The future Queen Mary II of England and the future Prince of Orange was born on 30 April 1662 as the daughter of King James II of England and Anne Hyde. She grew up at Richmond Palace with her sister Anne. She spoke excellent French, learned to play several instruments. She also loved to read as well as dance. She was raised a Protestant, and she was confirmed in the Church of England in 1676, despite her father’s protests.
In 1677, Mary married her first cousin William, Prince of Orange. It was well-known that the future King James II, a Catholic himself, would have preferred a Catholic match. Mary reportedly wept all afternoon and the following day after being told that she was to marry William. She received a grand reception in the Netherlands. She would later describe her time in the Netherlands as the happiest time of her life. She learned to speak Dutch, and she was popular with the public. Her relationship with William was relatively good. He was disappointed when Mary and he had no surviving children. She had suffered a miscarriage in 1678 and likely suffered other miscarriages.
Their relationship changed for the worse when she publicly made a scene at the Loo Palace when he returned from a mistress at a late hour. In 1685, Mary’s father became King of England after the death of King Charles II. Mary herself realised by 1688 that her father’s politics might lead to a great crisis. Because of her earlier mistrust of her father, she easily believed the rumours that his son and her half-brother born in 1688 was a changeling. Later that year, William agreed to invade England to depose James, though he was initially reluctant. He was probably jealous of Mary’s position as the heiress and believed she would be more powerful than him. Mary told him she did not care for any political power. William then agreed to invade England, and he issued a declaration which referred to King James’s newborn son as the “pretended Prince of Wales.”
William left the Netherlands without Mary and landed in England on 5 November 1688. Mary’s father was defeated and attempted to flee on 11 December, but he was intercepted. He succeeded in escaping on 23 December, most likely because William had let him go. He managed to flee to France, and despite an attempt to return via Ireland, he never returned to England.
Mary returned to England in February 1689, and she would never go back to the Netherlands again. William and Mary were jointly crowned at Westminster Abbey in 1689. Mary did not take much part in the government of the country. She believed that women shouldn’t interfere in politics. However, while William was in battle or in the Netherlands between 1690 and 1694, Mary took on all of the duties. After a hesitant start, she became a leader, earning her the nickname ‘Good Queen Mary’.
Death came suddenly for Mary at the end of 1694. After falling ill with smallpox, she died on 28 December 1694. William was inconsolable and swore that no better person had ever lived. Mary was embalmed, but she was not buried until 5 March 1695. She had a grand funeral with a procession from Whitehall Palace to Westminster Abbey. Her father refused to let his exiled court to go into mourning for her.
William succeeded Mary as sole monarch as had been previously agreed and he never remarried. Mary’s sister Anne was pregnant several times, but a single son lived to the age of 11, before dying suddenly. The Act of Settlement eventually settled the succession of Sophia of Hanover. In the Netherlands, William was succeeded as Prince of Orange by John William Friso, of the Frisian branch of the family. He was William’s closest agnatic relative, as well as the son of William’s aunt, Albertine Agnes.