Anne and George moved into a suite at Whitehall Palace, and it appeared that they were remarkably compatible. At George’s funeral 25 years later, it was said, “Never did a happier pair come together.” George became noted for his marital fidelity. Anne began setting up her household with the Countess of Clarendon and Sarah Jennings, later Churchill, as ladies-in-waiting. Anne would become devoted to Sarah. “The Princess used to say She desired to possess her wholly and could hardly bear that Sarah should ever escape into another company.” If Sarah returned these affections is up for discussion as her letters to Anne were burned. If Anne had sexual feelings for Sarah, we do not know for sure, though Sarah herself later insinuated that Anne had lesbian tendencies and had a physical relationship with her dresser, Abigail Masham.
Anne became pregnant in late 1683, but unfortunately, the child was stillborn on the 12th of May. In June, Anne accompanied her stepmother to Tunbridge to take the waters. At the end of the year, it was reported that she was again pregnant. Then on 6 February 1685 her uncle King Charles II died and was succeeded by Anne’s father, now King James II. Anne gave birth to a daughter named Mary on 1 June 1685, and she proved to be “always sickly.” On 12 May 1686, she gave birth to another daughter named Anne Sophia, who was probably a month premature. In August she returned to Tunbridge to take the waters, but Sarah did not accompany her. In addition, Anne was most concerned for her two daughters, who were both sickly. On 21 January 1687, Anne suffered a miscarriage, and the foetus was identified as male. Worse was yet to come, as a few days later Anne Sophia caught smallpox. Anne wrote to her sister that “she was in so great trouble for my poor child” that she could not focus. “I must go again to my poor child presently, for I am much more uneasy to be from her.” Tragically, Anne Sophia could not be saved and died on 2 February. Anne’s elder daughter Mary also caught the illness and died on 8 February. Then, George became ill and seemed destined to follow his daughters to the grave, but he ultimately pulled through. “The good Princess has taken her chastisement heavily; the first relief of the sorrow proceeded from the threatening of a greater, the Prince being ill. Sometimes they wept, sometimes they mourned…then sat silent, hand in hand.”
Anne had wished to visit her sister in the Netherlands, but this was denied her by her father. Nevertheless, the two corresponded in secret. On 22 October 1687, Anne went into premature labour and gave birth to a stillborn son. This year had taken a terrible toll on Anne. By March 1688, another pregnancy was announced for Anne but this too ended in a miscarriage the following month. As soon as she was well enough to travel, she went to Bath to take the waters. While Anne was away, her stepmother gave birth to a healthy son, who would now supercede both Mary and Anne in the succession. Anne was convinced that her stepmother had not really been pregnant and that a child had been smuggled into the bedchamber. A Catholic heir was most undesired, and Anne received word that her brother-in-law intended to invade England. James was shocked and in disbelief that his daughters could be disloyal to him.
The Glorious Revolution (more on that later!) caused James to abandon his throne and Anne’s sister Mary and her brother-in-law William were proclaimed joint monarchs. Anne and George would insist that they did not agree to make William King for life as this would infringe upon Anne’s rights but later Anne decided not to stand in the way, “for the good of the Kingdom.” On 24 July 1689, Anne gave birth to a son with her sister by her side. He was named William and given the title Duke of Gloucester. He was not expected to live long after he suffered “convulsion fits” at just six weeks old. He lived but continued to suffer from arrested hydrocephalus or water on the brain. On 14 October 1690, Anne “was delivered of a daughter which lived about two hours and was christened and buried privately in Westminster Abbey.” It is thought the child was at least two months premature. Two years later, she once again gave birth at seven months. The boy was born alive but died within minutes, and Anne wrote to her sister that she was much worse than she used to be.
By the end of the year, Anne was pregnant again, but by March she was seriously ill. On 24 March, she “miscarried of a dead daughter.” By August, she was again pregnant, but she wrote to Sarah, “I do not intend to mind myself any more than when I am sure I am not with child.” On 21 January 1694, Anne “miscarried of a dead child.” Perhaps fearing she had been too active, she remained indoors to prevent another miscarriage. Then her sister fell ill at the end of the year. Anne was desperate to see her sister, but Mary would not see her. Mary died on 28 December 1694 from smallpox, declaring, “she had nothing in her heart against her sister and that she greatly loved the Duke of Gloucester.” Anne would now have succeeded her sister as Queen if she had not agreed to William being King for life. He now ruled on his own. On 20 February 1696, Anne was delivered of a stillborn daughter. Within weeks, she was pregnant again, but on 20 September her hopes were crushed when she “miscarried of a prince.” This may have been a twin pregnancy as one source later states that there were two foetuses of different gestations. She made a swift recovery and was fit enough to dance at a ball for the King.
On 25 March 1697, she suffered yet another miscarriage, and this endless cycle of hope and desperation must have made Anne suffer terribly. On 2 December 1697, she had a miscarriage of “two male children, at least as far as could be recognised.” She was “as well as she possibly can be in such a state.” At the end of June 1698, Anne was again pregnant, and she did everything she could to look after herself. She kept to her rooms and tried remedies and powders. Yet again, she was delivered of a stillborn son on 15 September 1698. A diplomate wrote, “A calamity of this kind, after so many precautions, creates fears that Madame la Princesse will not have children in the future.” In the late summer of 1699, Anne was once more pregnant. It was to be her last pregnancy. On 25 January 1700, Anne was delivered of a stillborn son, who had been “dead in her a month.” She was still only 35 years old, but her overall health was appalling. Anne now focussed all her hopes on her only surviving child, the Duke of Gloucester.
The 11-year-old Duke of Gloucester began to complain of feeling out of sorts on the evening of his birthday. He then developed a severe headache and became hot and feverish. After being bled, he made a slight improvement, but during the night he had an attack of diarrhoea and he developed a rash. The treatments made sure that the Duke of Gloucester had little rest at all. Meanwhile, Anne had not left her son’s bedside. She collapsed on Sunday. On Monday, he suddenly deteriorated and was “taken with a convulsing sort of breathing, a defect in swallowing and a total deprivation of all sense, which lasted for about an hour.” He died at one in the morning on 30 July 1700. Anne “bore his death with a resignation and piety that were indeed very singular.” Anne and George would see nobody but the Earl and Countess of Marlborough and spent most of their time together, reading A Christian’s Defence Against the Fear of Death. Eventually, the succession was settled on Sophia of Hanover, a granddaughter of King James I.
On 21 February 1702, William fell off his horse and broke his collarbone. His health had already been fragile for years, and when he caught a chill, his condition deteriorated quickly. He died on 8 March 1702, and Anne was now Queen at last. George did not become her joint ruler as William had been to Mary though he was given other responsibilities. Anne and George remained a devoted couple and, “in all his illness, which lasted some years, she would never leave his bed.” He often suffered from asthma attacks, spat blood when coughing and his legs swelled. In early October 1708, he contracted a cold, and by the 23rd he had “such a general weakness and decay of nature upon him that very few people that see him have any hopes of his recovery.” George died between and one and two in the afternoon of 28 October. Anne “never left him till he was dead but continued kissing him the very moment the breath went out of his body.”
She had lost “all that is dear to her, the only comfort in her life.”1