Queen Anne

12311271_189103908098366_3257755173635995888_n Anne was born on 6th February 1665, the second surviving daughter of Prince James, younger brother of Charles II, and his wife Anne Hyde, Anne was preceded by her older sister Mary. Five brothers and sisters all died in infancy. Three other pregnancies ended in miscarriage.
Her Uncle, Charles II died on Anne’s 20th Birthday, with 12 illegitimate heirs but no legitimate children. As a result their father, now married for a second time, assumed his brother’s throne. His reign lasted three short years, before he was regally ditched in favour of his daughter Mary and her husband (and cousin) William of Orange in the ‘Glorious Revolution’ of 1688. James’ rule as monarch had started out fairly well, he was a strong King, but unfortunately a Catholic one; a circumstance that Parliament found increasingly harder to swallow. Despite James having a legitimate son and heir with his second wife, Mary of Modena, the baby was also Catholic and therefore it was felt a further risk to the Protestant England.
James faced an early challenge to the throne, by his illegitimate nephew, son of his brother Charles II, James Duke of Monmouth, which he successfully put down and subsequently had the Duke executed. Following his attempts to introduce a policy of tolerance towards all denominations, in an effort to reduce disharmony with the dissenters, several nobles covertly approached William to introduce the idea of another challenge to the throne which William accepted. His army landed in November 1688, and James, initially confident in his superior forces, refused an offer of assistance from France’s King Louis XIV, before losing his nerve, refusing to engage the rebellion and attempting to flee. Parliament meanwhile, along with James’ other daughter had also switched their allegiance to Orange. The disloyalty of his daughters affected James deeply.

After throwing his Great Seal into the Thames, James was captured and imprisoned before being released under house arrest. He managed to escape, and William ordered him to be allowed to continue, from where he made his way to France with his family and the protection of Louis. Parliament was convened and it was declared that James had in effect abdicated. The throne was now William and Mary’s. The Glorious Revolution of 1688 had restored the Protestant monarchy.

It wasn’t long however before Mary and Anne became estranged. Mary insisted on trying to insert control over her sister’s personal and social life. Anne, quite rightly it could be said, refused to allow her sister to dictate with whom Anne should engage socially. Anne by now was in her twenties and had been married for five years to Prince George of Denmark. She subsequently had 17 pregnancies, two of which were twin birth, although in one of these one twin was recognised in today’s terms as a fetus papyraceus or blighted twin. From her nineteen children, nine were miscarried – three of them were late enough to have their sex determined. Three sons and two daughters were premature and stillborn, two children, a son and a daughter died shortly after birth, both premature. Only three of her children, daughters Mary and Anna Sophia, and son Prince William survived.

Mary and Anna Sophia, born a year apart in 1685 and 1686 died within days of each other in 1687 after catching smallpox from their father. William was born with hydrocephaly and died a few days after his eleventh birthday in July 1700, leaving Anne childless. It has since been determined that Anne, continuously plagued by ill-health herself, suffered from Lupus, an auto-immune disease which causes the body to attack itself. Lupus is known to cause repeated miscarriage and premature birth. The fact that her three surviving children later died was not connected to her illness.

In 1689 following their successful gain of the throne, William and Mary had rewarded one of the main protagonists of the revolution John Churchill, with the title Earl of Marlborough. His wife Sarah was one of Anne’s closest friends. Her husband, Prince George was made Duke of Cumberland. Anne had requested use of Richmond Palace and an allowance from Parliament. The palace was refused, and parliament agreed to the allowance, a move which William and Mary also tried to oppose. They felt it in their best interests to keep Anne tied to them financially, as it gave them more leverage over future decisions. They also refused George’s wish to serve actively in the Military, rendering him somewhat redundant. Anne was bitterly resentful over their control.12313824_189103731431717_4295960692239972442_n

In 1692, William and Mary became convinced that Marlborough was hatching a secret plot to restore James. As a result they dismissed him from his offices. Mary demanded Anne remove Sarah from her household, but Anne refused and in a show of support, invited Sarah to attend a prominent social function with her. Mary was furious and sent the Lord Chamberlain to forcibly eject Sarah from her sister’s house. Anne was incensed. She left her house and took up residence in Somerset’s household at Syon, later moving to stay at Windsor Castle, Mary retaliated by stripping her of her official positions, and issued orders that her civic recognition was to be ignored and courtiers were not to address her. Anne subsequently gave birth to a son, Lord George, who died minutes later. Mary visited her grieving sister, but instead of offering her support, chose to continue the fight, and once again insisted Anne shun Sarah. Anne ordered her to leave and never spoke to her sister again. Later that year she moved to Berkeley House in Piccadilly. Mary died in 1694 having never reconciled with Anne.

William continued to rule alone. He and Anne subsequently reconciled and William named Anne as his heir. It was known that even had he married again and had a son, that child would have been further down the line of succession than Anne. James, Anne’s father claimed some time later that Anne had written to him asking his permission to be William’s heir, and promising to restore his own line as soon as she was able. He refused, his instinct telling him she was trying to prevent his line having their own claim in favour of hers. William restored her offices, and those of Marlborough. He also bestowed St James Palace and Mary’s jewels on Anne. Berkeley became a social gathering place for those courtiers who had been ordered to ignore her during her estrangement.

In 1701, James II died. Mary of Modena wrote to inform Anne, and to remind her of her promise to her father to restore his line to the throne. Mary stated that James had forgiven Anne for her disloyalty. Anne ignored the letter. She already had her own claim to the throne confirmed with the Act of Settlement recently confirmed, which dictated that Anne would succeed William to the throne of England, and failing any further heirs between her and George, the line would pass to Sophia, Electoress of Hanover and through her line. Sophia was a descendant of the Stuart line through Charles I’s sister, Elizabeth of Bohemia, who was her mother. She was also a very old lady; should she have inherited the throne from Anne, she would have been England’s oldest new monarch as when she died in 1714, just a few weeks before Anne, she was 84 years old.

William died in 1702. Anne was finally Queen. Her first speech was designed to win the loyalty of her subjects, in which she declared her distance from her late brother in law, and assured her public that she was English and had their interests at heart. She chose St George’s day for her coronation at Westminster but was ill and had to be carried there in an open sedan chair which highlighted her sumptuous gown and train. Her first acts were to grant George Lord High Admiral of the Royal Navy, Marlborough was appointed Commander in Chief of the Army and Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough was given key responsibilities in Anne’s household, Groom of the Stool, Mistress of the Robes and Keeper of the Privy Purse.

In the next four years, Anne and Scotland played a game of cat and mouse over the question of Scottish succession. Scotland still had the right to choose their own succession to their Throne following Anne’s demise. They answered the Act of Settlement with the Act of Security which reserved their right to choose their next monarch from the Protestant descendants of their line. They demanded freedom of trade for Scotland at the risk of their choosing an heir that wasn’t the same as the English choice. Anne agreed but later countered with the threat of the 1705 Alien Act by which she would declare all Scots in England as Aliens, and impose economic sanctions. The Scottish Estates repealed the Act of Security, parliament in turn removed the Alien Act. In 1706 after negotiations, the terms of the Acts of Union were presented to Anne, and subsequently ratified by both Parties in January and March of 1707. The Acts of Union joined both kingdoms into one – Great Britain, and ensured one Monarch to preside over both.

Anne’s rule was marked by the introduction of a two party parliament. The Whigs – made up predominantly of Dissenters and those concerned with commercial interests and the Tories who were for the most part Anglicans and landed gentry. Anne fell on the side of the Tories. Sarah, however pushed Anne to include more Whigs in power. Marlborough’s success in the Battle of Blenheim had increased his popularity, and he used this as leverage against Anne to push for favourable changes in office. Anne as a result became distant from them. In 1708 Marlborough and his side-kick Godolphin refused to attend cabinet until Anne’s new favourite Harley had been removed. Several of the remaining cabinet refused to discuss anything official until Marlborough and Godolphin were in attendance. Anne was forced to remove Harley.

In Anne’s personal circle, her increased estrangement led to Sarah’s replacement with a new favourite, Abigail Hill, who was related to both Harley and Sarah, but more loyal to Harley politically. She had acted as go-between for him and Anne prior to the cabinet incident. When Anne granted royal apartments previously allocated to Sarah, to Abigail, Sarah responded by repeating a rude poem hinting at an inappropriate relationship between Anne and Abigail. Anne was distressed. The situation deteriorated further when Anne chose to wear a different set of jewels than the ones Sarah had laid out for an official celebration. At the door of St Pauls, an argument broke out between the two women which ended with Sarah telling the Queen to shut up. After continuing the argument by letter, Sarah distressed the Queen further when George suddenly died shortly afterwards.

By her controlling actions, removing personal letters from George, and his Portrait from the Queens rooms, and demanding she leave Kensington for St James’, Anne wrote to Marlborough reminding him to reign his wife in. At court the following spring, Anne barely spoke to Sarah, and the two never saw each other again. In January 1711, Sarah was forced to hand over her offices and was removed from the Queen’s house. Abigail was her successor. Meanwhile, Anne had successfully managed to lever the Whig control from Parliament and reinstall Harley and his newly successful Tory majority in the House of Commons. In the House of Lords however, there was still a Whig majority. And they were calling for Britain’s involvement in conflict for the continuing Spanish War of Succession. Anne was reluctant to get involved, if a peaceful solution could be found. In a calculated move, she created twelve new peers in one day, including Abigail’s husband Samuel Masham. Marlborough was also dismissed that day as Commander in Chief of the Army. The new Lords agreed to the Treaty of Utrecht and following its ratification, Britain withdrew from the Spanish Successional war.

Harley, despite his political allegiance with Anne seemed to be involved in secret negotiations with James, Anne’s half-brother over the succession of the throne. Lord Bolingbroke, Tory Secretary of State, had his own discussions going on. The Treaty of Utrecht recognised the Hanoverian claim to the throne, however despite requests from Sophia, Anne refused to allow the Hanovers to come to England, claiming that there was no room for two courts in the City. Secretly she was quite possibly jealous of the elderly Sophia’s famous beauty and grace. Her peristent refusal to allow the Hanovers to move to England led to rumours of her own plot to name her half-brother as her successor despite the Acts of Succession and Union stating otherwise.

In 1713, Anne suffered several bouts of illness and was removed considerably from public life and duties. The population responded with rumours that she was dying. She recovered a first time but again took ill. She rallied again and during summer recess of July 1714, citing that Harley was neglecting his duties, she dismissed him from Parliament. Following a stroke that rendered her unable to talk on the anniversary of her son’s death a week later, she followed the advice of parliament and gave Harley’s staff of office as Lord Treasurer to Charles Talbot, Duke of Shrewsbury.

Two days later on August 1st, in the morning, Anne died. The throne was succeeded by George of Hanover, as George I following the death of his mother Sophia just 8 weeks prior, also by a stroke, ironically allegedly caused by Anne herself, writing a letter berating Sophia, which she was reading in her garden, when she was caught in a rainstorm. Running for shelter, she had a stroke and died the next day. All Catholic claimants to the throne were ignored, although a Jacobite rebellion rose the following year which was swiftly put down. Marlborough was restored to his previous office under George.

Anne was buried next to her husband in Westminster Abbey. Interred with her are 18 of her nineteen children. Her son George, who was born at Windsor Castle in 1692, and died minutes later was interred in the same vault with her grandfather Charles II, Henry VIII and Jane Seymour. His tiny coffin rests atop his grandfather’s. Anne’s passing officially ended the English reign of the House of Stuart, after just four generations, and a combined total of 111 years.

Phoebe