A major storyline throughout Queen Charlotte‘s run is the intersection of race and politics within the monarchy as Charlotte is presented as the first Black person to marry into the royal family. To this day, experts still debate the racial origins of Charlotte, with historian Mario de Valdes y Cocom believing her to directly descended from Portugal’s king Alfonso III and his mistress, Ouruana, a Black Moor. However, many academics have countered that there is no genealogical proof to back the claim.
Regardless of the questions surrounding Charlotte’s real-life ancestry, it was important for the show-makers to identify her as a Black woman. “Many historians believe that Queen Charlotte was of mixed cultural heritage,” director Tom Verica told Netflix. “We wanted to take that in a different direction than what the history books have said happened—which was basically to bury that and not deal with it.”
In an exclusive interview with E! News, Tunji Kasim, who plays Charlotte’s brother Adolphus, explained how important it was to have the topic explored on the show.
“It’s fantastic to have a conversation about that,” Tunji said. “It’s especially relevant in the last few months given the Prince [Harry] and [Meghan Markle] situation that’s going on in Britain. Navigating such an institution—such a predominantly Caucasian institution, and proudly so—Queen Charlotte having to navigate that is very much front and center within this story.”