Royal secrets of Bridgerton

We reveal the real royal stories behind the sauciest show on TV

Bridgerton - all those raunchy romps, fantastic frocks and sexy scions are frankly the fun and filthy escapism we need right now. Set in 1813 (the same year Austen published Pride And Prejudice, although don’t get Kerry started on that) and although we see glimpses into Queen Charlotte’s court, this period drama doesn’t touch upon the soap-operatic world of the real-life Regency royals. And boy, did this dynasty fill the scandal sheets of Regency Britain (1811-1820).

George, Prince of Wales, ruled by proxy as Prince Regent (later King George IV), during the final madness of George III. The poet Shelley called him and his decadent brothers, ‘the dregs of society’. But when he wasn’t hell-bent on pleasure, corruption and political humiliation, he lavished squillions on the arts and architecture, such as Brighton Pavilion. Maria unearthed five facts Bridgerton can use as a future plotline…

His secret marriage: The Prince Regent secretly and illegally married catholic twice-widowed Maria FitzHerbert, in 1785. When questioned in Parliament, he denied it. Despite all his affairs and mistresses, he stayed more or less attached to Maria.

Queen Charlotte’s Pomeranians: Forget Corgis, once upon a time these pampered pooches ruled the palace. George III’s beloved wife called two of hers, Phoebe and Mercury, and gave many as gifts. 

Golda Rosheuvel as Bridgerton’s Queen Charlotte (centre) may well have actually been Black - theories suggest she was descended from an African branch of the Portuguese royal family

A divorce scandal: In 1795, the Prince Regent officially wed his cousin, Princess Caroline of Brunswick, but they despised each other and formally separated within a year. He tried to divorce her in 1820. She was having none of it and most of the nation supported her, so proceedings were stopped. He got his own back by banning her from his coronation in 1821. She died a few weeks later, claiming she’d been poisoned.

Shock death of a princess: In 1817, Princess Charlotte (the Regent and Caroline’s only child) died five hours after giving birth to a stillborn son. She was only 21. The wave of grief that swept the country was comparable to Diana’s passing in 1997.

Prince Regent’s meal deal: He really was nicknamed the Prince of Whales, but when your breakfast is reportedly champagne, port, brandy, a three-pigeon pie, five steaks and an egg, seems fair enough.

Inside the Duke of Hasting’s home

After two Bridgerton characters get hitched (no spoilers here), they live in the fictional Clyvedon Castle, with the exterior being Castle Howard (Brideshead Revisited, anyone) and the interiors shot at North Mymms Park, Wilton House (The Crown’s Buckingham Palace), and Badminton House (only 20 mins from Charles and Camilla at Highgrove). When Covid-19 restrictions ease you can visit all four, and even get married at North Mymms making all your Bridgerton-inspired dreams come true.

Royal resolutions of the Windsors… probably

With the news Prince Philip has declared he can “think of nothing worse” than everyone making a fuss about his 100th birthday in June, Kerry took a look at what the rest of his family are wishing for in 2021, for The Sunday Telegraph.

The Queen: While one was not amused by the fake Queen’s Speech on that ghastly Channel 4, one is resolved to keep up with the young people in 2021. Having helped me Zoom, George tells me now I have to tackle something called “TokTik” and will need cranberry juice. Will order the footman to add a splash of gin.

Camilla: I must not watch The Crown. I must not watch The Crown. Maybe just a few minutes… No, I must not watch The Crown.

Prince Charles: Am delighted I’ve swiped the title of Hardest Working Royal for the second year running, beating Anne again. At last! Take that, you over-achieving Olympian. Maybe Daddy will finally say well done.

Prince William: I will FaceTime Harry and Meghan and thank them for their delicious super-lattes. Will congratulate on podcast. Will not mention “tweny, tweny”.

Catherine: I will continue to pretend I don’t know Wills is using all my Kerastase super-gloss shampoo and that he doesn’t have any hair.

Meghan: In 2021 I will 1) officially launch the Archewell Foundation, 2) save the world, 3) cobble together a couple of award-winning documentaries and 4) continue to produce motivational podcasts, while 5) expanding my side-hustle of becoming a billionaire businesswoman, for a little bit of down-time.

Prince Harry: What Meghan says.

Princess Eugenie: Buy nappies. Bank enough sleep to last the year. Ask if Catherine has any nice baby gear she could hand me down: she does and she knows it.

Prince Andrew: If I stay really quiet at home, hopefully everyone will forget I existed.

Meghan’s favourite wine

Wonder if Harry and Meghan celebrated the anniversary of Megxit on Jan 8th with her rumoured favourite wine, Tignanello. This Tuscan Red usually starts at £40 a bottle and then some. But for a fraction of that, Aldi’s Piccini Super Tuscan is only £9.99. We’ll drink to that.

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