What Illness Does King George III Have In ‘Queen Charlotte’? His ‘Madness’ Explored

King George III was plagued by an illness throughout 'Queen Charlotte.' What was wrong with George? Here's what we know about his condition (both in the show and in real life).

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Corey Mylchreest
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While Queen Charlotte and King George III’s marriage seemingly got off to a great start after their adorable meet-cute, things took a turn for the couple right after their nuptials. George (Corey Mylchreest) brings Charlotte (India Amarteifio) back to Buckingham House, but he dramatically departs for Kew without an explanation.

Over the course of Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, George keeps a major secret from Charlotte because he believes he’s protecting her. The king is suffering from an illness that he thinks he has to hide from his queen. Charlotte and George’s love prevails as they deal with what is wrong with him together. Let’s break down what’s happening with King George III in Queen Charlotte and how it mirrors the real-life monarch.

Corey Mylchreest
Corey Mylchreest as King George III. (Netflix)

What Is Wrong With King George III?

Episode 2 of Queen Charlotte is the first time we see that something is wrong with George. After a heated conversation with his mother, George nearly collapses as his hands shake uncontrollably. He orders Reynolds to fetch the doctor and not tell Charlotte about what’s going on.

In episode 3, Charlotte awakens in the night after making love to George. She finds him writing on the walls. Even when she calls for him, he doesn’t acknowledge her. He’s in his own world. George runs out of the palace and to the vegetable garden where he strips completely naked. He’s yelling to Venus in the sky. Charlotte witnesses all of this, and Reynolds rushes to help the king. Charlotte takes control and helps get George back inside.

Episode 4 takes place before the wedding. George begins to have one of his fits in front of Princess Augusta and Parliament. His mother brings a set of doctors together to figure out how to treat George. One doctor says that George’s symptoms “remain consistent with an inflamed cerebellum,” while another says it’s an “excess of ill humor in the legs.” One doctor believes diet is the key.

Dr. John Monro steps forward and says that the king’s condition is “not merely physical but nervous.” He believes George is suffering from a “disorganization of nerves,” and the king can be cured by simply talking to him. Dr. Monro was a real person and spent his life studying and treating mental illnesses.

Corey Mylchreest
Corey Mylchreest in ‘Queen Charlotte.’ (Netflix)

In the show, Dr. Monro employs shocking tactics to treat George — what Monro calls the “terrific method” — and maintain control over him. George endures them because he believes he’ll be cured. Turns out, the night Charlotte discovered what was really going on with George, his breakdown had been influenced by a late-night discussion with Monro.

When George overhears Augusta and Charlotte fighting over him, he returns to Monro. Monro goes to even more extreme measures to “treat” the king. At one point, Reynolds tries to put a stop to it, but he’s overpowered. Charlotte eventually gets a whiff that something is amiss and goes to Kew. She finds George and rescues him from Monro. She fires Monro on the spot. “Let him be mad if mad is what he needs,” Charlotte says about George. She moves to Kew to be closer to him.

George tries to push her away and doesn’t believe that he’s deserving of Charlotte’s love. Charlotte refuses to abandon him. She loves him no matter what.

“I am a madman. I am a danger. In my mind, there are different worlds creeping in. The heavens and the Earth collide. I do not know where I am,” George says. Charlotte responds, “I will stand with you between the heavens and the Earth. I will tell you where you are.”

George and Charlotte vow to take on any challenge that comes their way together. In their later years, George’s condition has worsened, but Charlotte loves him all the same.

The show never explicitly states what illness George has. Given the state of medicine back then, it’s hard to determine his true diagnosis. His ailment was simply called “madness,” but it would be classified as a mental illness today.

What Illness Did King George III Have In Real Life?

King George III has been dubbed “the mad king” throughout history. There have been extensive studies of his medical history, but there hasn’t been a definitive answer about his illness.

James Fleet
James Fleet as the older King George III. (Netflix)

According to the Royal College of Physicians, Ida Macalpine and Richard Hunter believed that King George III suffered from acute porphyria, but additional studies reported that the king suffered from bipolar disorder.

On the Royal Family’s official website, it’s stated that George became “permanently deranged” in 1801 after “serious bouts of illness.” The article stated that “medical historians have said that George III’s mental instability was caused by a hereditary physical disorder called porphyria.”

The post also noted that George could have suffered from “hypomania, but researchers studying his papers have found that breakdowns often came amid turmoil at home, including the premature death of his youngest daughter Princess Amelia from tuberculosis.”