Already in season 1 of the Netflix hit, the queen sniffed a powder up her nose, in season 2 of “Bridgerton” she does it again. Is that cocaine she’s piling up on a spoon and sucking up to her nose? We clarify.
In the second season of the Netflix series Bridgerton, the Queen of England (Golda Rosheuvel) does it again after we saw it in season 1: she has a can of powder brought to her and snorts some of it into her Nose – visibly enthusiastic. But is that cocaine at all, which many people are likely to think of spontaneously?
No, it’s not cocaine – but it’s a funny coincidence that in episode 6 of all things, shortly after we see her sniffing, a member of the Bridgerton family will also experience a little drug escapade. The fact that Queen Charlotte’s consumption is not coke is obvious if you take a closer look at the powder: what the Queen is puffing up her nose looks more brown than white.
and sniffles is the right keyword here: It is snuff tobacco, simply called “snuff” in English. While tobacco is more commonly known today in its crumbly form for smoking, in the past it was very often sniffed in powder form – and kept in chic snuff boxes, which were also considered collectibles.
Snuff in the Regency era
Snuff was (not only) very fashionable in London during the Regency period in which “Bridgerton” is set. So Queen Charlotte indulges in a historically accurate vice in the 1810s of the series – which would not be the case with cocaine. This was not “discovered” until around 1860 by Albert Nieman, who isolated an alkaloid from the coca bush (although chewing the leaves was common even before that for its intoxicating effects).
But is it also historically correct that the queen consumed snuff at all? Yes, and how! The real Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III. (played by James Fleet in the series), even became popular “Snuffy Charlotte” named because her fondness for the powder was so well known. In general, the substance, which has a stimulating effect due to the nicotine it contains, was already very popular with many European royals – which also helped it gain an image as a luxury product and made owning a snuff box something of a status symbol.