Is it so far fetched that the grandmother of Queen Victoria and the great-great-grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II was a German princess with African blood? Is it impossible as some argue or is it quite possible as their foes contend? Queen Charlotte having African blood? It probably shakes the foundation of too many long held beliefs about royal blood, pure blood, European stock, etc. that so many New Englanders, Southern aristocrats, and royalists like to hold onto. But here’s what’s been written:
According to speeches given by her great-great-granddaughter Queen Elizabeth II, including her coronation speech in 1953, it isn’t so far in the realm of impossibilities, as the currently reigning Monarch mentioned her African as well as Asian heritage. In addition, Queen Charlotte’s trusted personal physician, Baron Stockmar, described each of the royals in his memoires:
“The Regent. ‘ Very stout, though of a fine figure ; distinguished manners; does not talk half as much as his brothers; speaks tolerably good French. He ate and drank a good deal at dinner. His brown scratch wig not particularly becoming.’
The Duke of York, the eldest of the Regent’s brothers. ‘ Tall, with immense embonpoint, and not proportionately strong legs ; he holds himself in such a way that one is always afraid he will tumble over backwards; very bald, and not a very intelligent face : one can see that eating, drinking, and sensual pleasure, are everything to him. Spoke a good deal of French, with a bad accent.’
Duke of Clarence (afterwards King William IV.). ‘The smallest and least good-looking of the brothers, decidedly like his mother, as talkative as the rest.’
Rewind that. The royal physician who intricately describes each member of the royal family in great detail in his memoir published in 1872, wrote “The Queen Mother (Charlotte, wife of George III)….with a true Mulatto face.” A True Mulatto face. That’s how Queen Charlotte’s personal physician chose to immortalize the former Queen and Queen Mother in his memoirs!
Anyhoo, there are bloggers who are skeptical regarding the Afrocentric portraits the royal painters Allan Ramsay and Zoffrey created (like the one above) during Queen Charlotte’s reign and they argue there are no African features evident in these portraits. I only have one question, okay, maybe two questions? Are those people looking at the same royal portrait I’m looking at and are those people who looked at the mocha-colored Queen the same ones who told the naked Emperor he had on beautiful invisible raiments in Hans Christian Andersen’s The Emperor’s New Clothes?
Look folks, I’m not a scientist, I’m a writer, and in my nonscientific writer opinion, she looks very African-esque, if you will and besides, her own doctor said she looked Mulatto. Therefore, I conclude, if it looks like a Mulatto duck, walks like a Mulatto duck, flies like a Mulatto duck, quacks like a Mulatto duck, and reigns in portraits like a Mulatto duck, there’s probably some Mulatto duck in the duck, even if the duck is from Germany.
With features as conspicuously Negroid as they were reputed to be by her contemporaries, it is no wonder that the black community, both in the U.S. and throughout the British Commonwealth, have rallied around pictures of Queen Charlotte, Queen Elizabeth the II’s great-great-grandmother, for generations. They have pointed out the physiological traits that so obviously identify the ethnic strain of the young woman who, at first glance, looks almost anomalous, portrayed as she usually is, in the sumptuous splendour of her coronation robes.
Queen Charlotte, wife of the English King George III (1738-1820), was directly descended from Margarita de Castro y Sousa, a black branch of the Portuguese Royal House. The riddle of Queen Charlotte’s African ancestry was solved as a result of an earlier investigation into the black magi featured in 15th century Flemish paintings. Two art historians had suggested that the black magi must have been portraits of actual contemporary people (since the artist, without seeing them, would not have been aware of the subtleties in colouring and facial bone structure of quadroons or octoroons which these figures invariably represented) Enough evidence was accumulated to propose that the models for the black magi were, in all probability, members of the Portuguese de Sousa family. (Several de Sousas had in fact traveled to the Netherlands when their cousin, the Princess Isabella went there to marry the Grand Duke, Philip the Good of Burgundy in the year 1429.)
Six different lines can be traced from English Queen Charlotte back to Margarita de Castro y Sousa, in a gene pool which because of royal inbreeding was already minuscule, thus explaining the Queen’s unmistakable African appearance.
Queen Charlotte’s Portrait:
The Negroid characteristics of the Queen’s portraits certainly had political significance since artists of that period were expected to play down, soften or even obliterate undesirable features in a subjects’s face. Sir Allan Ramsay was the artist responsible for the majority of the paintings of the Queen and his representations of her were the most decidedly African of all her portraits. Ramsey was an anti-slavery intellectual of his day. He also married the niece of Lord Mansfield, the English judge whose 1772 decision was the first in a series of rulings that finally ended slavery in the British Empire. It should be noted too that by the time Sir Ramsay was commissioned to do his first portrait of the Queen, he was already , by marriage, uncle to Dido Elizabeth Lindsay, the black grand niece of Lord Mansfield.
Thus, from just a cursory look at the social awareness and political activism at that level of English society, it would be surprising if the Queen’s negroid physiogomy was of no significance to the Abolitionist movement.
Lord Mansfield’s black grand niece, for example, Ms. Lindsay, was the subject of at least two formal full sized portraits. Obviously prompted by or meant to appeal to abolitionist sympathies, they depicted the celebrated friendship between herself and her white cousin, Elizabeth Murray, another member of the Mansfield family. One of the artists was none other than Zoffany, the court painter to the royal family, for whom the Queen had sat on a number of occasions.
It is perhaps because of this fairly obvious case of propagandistic portraiture that makes one suspect that Queen Charlotte’s coronation picture, copies of which were sent out to the colonies, signified a specific stance on slavery held, at least, by that circle of the English intelligencia to which Allan Ramsay, the painter belonged.
- More on Queen Charlotte
- Revealed: the Queen’s black ancestors
The Times of London reports that a Portuguese descendent of Queen Charlotte confirmed Valdes’ research into her heritage. (June 6, 1999)
- Was this Britain’s first black queen?
“The suggestion that Queen Charlotte was black implies that her granddaughter (Queen Victoria) and her great-great-great-great-granddaughter (Queen Elizabeth II) had African forebears. Perhaps, instead of just being a boring bunch of semi-inbred white stiffs, our royal family becomes much more interesting.” (The Guardian, March 12, 2009)
For the initial work into Queen Charlotte’s genealogy, a debt of gratitude is owed the History Department of McGill University. It was the director of the Burney Project (Fanny Burney, the prolific 19th century British diarist, had been secretary to the Queen), Dr. Joyce Hemlow, who obtained from Olwen Hedly, the most recent biographer of the Queen Charlotte (1975), at least half a dozen quotes by her contemporaries regarding her negroid features. Because of its “scientific” source, the most valuable of Dr. Hedley’s references would, probably, be the one published in the autobiography of the Queen’s personal physician, Baron Stockmar, where he described her as having “…a true mulatto face.”
Perhaps the most literary of these allusions to her African appearance, however, can be found in the poem penned to her on the occasion of her wedding to George III and the Coronation celebration that immediately followed.
Descended from the warlike Vandal race,
She still preserves that title in her face.
Tho’ shone their triumphs o’er Numidia’s plain,
And and Alusian fields their name retain;
They but subdued the southern world with arms,
She conquers still with her triumphant charms,
O! born for rule, – to whose victorious brow
The greatest monarch of the north must bow.
Finally, it should be noted that the Royal Household itself, at the time of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation, referred to both her Asian and African bloodlines in an apologia it published defending her position as head of the Commonwealth.
More about Research into the Black Magi:
In the Flemish masterpieces depicting the Adoration of the Magi, the imagery of the black de Sousas had been utilized as both religious and political propaganda to support Portugal’s expansion into Africa. In addition, the Flemish artists had drawn from a vocabulary of blackness which, probably due to the Reformation and the Enlightenment, has long since been forgotten. There was a wealth of positive symbolism that had been attributed to the black African figure during the Middle Ages. Incredible as it would seem to us today, such images had been used to represent not only Our Lady – evidence of which can be found in the cult of the Black Madonna that once proliferated in Europe – but in heraldic traditions, the Saviour and God the Father, Himself.
Descendants of George III and Queen Charlotte
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|This article is an orphan, as few or no other articles link to it. Please introduce links to this page from related articles; suggestions are available. (March 2010)|
Here a list of children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren of King George III of the United Kingdom and his queen, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Their children include King George IV of the United Kingdom, King William IV of the United Kingdom and King Ernest Augustus I of Hanover. Their grandchildren include Queen Victoria of the United Kingdom and King George V of Hanover. Their great-grandchildren include King Edward VII of the United Kingdom and Ernest Augustus, Crown Prince of Hanover.
|George IV||12 August 1762||26 June 1830||married 1795, Caroline of Brunswick; had issue|
|Frederick, Duke of York||16 August 1763||5 January 1827||married 1791, Princess Frederica Charlotte of Prussia; no issue|
|William IV||21 August 1765||20 June 1837||married 1818, Princess Adelaide of Saxe-Meiningen; had issue|
|Charlotte, Princess Royal||29 September 1766||6 October 1828||married 1797, Frederick I of Württemberg; no surviving issue|
|Edward, Duke of Kent||2 November 1767||23 January 1820||married 1818, Princess Victoria of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld; had issue|
|Princess Augusta Sophia||8 November 1768||22 September 1840|
|Princess Elizabeth||22 May 1770||10 January 1840||married 1818, Frederick, Landgrave of Hesse-Homburg; no issue|
|Ernest Augustus I of Hanover||5 June 1771||18 November 1851||married 1815, Frederica of Mecklenburg-Strelitz; had issue|
|Augustus, Duke of Sussex||27 January 1773||21 April 1843||married (1) 1793 (in contravention with the Royal Marriages Act 1772) Lady Augusta Murray; annulled 1794; had issue; (2) 1831 (again in contravention of the Act) Cecilia Underwood, Duchess of Inverness; no issue|
|Adolphus, Duke of Cambridge||24 February 1774||8 July 1850||married 1818, Princess Augusta of Hesse-Cassel; had issue|
|Princess Mary, Duchess of Gloucester||25 April 1776||30 April 1857||married 1815, Prince William, Duke of Gloucester; no issue|
|Princess Sophia||3 November 1777||27 May 1848|
|Prince Octavius||23 February 1779||3 May 1783|
|Prince Alfred||22 September 1780||20 August 1782|
|Princess Amelia||7 August 1783||2 November 1810|
|Princess Charlotte Augusta of Wales||7 January 1796||6 November 1817||married 1816, Prince Leopold of Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld; no surviving issue|
|Princess Charlotte of Clarence||21 March 1819||21 March 1819|
|Princess Elizabeth of Clarence||10 December 1820||4 March 1821|
|Queen Victoria||24 May 1819||22 January 1901||married 1840, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha; had issue|
|George V of Hanover||27 May 1819||12 June 1878||married 1843, Marie of Saxe-Altenburg; had issue|
|Prince George, Duke of Cambridge||26 March 1819||17 March 1904||married 1847, Sarah Fairbrother; had issue (in contravention of Royal Marriages Act 1772. All issue illegitimate)|
|Princess Augusta of Cambridge||19 July 1822||5 December 1916||married 1843, Friedrich Wilhelm, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz; had issue|
|Princess Mary Adelaide of Cambridge||27 November 1833||27 October 1897||married 1866, Francis, Duke of Teck; had issue|
|Victoria, Princess Royal||21 November 1840||5 August 1901||married 1858 Frederick III, German Emperor and King of Prussia; had issue|
|Edward VII||9 November 1841||6 May 1910||married 1863, Princess Alexandra of Denmark; had issue|
|Princess Alice||25 April 1843||14 December 1878||married 1862, Louis IV, Grand Duke of Hesse and by the Rhine; had issue|
|Alfred, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha||6 August 1844||31 July 1900||married 1874, Grand Duchess Marie Alexandrovna of Russia; had issue|
|Princess Helena||25 May 1846||9 June 1923||married 1866, Prince Christian of Schleswig-Holstein; had issue|
|Princess Louise, Duchess of Argyll||18 March 1848||3 December 1939||married 1871, John Campbell, 9th Duke of Argyll; no issue|
|Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught and Strathearn||1 May 1850||16 January 1942||married 1879, Princess Louise Margaret of Prussia; had issue|
|Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany||7 April 1853||28 March 1884||married 1882, Princess Helena of Waldeck and Pyrmont; had issue|
|Princess Beatrice||14 April 1857||26 October 1944||married 1885, Prince Henry of Battenberg; had issue|
|Ernest Augustus, Crown Prince of Hanover||21 September 1845||14 November 1923||married 1878, Princess Thyra of Denmark; had issue|
|Princess Frederica of Hanover||9 January 1848||16 October 1926||married 1880, Baron Alfons von Pawel-Rammingen; no surviving issue|
|Princess Marie of Hanover||3 December 1849||4 June 1904|
|Adolf Friedrich V, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz||22 July 1848||11 June 1914||married 1877, Princess Elisabeth of Anhalt; had issue|
|Princess Victoria Mary of Teck||26 May 1867||24 March 1953||married 1893, Prince George, Duke of York, later George V; had issue|
|Prince Adolphus of Teck||13 August 1868||23 October 1927||married 1894, Lady Margaret Evelyn Grosvenor; had issue|
|Prince Francis of Teck||9 January 1870||22 October 1910|
|Prince Alexander of Teck||14 April 1874||16 January 1957||married 1904, Princess Alice of Albany; had issue|