I finally watched Queen Charlotte and wow, it's better than Bridgerton

India Amarteifio as Queen Charlotte
India Amarteifio plays Queen Charlotte in the six-part series. (Image credit: Netflix)

Due to the annoying wait for the second part of Bridgerton season 3, I was wondering what to watch in between on Netflix. Having seen Colin and Penelope skirt around each other for four episodes, I was clearly in the mood for fluffy period dramas so enter Queen Charlotte... 

First things first this certainly isn't a fluffy period drama! Indeed, Queen Charlotte could easily stand outside the Bridgerton universe and is a world apart from its better-known cousin.

Queen Charlotte was released in May 2023, but it doesn't feel like it ever got the attention it deserved. It has far more emotional depth than Bridgerton, which is wonderful fun but essentially boils down to boy meets girl, boy/girl has some reason why they can't be with the other, everything gets sorted after some nice balls and they live happily ever after. Queen Charlotte is a love story, but unlike any of the Bridgerton series, it's a tragic one (warning minor spoilers ahead). 

Set decades before Bridgerton, it follows the story of young Queen Charlotte's marriage to King George. Anyone with a cursory knowledge of history will know that King George suffered from terrible mental illness. But when Charlotte, beautifully and mesmerically played by India Amarteifio, first meets George moments before their wedding, he's perfectly charming. Thinking that perhaps marrying into the British royal family isn't for her, she tries to escape over a hedge. But King George — or "Just George" as he tells her she can call him — flashes her a winning smile and she's convinced to stay.

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story

George convinces Charlotte he's worth marrying (Image credit: Netflix)

What ensues is a wonderful and deeply moving story of love as Charlotte learns about George's mental health problems. Convinced that George truly loves her, she decides to stay in England and fight to protect him from those who'd take his crown and worse. There are desperately painful scenes as Charlotte senses at times she's losing George, but despite everything they stay together. Corey Mylchreest is fantastic as George and the drama is lifted whenever the pair are on screen. 

There's also a great secondary romance story between the pair's young servants — The Queen's man Brimsley (Sam Clemmett) and The King's man Reynolds (Freddie Dennis). Brimsley, who also features in the main Bridgerton as an older man played by Hugh Sachs, is always six paces behind Charlotte ensuring her every need is met. While Reynolds is desperate to protect the king and tries to save him from the cruel "treatment" he receives from the awful Doctor Monro (Guy Henry). Whenever they're not serving their masters, they grab the chance to be together and their relationship develops throughout the series.

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story Sam Clemmett plays Young Brimsley

The young Brimsley (Image credit: Netflix)

The third romance involves the young Lady Agatha Danbury (Arsema Thomas) and her future friend Violet Bridgerton's father. Don't worry he's allowed to cheat on Violet's mum because she's a racist snob. The romance, though, is the least interesting of the three in the drama and actually, Agatha's best scenes are her clashing with George's plotting mother, Princess Augusta. Lady Danbury is trying to secure the future of her family and make sure the racially integrated ton survives beyond Queen Charlotte's reign.

The weakest aspect of the whole drama is when it leaps forward in time to the period featured in Bridgerton. We've taken this long to get to this aspect of the drama because it really isn't that interesting. Save for some amusing scenes where the older Violet Bridgerton (Ruth Gemmell) tells Lady Danbury (Adjoa Andoh) she'd, erm, like her garden tendered again, it feels a waste. There are also some dreary scenes between the older Queen Charlotte and her grown-up tiresome children. 

This great drama is all about Charlotte and just George and when they're on screen it sizzles. Watch it now on Netflix.

David Hollingsworth

David is the What To Watch Editor and has over 20 years of experience in television journalism. He is currently writing about the latest television and film news for What To Watch.

Before working for What To Watch, David spent many years working for TV Times magazine, interviewing some of television's most famous stars including Hollywood actor Kiefer Sutherland, singer Lionel Richie and wildlife legend Sir David Attenborough. 

David started out as a writer for TV Times before becoming the title's deputy features editor and then features editor. During his time on TV Times, David also helped run the annual TV Times Awards. David is a huge Death in Paradise fan, although he's still failed to solve a case before the show's detective! He also loves James Bond and controversially thinks that Timothy Dalton was an excellent 007.

Other than watching and writing about telly, David loves playing cricket, going to the cinema, trying to improve his tennis and chasing about after his kids!