Their union might have been an arrangement between nations, but the marriage between King George and Queen Charlotte is known as a love that transcended political interests. “No couple had ever been happier than they were, before this greatest of all misfortunes,” stated Ann Phillis Greenwood, the wife of Philip Lybbe Powys Lybbe, the Conservative politician who was in the House of Commons from 1859 to 1865, highlighting the fact that the affection between George and Charlotte was as widely known as the mental health challenges of the king.

As Shondaland's new Bridgerton prequel series, Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story, gears up to premiere on Netflix on Thursday, May 4, and explore how George and Charlotte’s epic romance affected not just the British royal court but also an entire nation, we take a look at 10 other couples whose love made their mark on history.

Adam and Eve

adam and eve by titian
Adam and Eve by Titian, 1550
Fine Art//Getty Images

No love story has been quite as influential as that of the world’s first man and woman. According to the creation myth of Abrahamic religions, God made Adam and Eve in his own image, encouraging them to enjoy the fruits from all the trees in the Garden of Eden — all except one. Tempted by a talking serpent, Eve takes a bite of a forbidden apple and offers it to Adam, who also takes a bite. The two are expelled from Eden, with God cursing man to hard labor followed by death and woman to painful childbirth and subordination to her husband — a fate that seems as significant today as the year it was written. Even so, the two spend the rest of their lives together, becoming the world’s starter couple with children who, like their parents, embraced rule-bending and mortal drama.

Cleopatra and Mark Antony

antony and cleopatra as osiris and isis, published in 1864
ZU_09//Getty Images

Having already lived a life full of political intrigue, Cleopatra, the queen of Egypt, shows interest in the Roman general as a strategy to protect her crown, allowing Egypt to retain its independence while also giving Mark Antony the ability to fund his military efforts by tapping into Egypt’s wealth. Their mutual admiration for each other evolves into what is believed to be a most passionate alliance that results in three children and even endures after Mark Anthony’s marriage to another woman. But once Roman emperor Octavian invades Egypt, Cleopatra realizes the likely outcome for the two is death. Making it on her terms, Cleopatra has a note delivered to her husband, and — possibly believing Cleopatra had perished — Mark Antony impales himself. Taken to Cleopatra, he dies in her arms. Then, to keep the Romans from reveling in her capture, Cleopatra ingests poison. Hers marks the death of the last pharaoh of Egypt, and the country loses its independence, becoming a province of Rome.

Catherine of Aragon and Henry VIII

henry viii and anne boleyn observed by queen catherine, by marcus stone

Anne Boleyn may be the most famous of King Henry VIII’s six wives, given it was her influence that led to Henry converting England from Catholicism to Protestantism, but it is his first love, the Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon, who proceeded Boleyn, who goes down in history as the one who retained her head. Catherine was originally married to Henry’s brother Arthur, and she and Henry went to great lengths to marry after Arthur’s death, asserting that Catherine’s previous, five-month marriage was never consummated. Their two-decade love story is often dismissed, but Catherine’s influence on the course of history should not be underestimated: She was the first female ambassador of Spain, making her valued by the English royals beyond her role as a royal spouse. And her and the king’s daughter, Mary, would become England’s first queen regnant in 1553, setting the stage for female monarchs to come.

Napoleon and Joséphine

empress josephine
Hulton Archive//Getty Images

Napoleon Bonaparte may have had numerous romantic partners, but none held a candle to his first wife, Joséphine. When the two met, Joséphine and her two children had narrowly cheated death — unlike her first husband, who was executed during the French Revolution. Napoleon, a somewhat awkward character, fell in love with the socially adept Joséphine, writing her more than 200 passionate, desperate, and occasionally raunchy love letters from the war. Once Napoleon was back, the woman who once asserted she would be more powerful than the queen helped her spouse build a socially and financially thriving French empire. Their marriage was annulled after 14 years, only because Joséphine could not provide the emperor with an heir, but in telling her, “I’m yours,” Napoleon made sure Joséphine kept her title as empress until the end of her life.

Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo

diego rivera with wife frida kahlo
Bettmann//Getty Images

The relationship between the two Mexican artists was anything but conventional. Despite their turbulent fights, famous extramarital affairs (Rivera had one with Kahlo’s sister, among others, whereas Kahlo took Leon Trotsky and Georgia O’Keeffe as her lovers), and even a divorce, the two could never truly separate. Diego Rivera left his second wife in 1928 to marry Frida Kahlo, a painter 20 years his junior, and despite a mutual understanding that the two were not good for each other, they remained a couple until Kahlo’s death in 1954. Art may not be worth this level of tumult, but while embroiled in their undying passion for each other, these two grew as artists by pouring their personal tensions and desire into their work, leaving behind an incredible legacy, if not exactly lessons in emotional stability.

Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas

original caption gertrude stein, one of the worlds foremost novelists, poses with alice b toklas, and her dog, basket, in front of her home in france the grand lady of fiction lived in a chateau near paris during the four years of nazi occupation, but her identity was kept secret she has written a new book, part of which miss toklas is holding, which will be released for publication shortly

When San Franciscan pianist Alice B. Toklas first met larger-than-life writer Gertrude Stein in early 1900s Paris, their connection was immediate. Stein, who was already a staple on the Parisian literary scene, invited the new American expat for a walk. Their outing resulted in a bond that would last four decades and a romantic and intellectual partnership that elevated the work of not just Stein and Toklas but also nurtured some of the best artists of the 20th century. In Paris, the couple were able to have a freedom to live their lives out in the open in a way that the United States could not afford them, and although coded to avoid censorship, their sexual explorations made their way into Stein’s work, exploring gender in ways never before seen. Their relationship is often reduced to that of artist and muse, but the union between Stein and Toklas was that of two peers, with Toklas managing Stein’s career and legacy long after her partner’s death.

Wallis Simpson and King Edward VIII

the duke and duchess of windsor seated outdoors with two small dogs photo by bettmann via getty images

While some romances tangentially affect the course of history, few have altered it quite like the love affair between two-time divorcée Wallis Simpson and the king of the United Kingdom, Edward VIII. The British monarch, then a prince, met the American socialite at a party thrown by his mistress in 1931 and found her “sympathetic, understanding, and witty.” She was, however, also married. Over the next few years, the two grew closer, and there was a lot of speculation that they were having an affair. In 1936, the same year that Edward ascended the throne after the death of his father, King George V, things moved fast. Wallis filed for divorce from her second husband, and about a month later, Edward announced he would abdicate the throne for his love, as he could not serve as king without her. He was succeeded by his younger brother, King George VI, paving the way for Edward’s niece, Elizabeth II, to become the longest-reigning monarch in British history. As for Edward and Wallis, the two were married in France in 1937 and remained together until Edward’s death 35 years later.

Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward

1958 american actor joanne woodward holds her oscar statuette while sitting next to husband, american actor paul newman, during the governors ball, an academy awards party held at the beverly hilton hotel, beverly hills, california woodward won the best actress oscar for director nunnally johnsons, the three faces of eve photo by darlene hammondhulton archivegetty images
Darlene Hammond

At the height of his career, Paul Newman was considered a sex symbol, but without his wife Joanne Woodward, the Oscar winner may never have considered himself a sexual creature. When Newman and Woodward got to know each other as understudies on Broadway, he was still married to his first wife, but their undeniable attraction meant they could not be kept apart, and they even discreetly lived together prior to his divorce. After his marriage ended, 28-year-old Newman quickly married 22-year-old Woodward. The two had a notoriously volatile relationship, but — and perhaps it’s what kept them together — Newman, in his memoir, says the two left “a trail of lust all over the place.” The two remained together for the next five decades, until Newman’s death in 2008.

John Lennon and Yoko Ono

john lennon and yoko ono photographed on november 2, 1980 the first time in five years that lennon had been photographed professionally and the last comprehensive photo shoot of his life photo by jack mitchellgetty images
Jack Mitchell

Whether or not the Japanese artist Yoko Ono was the one responsible for the breakup of the Beatles, legend has it that, at least, John Lennon and Ono’s intense devotion to each other was tough for those around them. The two were inseparable after marrying in 1969, having started a romance three years prior despite both being married at the time. The iconic band broke up just one year after Lennon and Ono got married, during which time the couple collaborated as artists and activists — famously staging “Bed-Ins” to protest the war in Vietnam. Thought he couple went through a brief break up in 1973, three years later they were reunited, with Ono giving birth to their son, Sean, in 1975. Lennon then largely withdrew from the public eye, dedicating the rest of his life to his family, until his assassination in 1980.

Prince Charles and Camilla Parker Bowles

prince charles and camilla parker bowles, duchess of cornwall photo by anwar hussein collectionrotawireimage
Anwar Hussein Collection/ROTA

While the marriage of Prince Charles to Princess Diana is one for the history books, the love that has persisted through the decades is that between the eventual monarch and his soulmate, Camilla Parker Bowles. When Charles and Camilla were introduced to each other in 1971, sparks flew, but the courtship was complicated by their premarital affair (a royal no-no), not to mention Camilla’s on-off relationship with her soon to be husband Andrew Parker Bowles. Despite their respective marriages, the two remained involved (Diana famously uttered, “There were three of us in this marriage, so it was a bit crowded”), and a divorced Prince Charles made his first public appearance with Camilla in 1999, marrying her six years later. Although she was once named the “most hated woman in Britain,” the country has come to accept the prince’s true love, who, on September 8, 2022, became Queen Consort of the United Kingdom.

Carita Rizzo is a Finnish-American writer whose entertainment reporting and writing can be found in InStyle, The Hollywood Reporter, New York Magazine, Variety, Playboy and more. Though no one told her she would be able to eat, travel and watch television for a living, she has built a career around her all-time favorite activities. Keep up with Carita on Twitter at @CaritaRizzo.

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