Author Writes About The Impressive Aspects Of Queen Anne’s Life Not Shown In ‘The Favourite’.

By Judith Lissauer Cromwell

Few women have ruled Great Britain in their own right. The least known and most under-valued, has, at last, attracted attention. But not the attention she deserves. Because those who flock to see the fiction that is ‘The Favourite’, starring Academy Award-winner Olivia Colman, will remember Queen Anne (1702-1714) as shrill and irrational, a dimwit manipulated by her lesbian lovers, a caricature of a queen.

Queen Anne “came to the crown with a universal joy.” Death had stolen her children, but the popular queen resolved to be a mother to her people. They, in turn, respected Anne’s piety and patriotism; her generous grant of Queen Anne’s Bounty and her Touching for the King’s Evil* that connected the queen to ordinary citizens; her never refusing charity, erecting no buildings, buying no jewelry. And Britons liked Anne’s private life of happy domesticity with her husband Prince George of Denmark.

“Good and gracious,” the queen showed “high virtue, merit, and sweetness of temper.” A woman “of intelligence and ambition” according to those who knew her, an accomplished musician and patron of composers, Anne spoke in a clear melodic contralto; her “softness of voice and sweetness of
pronunciation added much life to all she spoke.”

“An excellent and pious queen,” the “kindest of queens” and “best mistress to servants,” treated “everyone as if they had been her equals.” No political executions marked Anne’s reign. As head of the judiciary, she reviewed all judgments, modified sentences she thought too harsh for the crime, and
overruled the judge when a rapist got lenient punishment.

In “person and appearance very graceful, something of majesty in her look,” Anne, despite the ill health that ruined her once slender figure, stayed every inch a queen. Yes, in later life obese and gout-ridden, Anne wore corsets under her elegant, richly embroidered robes, disguised her raddled complexion with makeup. She sought to reassure her people that Their Queen would continue as the unifying force in a country riven by party strife.

‘The Favourite’ shows Anne Stuart as the pathetic survivor of seventeen failed pregnancies — by an off-screen male, never seen but presumably her husband. She sought comfort in lesbian relationships. In Anne’s day lesbianism was a sin, a breach of biblical principles – which the devout queen consistently upheld. Anne had strong views on morality, reflected in her refusal to promote a prominent politician because of his licentious lifestyle – she especially deplored this man’s treatment of his wife.

The queen’s “greatest blessing on earth” was the “entire union of affections and inclinations between her and her royal consort.” She and Prince George were a “perfect pattern of conjugal love.” Besides, having grown up surrounded by sycophants and self-seekers, before she came to the throne constantly spied upon, Anne prized loyalty. Yet, not only does ‘The Favourite’ ignore the major emotional element in Anne’s life, but the movie presents Anne as betraying George, “an inestimable treasure of a husband, who loved me with such great and faithful tenderness over the course of so many years.”

Ample proof points to Queen Anne’s once best friend Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, as spreading the idea of a lesbian relationship between Anne and her favorite chambermaid Abigail Masham, to justify her own fall from favor. In fact, Sarah lost her favored position because she persisted in haranguing the queen about politics. An avid Whig, Sarah bombarded Anne with pro-Whig demands. “All I desire is my liberty in encouraging and employing all those that concur faithfully in my service whether they are called Whigs or Tories,” said Anne.

As a female, Anne had neither education in, nor experience of, government, for women were held to be inferior to men, incapable of understanding politics. But Anne Stuart grew up at a court notorious for depravity and deceit, a court where adders dangled from the trees, and alligators slithered underfoot. That taught her valuable lessons about life and the human psyche. The queen kept a firm rein on government although ‘The Favourite’ portrays Anne as a puppet. Determined not to be a figurehead, She met at least once daily with cabinet ministers; presided at the weekly cabinet
meeting; and reviewed all documents issued in her name, often making changes.

Anne favored Moderation, a middle course between the parties, governing with a ministry made up of moderates from both parties. Because division weakened the country when it needed to unite – during Anne’s brief reign Protestant England fought a long and momentous war against Catholic France, Europe’s superpower.

“Whoever of the Whigs thinks I am to be hectored or frightened into compliance tho I am a woman are mighty mistaken in me.”

Anne evolved into an astute head of state, deftly navigating the shoals of power politics and party polarity to convince the ambitious men around her that Moderation would best serve their country. Conscientious and hard-working, absorbed in government, the musical queen liked, in her rare private moments, to listen to her musicians sing and play; she enjoyed planning renovations to the gardens surrounding her several palaces. And Anne loved to hunt the fox and the stag in Windsor Forest.

‘The Favourite’ depicts Anne as needy and vulnerable. Maybe. But Anne kept her concerns to herself despite the urging of her favorite physician who, for the sake of her health, wanted Anne to unburden herself to her friend (not Sarah who had fallen from favor; not Abigail for the queen never considered her a friend.)

Common sense, a practical outlook on life, and knowledge of human nature enabled Anne to choose her ministers wisely, particularly the men she selected to lead her army and government. With her support, Anne’s moderate government forged the historic union with Scotland that created Great Britain, settled the Protestant succession that gave her nation stability, and achieved unparalleled victories over France that allowed Queen Anne and her ministry to end the War of the Spanish Succession with a peace that laid the foundation for the British Empire.

Anne Stuart is an inspiration to every woman who strives to reach her goal. Neither beautiful, charismatic, nor brilliant, Anne overcame personal tragedy, physical debility, and the perceived limitations of her gender, to become a beloved and effective queen.

*The devout queen may have believed that, as anointed ruler and head of the Anglican church, putting her hands on a subject afflicted with scrofula, might do good. Anne’s subjects may have believed in her power to heal, for scrofula had periods of remission. But the gold coins Anne hung around the necks of those she had touched, certainly generated enthusiasm for the practice.

After a successful Wall Street career, Judith Lissauer Cromwell returned to academia as an independent historian. Experience as a magna cum laude graduate of Smith College, holder of a doctorate in modern European history with academic distinction from New York University, mother, grandmother, corporate executive, and scholar, Judith brings practical experience and solid academic credentials to bear on her re-examination of Queen Anne. Visit her at

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  1. Pingback: Writer Writes About The Spectacular Elements Of Queen Anne's Life Not Proven In 'The Favorite'. – GirlTalkHQ | Cheap Knee Braces

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