carolina.  Why does this mean anything with regards to Black History month in the United States?  We have a long history of friendship with Great Britain.  It was sometimes adversarial but mostly we mimic each others cultures.  The following quote from a Stuart Jeffries article sums up my thoughts:

It is a great "what if" of history. "If she was black," says the historian Kate Williams, "this raises a lot of important suggestions about not only our royal family but those of most of Europe, considering that Queen Victoria's descendants are spread across most of the royal families of Europe and beyond. If we class Charlotte as black, then ergo Queen Victoria and our entire royal family, [down] to Prince Harry, are also black ... a very interesting concept."

On the other hand, the racial hate sometimes comes out.  We hear that in reference to First Lady Michelle Obama from some people.  People of color were relegated to secondary positions and were not expected to lead.  Here are two hateful quotes from the same article:

"She was famously ugly," says Desmond Shawe-Taylor, surveyor of the Queen's pictures. "One courtier once said of Charlotte late in life: 'Her Majesty's ugliness has quite faded.' There was quite a miaow factor at court."


Image result for queen charlotte

I don't know what miaow means in the context of this sentence but it doesn't sound good.  I love the research into this woman.  For anyone reading this post, also check out Pinterest.  This site has a wealth of information not just on recipes but on African history in general.

An interesting aspect to her life was that she was a princess in Germany before she ascended to the throne in England.  I am happy to have found out about this product of African blood lines in England:

A princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Sophie Charlotte was descended directly from an African branch of the Portuguese Royal House, Margarita de Castro y Sousa. Six different lines can be traced from Princess Sophie Charlotte back to Margarita de Castro y Sousa. This explains her African appearance in her Royal portraits that exist today.

I am impressed that Britain allowed this woman to lead in spite of her heritage.  In the U.S., it would have been difficult in the 1700's to have a similar success story.  We were in the early stages of nation building but the color line, which was to scar our country for years, was not to be crossed.  I wonder of Prince Charles acknowledges his African ancestry.  Queen Charlotte was a patron of the Arts and Dido Elizabeth Belle was a powerful ally for the rights of slaves.  Any UK resident should be proud.

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