The Real History of Queen Charlotte and Pomeranians
The monarch, featured in Netflix’s new Queen Charlotte, started the royal family’s obsession with Pomeranians.
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Last week, Netflix released the highly anticipated Bridgerton spin-off, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, which tells the origin story of fan-favorite Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel). After a two hit seasons of Bridgerton, based on the book series by Julia Quinn, the Shonda Rhimes-produced-and-scripted show delves into Queen Charlotte (born Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz)’s rise to power. Simultaneously, the show flashes forward to her life in the present era of Bridgerton, where she must pressure her children to provide a new heir after her granddaughter, the only previous heir, dies in childbirth.
As is a mainstay in the Bridgerton extended universe, there’s plenty of decadent drama and steamy sex, but this show also explores the complicated love story between young Charlotte (India Amarteifio) and “Mad King George” (Corey Mylchreest) whose mental illness was treated by doctors with what anyone in the modern era would recognize as unacceptable, inhumane torture. It gives the audience a look back at exactly how Queen Charlotte became Queen Charlotte — from her steely presence to her love of Pomeranians.
When Bridgerton was first released in 2020, the fever pitch about everything in the show from the costumes, the pop-song string orchestra covers, and Rege-Jean Page was everywhere. Rosheuvel’s performance was highly lauded, but there were some co-stars that even outshone her and Page: Queen Charlotte’s pack of Pomeranians. Rosheuvel described her scene partners in an interview as “very feisty.” And what’s even better is these Poms have their own rags-to-riches story: The 11 Pomeranians who have made up Queen Charlotte’s clique in the show were all previous rescue dogs. While Jane, Mini, Polly, and Spy make up the main cast of characters — they get swapped out with other dogs when they’ve had enough time on set. And the money that the pups make goes back into the Kennel Club Charitable Trust.
It’s a move that the real Queen Charlotte would have loved; she was fiercely devoted to her Pomeranians. Her passion for her pups was a legacy that her children upheld and that Queen Charlotte only fibs about a little bit. Here’s the real story of Queen Charlotte and her Poms.
Queen Charlotte brought the Pomeranians with her to England.
In episode two of Queen Charlotte, King George gives Queen Charlotte her first Pomeranian. It’s meant to be an olive branch of sorts after a disastrous wedding night, when it’s revealed that the two won’t be living together after their wedding. With a note expressing that King George doesn’t want Queen Charlotte to feel alone, she finds an adorable caramel-colored Pomeranian in a basket. She’s mad because it’s not what she wants from George and says that she thought dogs were supposed to be majestic; she calls the pup “a deformed bunny.”
In real life, Queen Charlotte never would have said such disparaging things about Pomeranians. At age 17, when she went to England to marry George, she actually brought two Pomeranians, Phoebe and Mercury, with her — making her love of the dog an instant royal signifier.
Queen Charlotte’s long relationship with Pomeranians.
There’s not a lot that’s known about Phoebe and Mercury, but they clearly were very important to Queen Charlotte. A majority of her dogs were white, aside from Fino, who was black and white. In 1779, Benjamin West painted a portrait of the Queen with a white Pomeranian at her feet. Additionally, her home with King George included a “square deal tub” which was meant for her to be able to bathe her dogs. The Poms lived in the royal palace, and it became a tradition for Charlotte to gift Pomeranians to her ladies in waiting and courtiers.
Pomeranians have a long history with the royal family.
King George IV carried on the family tradition of loving Pomeranians (Fino was his personal favorite growing up). Previously known as the Prince of Wales, King George IV took over as regent due to his father’s ailing health. He was known for being a bit of a playboy and quite excessive with his extravagant lifestyle, but he loved dogs. This was captured by painter George Stubbs in two portraits: Fino and Tiny (1791) and The Prince of Wales’s Phaeton (1793).
Another family member inherited Charlotte’s love of the fluffy Pomeranian — Charlotte’s granddaughter, Queen Victoria, who popularized the breed. She imported many different Pomeranians from all over Europe, and her kennel housed more than 30 pups. Her beloved dogs usually traveled with her, which included special compartments for the dogs on the royal train, as well as special security detail for them. She would exhibit the dogs in dog shows, too. She especially leaned on her dogs in the wake of Prince Albert’s death. The dog that was likely seen with Queen Victoria the most was her beloved Turi, whom she purchased in 1893. There are photos of the Queen with Turi, and it was said that the Queen asked for Turi while on her deathbed in 1901.
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Kerensa Cadenas is a writer based in New York. She’s previously worked at The Cut, Thrillist, Cosmopolitan, and Complex. Her work has been featured in Vulture, GQ, Vanity Fair, and others.