England's Black Queen Charlotte - The City of Charlotte, North Carolina was named in her honor
The City of Charlotte, North Carolina is named after England’s Black Queen, Her Majesty Queen Charlotte. When you drive from the airport in North Carolina, you can't miss the monumental bronze sculpture of The Queen, dramatically bent backwards as if blown by a jet engine. Downtown, there is another prominent sculpture of Queen Charlotte, in which she's walking with two dogs as if out for a stroll in 21st-century America.
Street after street is named after her, and the City of Charlotte itself revels in the nickname the Queen City - even though, shortly after the city was named in her honor, the American War of Independence broke out, making her the queen of the enemy. The city's art gallery, The Mint Museum, holds a sumptuous 1762 portrait of Queen Charlotte by the Scottish portrait painter Allan Ramsay, showing the Queen of England in regal robes aged 17, the year after she married King George III.
Historical Interlude: Queen Charlotte is actually England’s second Black Queen; the first Black Queen Philippa was crowned in 1330. Queen Philippa was born in Valenciennes, Flanders (today’s Belgium) an area believed to have been ruled by the Moors. Queen Philippa was the beloved wife of King Edward III. She is the mother of Edward Prince of Wales - The Black Prince - whom the French called 'Le Noir'. Edward Prince of Wales did not become King because he died the year before his father. The Crown went to his son King Richard II of England.
Princess Sophie Charlotte was born on May 19, 1744. Princess Charlotte was the eighth child of the Prince of Mirow, Germany: Charles Louis Frederick, and his wife, Elisabeth Albertina of Saxe-Hildburghausen. In 1752, when she was eight years old, Sophie Charlotte's father died.
A Princess of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, Sophie Charlotte was descended directly from Margarita de Castro y Sousa. Margarita de Castro, descended from Portuguese monarch Alfonso III and his mistress, Mourana Gil, an African of Moorish descent. Six different lines can be traced from Princess Sophie Charlotte back to Margarita de Castro y Sousa.
Sophie Charlotte married George III of England on September 8, 1761, at the Chapel Royal in St. James’s Palace, London, at the age of 17 years of age becoming the Queen of England and Ireland.
As was normal at the time, there were conditions in the contract for marriage that stated, ‘The young Princess will join the Anglican Church and be married according to Anglican rites, and never ever involve herself in politics’. Although the Queen had an interest in what was happening in the world, especially the war in America, she fulfilled her marital agreement and stayed out of politics.
An indicator of King George’s feelings for his wife is evidenced by the fact that, as stated on the Royal website, ‘George III bought Buckingham House in 1761 for his wife Queen Charlotte to use as a comfortable family home close to St James's Palace. Fourteen of King George III's 15 children were born there’.
King George and Queen Charlotte were both devoted to the other. Thirteen of the Royal Couple’s fifteen children survived to adulthood. Two of her sons became kings, and her granddaughter was Queen Victoria, the longest-reigning monarch in British history.
Her African heritage was not well publicized and her African blood line in the British royal family is not common knowledge. In the past portraits of the Queen that showed her African features were viewed as fiction of the Black Magi. However two art historians suggested then confirmed that the portraits of her were real and authentic and that her African features were real because of heritage.
Queen Charlotte was well educated and her letters indicate that she was well read and had interests in the fine arts. The Queen is known to have supported and been taught music by Johann Christian Bach. She was extremely generous to Bach’s wife after Bach’s death. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, at aged eight dedicated his Opus 3 piece to the Queen at her request.
Also an amateur botanist, Queen Charlotte helped to establish Kew Gardens bringing amongst others the Strelitzia Reginae, a flowering plant from South Africa.
Her Majesty Queen Charlotte made many contributions that are still evident in Britain today. The Christmas tree was introduced to England by the Queen who had the first one in her house in 1800. It was said to be decorated with, ‘sweet-meats, almonds and raisins in papers, fruit and toys’. The tradition of the Christmas tree that Queen Charlotte introduced to England over two hundred years ago has become a ritual in the United Kingdom and the Americas. Nearly every household and public building in Britain still decorates Christmas Trees with lights and shiny objects every year.
The Queen Charlotte Maternity Hospital was built in London in 1739. Set up as a charitable institution, it is the oldest maternity care institution in England.
When King George III became ill in 1765 the Queen Charlotte took care of him, noting in one of her letters to her brother that spending time in Weymouth became frequent as bathing in the sea was beneficial to the King.
Queen Charlotte died at Dutch House in Surrey, now Kew Palace, in the presence of her eldest son, the Prince Regent. She is buried at St George’s Chapel, Windsor.
Four hundred forty-four of the Queen’s private writings survived her – these are mostly letters to her closest confidant - her older brother, Charles II (1741-1816), Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz.In a letter dated May 23, 1773 to her younger brother, she wrote: ‘I find that the solitary and retiring life which I lead is not made for me. Having admitted this I assure you I shall not ignore my duty’. This confirms the Queen’s position of privilege yet it implies that she viewed her advantage as a task.Her Christian faith was a source of strength. She expressed this and quoted from the Bible in many of her letter.
During Queen Charlotte’s era slavery was prevalent and the anti-slavery campaign was growing. This may explain why Britons did not disclose the racial mix of the royal family at the time. Even though in 1952 the English royal family referred to Queen Elizabeth II's African bloodline as a justification for her coronation as head of the British Commonwealth of Nations.
Queen Charlotte is the great-great-great grandmother of the present Queen Elizabeth II (Grandmother of Princes William and Harry) who still lives in the expanded Buckingham House, now Buckingham Palace. Kew Gardens still flourishes and is continuously being expanded. The Queen Charlotte Maternity Hospital and many other buildings still honor her by carrying her name. Several cities and towns are named in her honor such as Charlotte town, Canada, Fort Charlotte, St. Vincent, West Indies and Charlotte, North Carolina.
There are many websites dedicated to England’s Black Queens on the internet.
Peace, Love and Understanding!