Series “Queen Charlotte”: From which disease George III. probably suffered

Series “Queen Charlotte”: From which disease George III.  probably suffered

The series “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story” focuses on the lives of young Queen Charlotte and her husband George. Young happiness is overshadowed by the king’s state of mind. But what illness is behind King George III’s ailments?

With “Bridgerton,” Shonda Rhimes has created a world of beautiful sets, beautiful costumes and her interpretation of British nobility in the Victorian era. The show’s eminence grise, Queen Charlotte, appears on the show most of the time to preside over the ball season and to watch the young ladies with eagle eyes as they are introduced to society. Her husband King George is rarely seen. But in the king’s brief appearances it becomes clear that he appears to be seriously ill, he seems confused and does not recognize anyone close to him either.

The prequel “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story” revolves around the story of young Queen Charlotte and her love for King George. His health and its impact on the relationship and his reign is a pivotal moment in the story. What is behind King George III’s mysterious illness?

King George III – went down in history as the mad king

In the Bridgerton prequel, viewers gradually learn about King George’s health. It starts with a trembling hand, a twitch in the face, problems concentrating and finally the young king in the series keeps drifting mentally into his own worlds – is no longer accessible to the outside world. The young King George III. is ashamed of his mental problems and initially wants to hide them from his new wife, undergoes cruel procedures intended to cure him of his seizures. Ultimately, in the series, King George admits to his wife that he has struggled with mental health problems throughout his life.

Even if the series is completely fictional, it is based on historical models. The real King George III. was born in 1738 and became King of Great Britain in 1760. Just one year later he married Charlotte von Mecklenburg-Strelitz and had 15 children with her. Contrary to what is implied in the series, King George was not burdened with mental problems since childhood. Only the later years of the king are marked by recurring mental problems. Nevertheless, he went down in history as “Mad King George”.

Metabolic disease has long been thought to be the cause of George’s illness

In the 1960s, psychiatrists Ida Macalpine and Richard Hunter suggested that the king’s health problems were caused by acute porphyrias. Acute porphyria is a hereditary metabolic disease. Typical symptoms include abdominal pain and neurological deficits that occur in episodes. A typical symptom is red-colored urine during flare-ups.

However, this thesis has been questioned for a while. A 2011 study looks at various sources to diagnose George III’s illness. to get closer to the track. It is documented there that King George III. at the age of 27 (1765) stronger symptoms appear for the first time. The king is said to have suffered from a chronic chest infection. From today’s perspective, the question arises as to whether the king was suffering from depression at the time. In 1788-1789 the king’s health deteriorated drastically and he probably had a manic episode.

King George III is said to have suffered from such severe cramps that bellboys had to sit on him until his seizure was over, reports the “BBC”. The king’s condition had deteriorated rapidly since he was 50 years old. There were repeated episodes of illness. He had manic episodes and is said to have hallucinated. The king is said to have planted a beef steak in the ground, believing that a beef tree would grow there. At the old age of 72 to 81, the king is said to have suffered from dementia in addition to his mental problems.

Bipolar disorder could explain King’s mental health problems

Timothy Peters describes in his 2011 study that the thesis of Ida Macalpine and Richard Hunter of acute porphyrias is not tenable. The psychiatrists had ignored important psychological symptoms in their diagnosis. “Recent research suggests that recurrent episodes of bipolar disorder have a neurotoxic effect and can lead to dementia. This could explain the king’s ongoing illness in his eighth decade,” the researcher writes.

In addition, there is increasing evidence that bipolar patients also suffer from psychological consequences between acute episodes. For example, low self-esteem or a troubled relationship with the children. People with bipolar disorder experience extreme mood swings from mania to depression—living between the extremes. Learn more about bipolar disorder here.

Whether King George III. really had a bipolar disorder can no longer be proven without a doubt by looking at letters, diary entries and the documentation of his treatment. According to Timothy Peters, the symptoms described by the monarch speak for a bipolar disorder. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, royal physicians were concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of King George III. overburdened. And so, then-mental illness expert Dr. Francis Willis entrusted with the healing of the monarch. “Willis believed that mental illness was caused by overarousal and could be cured with rest and control,” historian Amanda Foreman told the BBC.

From today’s perspective, King George was subjected to cruel practices intended to cure his ailments: “The treatments the king underwent reduced him to a childlike figure. He was denied a knife and fork at meals, which meant that the most of what he ate was soft children’s food that could be eaten with a spoon or hands. The king was not even allowed to leave the house alone and had to earn privileges such as family visits or the use of cutlery.”

In addition, doctors in the 18th century still believed that diseases were caused by an imbalance in the four humors – black bile, yellow bile, blood and phlegm – and did everything possible to bring them back into balance. Today we would examine the treatments King George III. was subjected to torture: “Arsenic powders were applied to his skin, causing blisters – a method believed to draw out the disease. He was made to fast, imprisoned, forced to sleep, bled and received ice-cold baths to shock the disease out of his body,” Amanda Foreman told the BBC.

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Source: Stern

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