On Saturday, 20th May 2018, Britain’s Prince Harry, the last born of late Princess Diana said ‘I do’ to the American actress Meghan Markle, in an event that attracted a global audience of about three billion.
Meghan’s mother is black and her father is white. She is of a mixed race origin, which in America means she is black.
Prince Harry’s marriage to Meghan, who is being hailed as first black royal, has sparked quite a debate, especially as most people feel she will be out of place in Birmingham Palace, ostensibly an abode reserved for the pure whites.
However the debaters are dead wrong and will be churlish shocked to know that before Meghan, now Duchess of Sussex, there was a powerful black royal who hailed from black royalty in Germany.
On 18th May 1761 at Lower Castle in Mirow town in German, Sophia Charlotte was born to Duke Carl Ludwig Friedrich of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (Prince of Mirow) and Princess Elisabeth Albertine of Saxe-Hildburghausen.
Princess Charlotte is said to have been directly descended from a mixed race Portuguese royal family headed by King Afonso III, who had a son with an African Moorish lady called Madalena Gil. She had black blood from both sides of her family, it is said.
When King George III of Britain ascended to the throne in 1760, he was 22 and unmarried. His mother, Princess Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, sent the trusted, Earl of Harcourt, all over Europe in search of a suitable princess. That is how 17 year old Princess Charlotte, after a tumultuous journey over stormy seas, found herself besides King George III in an arranged marriage but that was later to be hailed as one full of bliss. They fell hopelessly in love.
The marriage was however rocked by King George’s bouts of mental illnesses later but not enough to keep her away from him even when he frightened her as the episodes got worse. Fortunately King George managed to pull through these episodes before they became rather permanent in later years.
This Queen of England spoke several European languages none of which was English, at the time of her marriage, but this didn’t pose great challenges since English royalty spoke fluent German. She later did learn English.
Princess Sophia Charlotte, after her marriage to King George III, served as Queen of both Great Britain and Ireland from 1761 until the union of the two kingdoms in 1801, when she became Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until her demise in 1818.
Many people are unaware that Queen Charlotte, in addition, served as Electress of Hanover in the Holy Roman Empire until the promotion of her husband to King of Hanover on 12 October 1814, after which she was also queen consort of Hanover.
Queen Charlotte is credited with having used her botanical studies to start and expand the celebrated Kew Botanical Garden. She poured hours into its success and as is rather obvious today this labour did pay dividends. She also ensured that exotic flowers from all over the world were included in her collection. She was particularly blown away the South African birds of paradise flower which was to later be named after her; Strelitzia Reginae (Queen of Strelitz).
This queen was also said to have popularized the small pox vaccine, having vaccinated all her 15 kids (two died at infancy). Queen Charlotte was a fervent advocate of small pox inoculation and saw its introduction as vital in bringing about lasting protection against the deadly and contagious disease.
Queen Charlotte is credited with the discovery of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart at the tender age of eight after his parents brought him to the castle to accompany the queen in her singing. Mozart was to later dedicate his Opus 3 in her honor.
Queen Charlotte also founded children orphanages and in 1809 became the patron of the General Lying-in Hospital a hospital for expectant mothers, now called Queen Charlotte’s Hospital.
The education of women was of great importance to this Queen of Britain and she ensured that her daughters got superior education unusual for young women their age.
It is this great Queen Charlotte who passed on her mixed-race heritage to her granddaughter and the Britain’s present-day monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.
It is this heritage that Queen Elizabeth II was alluding to in her apologia, during her coronation as the head of The Commonwealth, when she said she was the right person to assume this powerful mantle of leadership since both Asian and African bloodlines course through her veins.
Queen Elizabeth, the granddaughter to the Invisible African Royal will be the last person to cast the first stone at the mixed race Duchess of Sussex.
Meghan is in very good company.
Teteiya is a Senior Policy Advisor at the Africa Center for Strategic Futures (ACSF): Kenya Project ([email protected])