This is the view from Charlotte Brontë’s bedroom (now the Brontë Parsonage Museum), Haworth, Yorkshire. Charlotte was an English novelist and poet, the eldest of
the three Brontë sisters whose novels became classics of English literature.
Do you think I am an automaton? — a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you — and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal — as we are!
When Britain’s Prince Harry and American actress Meghan Markle announced their engagement Monday, Twitter erupted with the news that the newest princess in the royal family would be bi-racial.
“We got us a Black princess ya’ll,” GirlTyler exulted. “Shout out to Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. Their wedding will be my Super Bowl.”
But Markle, whose mother is black and whose father is white, may not be the first mixed-race royal.
Some historians suspect that Queen Charlotte, the wife of King George III who bore the king 15 children, was of African descent.
Historian Mario De Valdes y Cocom argues that Queen Charlotte was directly descended from a black branch of the Portuguese royal family: Alfonso III and his concubine, Ouruana, a black Moor.
In the 13th century, “Alfonso III of Portugal conquered a little town named Faro from the Moors,” said Valdes, a researcher for Frontline PBS. “He demanded [the governor’s] daughter as a paramour. He had three children with her.”
According to Valdes, one of their sons, Martin Alfonso, married into the noble de Sousa family, who also had black ancestry. Queen Charlotte had African blood from both families.
Valdes, who grew up in Belize, began researching Queen Charlotte’s African ancestry in 1967, after he moved to Boston.
“I had heard these stories from my Jamaican nanny, Etheralda “TeeTee” Cole,” Valdes recalled.
He discovered that a royal physician, Baron Christian Friedrich Stockmar, described Queen Charlotte as “small and crooked, with a true mulatto face.”
Sir Walter Scott wrote that she was “ill-colored” and called her family “a bunch of ill-colored orangutans.”
One prime minister once wrote of Queen Charlotte: “Her nose is too wide and her lips too thick.”
In several British colonies, Queen Charlotte was often honored by blacks who were convinced from her portraits and likeness on coins that she had African ancestry.
Valdes became fascinated by official portraits of Queen Charlotte in which her features, he said, were visibly “negroid.”
“I started a systematic geneological search,” said Valdes, which is how he traced her ancestry back to the mixed-race branch of the Portuguese royal family.
Charlotte, who was born May 19, 1744, was the youngest daughter of Duke Carl Ludwig Friedrich of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and Princess Elisabeth Albertine of Saxe-Hildburghausen. She was a 17-year-old German princess when she traveled to England to wed King George III, who later went to war with his American colonies and lost rather badly. His mother most likely chose Charlotte to be his bride.
Sure, I’m sad, but I’m not looking to soothe that sadness by replacing it with a new relationship. Women are allowed to be sad, and they’re allowed to be single, and they don’t need to hear that one day a man is going to make it all go away by telling her she is good enough again. She’s good enough as she is.
Arthur Tudor, Prince of Wales (1486-1502): The eldest son and heir apparent of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York, Arthur was viewed as the great hope of the newly established House of Tudor. Soon after his marriage to Catherine of Aragon, daughter of Spanish Catholic Monarchs, he died suddenly of an unknown ailment.
Lady Jane Grey (1536/37-1553): Also known as the “Nine Days Queen”, Jane was a great-granddaughter of Henry VII and was nominated as the successor to the Crown by her cousin, Edward VI, in an effort to avoid his half-sister - the Catholic Mary Tudor - from taking the crown. Jane was Queen of England for nine days before Mary and her supporters deposed her, later executing her when Protestants rebelled in her name during Mary’s reign.
Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots (1542-1587): The only surviving legitimate child of James V of Scotland, Mary was six days old when her father died and she became the queen of Scotland. After discontent amongst her subjects forced her to abdicate, she sought the protection of her first cousin once removed, Elizabeth I of England. As the Catholic Mary was a threat to Elizabeth’s crown due to her descent from Henry VII, she was held as a virtual prisoner for nearly two decades until she was finally executed after being found guilty of plotting to assassinate her queenly cousin.
Henry Frederick, Prince of Wales (1594-1612): The elder son of James VI and I, King of England and Scotland, and Anne of Denmark, he was destined to inherit both the English and Scottish thrones but he predeceased his father when he died young of typhoid fever.
James Francis Edward Stuart, Prince of Wales (1688-1766): Also known as the “Old Pretender”, James was the only surviving son of James II and VII, who had failed to produce a living son after nearly three decades of marriage to two different women. His Catholic father was deposed in the Glorious Revolution just months after James’s birth due to the realm’s unwillingness to have a James’s Catholic son succeed to the throne. James spent the rest of his life unsuccessfully attempting to win back his father’s thrones with the backing of his Jacobite followers.
Prince William, Duke of Gloucester (1689-1700): The only child of Anne, Queen of Great Britain, and Prince George of Denmark to survive infancy, William was seen as a Protestant champion as his birth seemed to cement the Protestant succession established in the Glorious Revolution. His death at the age of eleven precipitated a succession crisis, resulting in the Crown passing over to his Protestant Hanoverian cousins after his mother’s death.
Sophia of the Palatinate, Electress of Hanover (1630-1714): A granddaughter of James I and VI, Sophia became heir presumptive to the Kingdom of Great Britain when her cousin Anne lost her only child, resulting in the end to the Protestant line of succession established by the Bill of Rights. However, she died less than two months before she would have become queen, and her position as heir passed on to her eldest son, the future George I.
Frederick, Prince of Wales (1707-1751): The eldest but estranged son of George II and Caroline of Ansbach, Frederick was heir apparent to the British throne from 1727 until he predeceased his father by nine years. His position as Prince of Wales passed on to his young son, the future George III.
Princess Charlotte of Wales (1796-1817): The only child of the future George IV and his cousin, Caroline of Brunswick, she was the only legitimate grandchild of George III during her lifetime, meaning she was destined to be the future Queen of the United Kingdom. After a year and a half of happy marriage to the future Leopold I of Belgium, she died after delivering a stillborn son, resulting in a succession crisis and pressure on the King’s unmarried sons to produce an heir.
Prince Albert Victor, Duke of Clarence & Avondale (1864-1892): the eldest child of Albert Edward, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and grandson of the reigning Queen Victoria, he was second in the line of succession from the time of his birth but never became king after dying of influenza weeks after becoming engaged.
Book title: The Big Nowhere (1988) by James Ellroy; Charlotte’s Web (1952) by
Elwyn Brooks White; a Sherlock Holmes book by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle; Lindberg (1998) by A. Scott Berg; The Art of Fielding (2011) by Chad Harbach; Wonderstruck (2011) by Brian Selznick; Drums of Autumn (1996) by Diana Gabaldon