There’s considerable evidence to bolster the claim that 18th-century royal, Queen Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz was the first biracial woman to become a part of the British Royal family. Historians say Charlotte descended directly from an African branch of the Portuguese Royal House, Margarita de Castro y Sousa from which she was handpicked at 17 to marry George III by his mother.
According to a report on The Washington Post, Charlotte’s Grandfather was Alfonso III of Portugal who had seized a town Faro from the Moors and requested the governor’s daughter as a concubine. He subsequently had three children with her. Martin Alfonso was a product of the union and when he again married into another family of black ancestry, the de Sousa family, Charlotte was born.
Mario De Valdes y Cocom who started studying Charlotte in 1967 contends that her features as seen in royal portraits were conspicuously African. Slavery was at the time rampant and the anti-slavery movement was budding. Valdes said; The [black African]… characteristics of the Queen’s portraits certainly had political significance since artists of that period were expected to play down, soften, or even obliterate undesirable features in a subject’s face.”
Valdes maintains that Charlotte and her husband, King George III didn’t like the paintings of the artists who tried to soft pedal her appearance. But there was Alan Ramsey who he believes was anti-slavery, whose paintings the royal family appreciated for depicting the Queen in sincerer hues and which remain the official portraits of Charlotte to this day.
Most of Valdes research is based on the 444 letters from Charlotte to her closest confidant, her older brother, Charles II, Grand Duke of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. Nevertheless, he has also fed his theory with a diverse web of accounts. There is that of the royal physician at the time Baron Christian Friedrich Stockmar who portrayed the Queen in his writings as small and crooked, with a true mulatto face and of Sir Walter Scott depicting her as ill-colored.
There is regardless of the depth of Valdes research and public intrigue no reference of the Queen’s race in her biography on the Royal website. A 1999 feature, “REVEALED: THE QUEEN’S BLACK ANCESTORS” on the London Sunday Times challenged this apathy by the Royals.
The feature stated, “The royal family has hidden credentials that make its members appropriate leaders of Britain’s multicultural society. It has black and mixed-raced royal ancestors who have never been publicly acknowledged. An American genealogist has established that Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III, was directly descended from the illegitimate son of an African mistress in the Portuguese royal house.”
Queen Charlotte is remembered as a mother of 15 children, a lover of German music, as the great great-great grandmother of the present Queen Elizabeth II and an erudite and cultured queen. She is famed for introducing the Christmas tree tradition to England, being an amateur botanist and for her widely read letters following the death of two of her sons.
Buckingham palace through a spokesperson dismissed the research by Valdes as unimportant but quite interestingly never stated that it was untrue.
Valdes however believes Charlotte’s history to be vital to our society today and he told The Washington Post; Charlottesville, where white supremacists held a Unite the Right rally that turned violent is named after this queen. Her ancestry is very relevant.
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