Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (Photo by Wikimedia Commons).
Actress Meghan Markle may be celebrated as a biracial addition to the Windsor Royal Family, but she is not the first of different racial lineage to come to Buckingham Palace. In the late 1700s, Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz became the first black member of the Royal Family.
Charlotte was born on May 19, 1744, being the youngest daughter of Duke Charles Louis Frederick of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Princess Elizabeth Albertine of Saxe-Hidburghausen. She grew up in a small duchy of North Germany and became a notable member of the Royal household after marrying King George III in 1761.
The queen’s difficult royal status
Hailing from Germany, Charlotte did not speak English although she quickly picked up the language but spoke it with a thick German accent. Because of racial stereotypes during those times, most people, especially those in the aristocratic community, often characterize her as “ugly-looking”.
She would be mocked because of her skin color and ridiculed for her African features. Her mother-in-law, Princess Augusta made matters even worse. But despite this, Queen Charlotte proved the naysayers wrong. And because of her German lineage, Queen Charlotte was deeply involved in the arts.
Charlotte’s role as the queen of England and Electress Consort of Hanover
Queen Charlotte and King George III had 15 children all in all with the first heir, George IV, ascending the throne after the death of George III. The Royal English family were greatly involved in the advancement of German music especially with Mozart who was only eight years old when he had a grand tour of Europe.
She was also an amateur botanist who had an array of species brought back to England from various parts of the world. During her lifetime, Queen Charlotte became a driving force for the abolishment of the British slave trade. Scottish painter Allan Ramsay always accentuated the Queen’s ‘mulatto skin color in most of her portraits in support for the anti-slavery trade movement of the early 1800s.