Queen Charlotte: What was King George’s illness?

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story has quickly begun conquering hearts after landing on Netflix on May 4.

The spin-off is a six-episode mini-series that focuses on Queen Charlotte. The viewers get to follow both the present version of the Queen Consort they’ve come to know and love in the hit series Bridgerton and her younger self as she meets and marries the King.

However, as their marriage progresses, so does King George’s ailment. And, with the King George character being based on King George III, many have been wondering what exactly his illness was.

Here is everything we know.

What was King George’s illness?

King George III was born two months prematurely and expected to pass away during his first night, but proved resilient.

In 1761, he married Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz, to whom he stayed married to until his last breath in 1820. Together, they welcomed 15 children, two of which passed away in infancy.

King George III suffered from severe mental illness throughout his reign. So much so that he once had to be restrained in a straightjacket in 1778. He also began foaming at the mouth and speaking incoherently for hours on another occasion.

At the time, rumours even suggested that he once mistook a tree for the King of Prussia and tried to shake its hand.

For these reasons, King George III was known as The Mad King.

With medicine and record-keeping not as effective as it is now, King George’s exact ailment is still unknown. But some believe that he suffered from bipolar disorder and others say it was the genetic metabolic disorder called porphyria.

In 2005, a sample of his hair was analysed and revealed high levels of arsenic poisoning, which led many to conclude that the medication he was being given at the time may have made him deteriorate.

In the mini-series, the King gets a long list of diagnoses ranging from having an inflamed cerebellum to being unwell due to “excess of ill humour in the legs”. At last, his doctor concludes that he is “merely suffering a disorganisation of the nerves”.

Dr Monro proceeds to try a whole host of extreme treatments on him, including nearly drowning him in ice baths and bounding him to leech-covered chairs.

However, doctors did not have the science or means to cure him.