"a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face"

The opening scenes of A Tale of Two Cities are set in 1775 when George III was on the British throne. He succeeded to the throne in 1760 but due to mental illness was considered unfit to rule in 1810. At this point, his eldest son George, the Prince of Wales, ruled in his place under the title Prince Regent.

George III’s wife and Queen consort was Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (a north German duchy) who was a friend of Marie Antoinette, her French counterpart. According to the standards of her age, Charlotte was not considered to be a great beauty.

 

Portrait of King George III
Public DomainPortrait of King George III (1781) - Credit: Thomas Gainsborough
Portrait of Queen Charlotte (1781)
Public DomainPortrait of Queen Charlotte (1781) - Credit: Thomas Gainsborough