The Tragedies of Queen Anne
Her reign as Queen of England was short in comparison to some British Monarchs, from March 8, 1702, to May 1, 1707. She was the last Stuart monarch, daughter of James II, granddaughter of Charles II, great-granddaughter of Charles I, great-great-granddaughter of James I, and great-great-great-granddaughter of Mary, Queen of Scots. One might look at her predecessors and see a fairly large dark cloud over the house of Stuart. Two beheadings, two kings divested of their kingdom, throw in The Interregnum and The Restoration, The Glorious Revolution, and The Old Pretender, and even Shakespeare would’ve been pressed to make the Stuarts a believable story.
Then there were the infant and child deaths. Anne’s father, James II had twenty-seven children from two marriages and two mistresses. Of those twenty-seven, one illegitimate daughter had three children. One survived to adulthood and died without issue.
Much has been disparagingly said of Queen Anne, but the lens through which history looks has always been harsh on female monarchs. She succeeded Mary II, her sister, and William III in 1702.
During her marriage to Prince George of Denmark, Anne had seventeen pregnancies. Of those seventeen, seven were miscarriages, five were stillbirths, three lived minutes or hours, one died of smallpox as a toddler, and one lasted until eleven-years-old. That last child, Prince William Duke of Gloucester, was the Protestant hope after his grandfather, James II, a Catholic, was deposed. Mere weeks after Prince William was born he suffered convulsions, which may or may not have been from meningitis, and later developed a type of hydrocephalus that endangered him all during his childhood.
He was in poor health most of his life, despite the efforts of his parents, doctors, and caretakers. On the night of his eleventh birthday, it is thought he started showing symptoms of what’s now known as Strep Throat, followed by what might have been Scarlet Fever. After being subjected to treatments thought inhuman by today’s standards, blistering and bloodletting, he failed to rally. Six days after his birthday, Prince William, Anne’s only surviving child, passed away.