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The Regency refers to the years between 1811–1820 in British history, when George III, King of Great Britain and Ireland, was incapacitated by illness. His son, also called George, assumed the throne in a regency. George III was still the king in name, his son ruled as Prince Regent, and after George III’s death in 1820, the prince assumed the throne as George IV.
More broadly, the Regency period refers to a subsection of the Georgian era (1714–c1830/37) and is often extended to the death of George IV in 1830, when the crown passed to William IV (the third son of George III, and younger brothe
The Ton comes from the French phrase le bon ton, which roughly translates as “good manners” or “good taste”. It was the name given to elite society in the Regency period. During the early 19th-century, these were the values expected to be observed by members of the beau monde, or “beautiful world”, of fashionable society.
As shown in Bridgerton, etiquette was rigorously observed in this world, and strict etiquette governed the social season: from which daughters were ‘out’ in society, to how many dances one person could allot to another, to the secret language of the fan.
The king and queen at the time Bridgerton is set are King George III and Queen Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz. However, George III is not the ruling monarch; his son is ruling Great Britain and Ireland as Prince Regent.
Prince Regent is not shown on-screen; Bridgerton instead chooses to place his mother, Queen Charlotte (played by Golda Rosheuvel), at the centre of the drama.
At Queen Charlotte’s court, protocol was everything. This sense of protocol is crucial in Bridgerton, as we see the queen dictate many of the rules of this society.
In Bridgerton, it is the job of Queen Charlotte to name a debutante as the pick of the social season, a so-called ‘diamond of the first water’.
While the phrase ‘diamond of the first water’ was never used to single out any one young woman who would top the season, it is true that certain women were marked by the press of the day as great beauties. Their names would appear in newspapers, they would be written about and publicly celebrated, becoming celebrities of the season; on occasion, they were ranked, with scoresheets.
Lady Whistledown’s scandal sheet underpins almost all the action in Bridgerton.
A key difference is that in the real scandal sheets and magazines of the day, the subjects of gossip would not have been named. Their identities might have been very loosely disguised; someone might have just printed their initials, like the Duke of H instead of the Duke of Hastings. But it was so obvious who they were talking about. It was a way to get around libel laws. There would have been no point in having these columns if we didn’t know who they were talking about.
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