Queen Charlotte was the wife of George III and, like him, of German descent. But did she also have African ancestry? Queen Charlotte died nearly two centuries ago but is still celebrated in her namesake American city. When you drive from the airport in North Carolina, you can't miss the monumental bronze sculpture of the woman said to be Britain's first black queen, dramatically bent backward as if blown by a jet engine.
As De Valdes y Cocom tells Brown of the Washington Post, evidence suggests that Queen Charlotte’s heritage stems from black relatives of the Portuguese royal family. Though Queen Charlotte was German, De Valdes y Cocom’s research shows the queen was directly descended from a branch of the Portuguese royal family, related to Margarita de Castro e Souza, a 15th-century Portuguese noblewoman nine generations removed.
Charlotte is intrigued by its namesake. Some Charlotteans even find her lovable. "We think your queen speaks to us on lots of levels," says Cheryl Palmer, director of education at the Mint Museum. "As a woman, an immigrant, a person who may have had African forebears, botanist, a queen who opposed slavery - she speaks to Americans, especially in a city in the south like Charlotte that is trying to redefine itself."