By Frederick H. Lowe
Meghan Markle’s wedding Saturday in Windsor, England, near London, to Prince Harry, sixth in line for the British Throne, will make her the first black person to marry into the House of Windsor, which was founded in 1910, but the not the first black Royal.
That distinction is held by Queen Charlotte of England, who ruled England and Ireland with her husband King George III during the American Revolution. They were members of the House of Hanover, which ruled England and Ireland from 1714 until the death of Queen Victoria in 1901.
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle announced their engagement on November 27, 2017, 199 years and 10 days after Queen Charlotte died. She died November 17, 1818. Queen Charlotte was born on May 19, 1744.
Princess Sophie Charlotte descended directly from the African branch of the Portuguese Royal House, Margarita de Castro y Sousa, according to the African American Registry.
Sophie Charlotte and King George III married the day they met, which was September 8, 1761. The wedding took place in the Chapel Royal, in St. James’s Palace in London. Sophie Charlotte was crowned England’s first black queen when she was only 17. She gave birth to 15 children. Thirteen of the 15 children lived and became adults. Her son Prince Edward, the Fourth Duke of Kent, was Queen Victoria’s father.
Her African bloodline was downplayed. “Portraits of the Queen had been reduced to fiction of the Black Magi, until two art historians suggested definite African features of the paintings derived from actual subjects, not just the minds of painters,” according to African-American Registry.
As part of her marriage agreement, Sophie Charlotte stayed out of politics, although she was interested in the Revolutionary War in America which was waged by King George III who was portrayed in the 1994 feature film “The Madness of King George.” King George went mad and blind. He was placed in the guardianship of his wife.
In keeping with Filmdom’s tradition of not accurately portraying blacks, Helen Mirren, a white actress, played Queen Charlotte in the film.
Queen Charlotte was educated and well- read and is said to have written an estimated 400 letters. Only a few still exist.
Unlike the black queen who is always portrayed as evil in Disney cartoons, Queen Charlotte was known for her good works.
She established the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, also known as Kew Gardens, near London. And in 1800, she was the first person in England to introduce a Christmas tree. It was decorated with sweetmeats, almonds, toys and raisins in paper packets.
Queen Charlotte also established in London the Queen Charlotte Maternity Hospital in London. The city of Charlotte, N.C. is named in her honor. And Queen Charlotte supported and taught music by Johann Christian Bach. Wolfang Amadeus Mozart dedicated Opus 3 to the Queen.
She is the great, great-great grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II, England’s current monarch.
This story first was published in November 2017