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Queen Charlotte on Netflix: What was the real life illness King George had?

In the lead up to his death he was unable to carry out monarchy duties

During the new Bridgerton spin-off about Queen Charlotte and the original Netflix show, the illness King George III had in real life is referenced a lot.

In the main Bridgerton show, we briefly saw some upsetting scenes of King George dealing with mental illness, and he is mainly spoken about whilst himself being off-screen, as it’s referenced he’s unwell. The Queen Charlotte spin-off focuses highly on his character, and the relationship with Queen Charlotte as she becomes Queen.

So, here’s what we know about the real life story of what illness King George III was suffering from, as alluded to in Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story on Netflix.

King George and Queen Charlotte in A Bridgerton Story on Netflix

via Netflix

It’s been said King George was suffering from an illness called porphyria in real life

Not everything in Bridgerton or Queen Charlotte is true, but King George and Queen Charlotte are both based on real people, who married in 1761. George took the throne aged just 22, but during his 60-year reign suffered with his health. He was unable to carry out monarchy duties, and Charlotte acted as his guardian in years leading up to his death.

According to the royal family website, after serious bouts of illness in 1788-89 and again in 1801, George became “permanently deranged” in 1810. He was deemed mentally unfit to rule in the last decade of his reign, and passed away in 1820.

King George in Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story on Netflix

via Netflix

The Queen Charlotte series doesn’t say what was wrong with King George, and we may never know for sure, but some medical historians have said that George III’s mental instability was caused by a hereditary physical disorder called porphyria.

Porphyrias are rare disorders that mainly affect the skin or nervous system. They occur when your body is unable to produce enough of a substance called haem. According to The British Liver Trust, haem is required for many bodily functions. It is a component of haemoglobin, a vital protein which helps transport oxygen around your body and the pigment that gives red blood cells their colour.

Porphyria may cause attacks of pain and other signs of neurological distress. It can cause physical symptoms such as your skin reacting to light, and your urine becoming a reddish colour, as well as anxiety, restlessness and insomnia. There is no cure, but treatments are now available.

It was also theorised King George had hypomania, or a psychiatric illness such as dementia. According to Mind, hypomania and mania are periods of over-active and high energy behaviour that can have a significant impact on your day-to-day life. You can experience hypomania or mania on their own, but it may be brought on by a broader mental health problem, such as bipolar disorder.

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story is available on Netflix now. For all the latest Netflix news, drops, quizzes and memes like The Holy Church of Netflix on Facebook. 

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