The African Queen?

Queen Charlotte, previously Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz is an interesting figure for several reasons. She was an amateur botanist, a mother of 15, a great patron of the arts (especially music) and a strong advocate for women’s education. Yet it’s her supposed African ancestry that’s garnered the most attention lately. In 2007 (?), a historian and television producer by the name of Mario de Valdes y Cocom advanced the theory that Charlotte had recognizable African features, features that she inherited from a Portuguese ancestor, one Margarita de Castro e Souza. It seems Castro e Souza was referred to as “black” because she was descended from King Afonso III of Portugal, a ruler who was known to have had a child by an African lover.

It’s an interesting theory, and indeed there are portraits of Charlotte that give the impression of African features.

The problem with theory is twofold. First, there’s evidence to indicate that King Afonso’s lover, a woman by the name of Madragana, was a Moor (Arab), not a sub-Saharan African. Second, even if Madragana was African, she added her genes to the royal gene pool some 500 years before Queen Charlotte was ever born.

That’s a heck of a long time and a lot of generations, which makes it extremely doubtful that there would have been any lingering resemblance between Charlotte and Madragana. I certainly don’t resemble Sir Thomas More, yet family lore has it that we Pastrys descend from him. The fact that I inherited not a shred of his looks, to say nothing of his courage or intellect is proof enough that genes have no real lasting power.

Valdes y Cocom’s counter argument to this is that royal blood lines are very inbred and so the genes could have been concentrated, even over 500 years. There’s no doubt that noble lineages are inbred. The fact that a British Queen, a daughter of a German duke, had Portuguese ancestors is a testament to the fact that European royals were mostly interbred members of the same big family. But 500 years? It strains credibility to say the least.

It seems to me that the best evidence that Valdes y Cocom has to back up his theory are the portraits he cites. Yet for every one that makes Charlotte look vaguely African, there is another that looks like this:

The first black queen of England certainly is a fun idea, but to me it seems that she has yet to ascend the throne.

5 thoughts on “The African Queen?”

  1. “Black” Humans are birthed in ALL shades and hues, from whitest of white to blackest of black and therein between; also in single Black family there are parents, children of varied skin tones ~ Queen Charlotte’s features in first portrait are similar to whatever racial “experts and authorities” Individuals believing selves to be more knowledgeable re AfricanAfricanizedBlackBlackness (My word) than those who breathe being ~ Second portrait of Queen may also be woman of African root, being as there are countless Black Humans with similar appearance including true blonds with blue eyes, not bleached blonds with emerging evident black roots …
    It is not amazing that some, or many, elect to deny existence of blackness within the ever phenomenal Caucasian group. Many know the stigma of having any connectivity to the dreaded/dreadful adjective “black” is likened to being condemned to horrors of hell’s fires, thus, many Humans of African ancestry did choose to move into, merging to “pass” to live forever within radiant and wonder filled life of whiteness fooling even their immediate families; many fearing to conceive children for fear one or some would be born with the dreaded taint or darker tinges of skin. Many have been pained for passing, unable/unwilling to meet, greet, share within family gatherings including funerals, excluding their immediate relatives who opted not to “out them” ~ The murderous inbred/incestuous grabbers of Continents and possessions, these so called blue blood royals to date have a negress (or more) in their lineage. Long live the royals, huh!
    Tuesday. 18 June 2013 ~ 12:28 PM

    1. I think I should add…the point of this post was not to make a value judgement about race — perish the thought! — but to say simply that the story itself strains credibility.

      Have a good one, RM!

      – Joe

  2. First i ever heard of this. That first portrait looks awfully suspicious. But it really doesn’t matter at all. They’re long dead anyway. So who cares?

    1. I think of the theory as more of an exaggeration, but I thank you, Arabella!

      Cheers,

      – Joe

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