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Mary II (April 30, 1662 – December 28, 1694) was Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland, co-reigning with her husband, King William III-II England, Scotland, and Ireland from 1689 until her death. Popular histories usually refer to their joint reign as that of William and Mary.

Princess Mary of York

Mary, born at St James’s Palace in London on April 30, 1662, was the eldest daughter of the Duke of York (the future King James II-VII), and his first wife, Anne Hyde. Mary’s uncle was King Charles II, who ruled the three kingdoms of England, Scotland and Ireland; her maternal grandfather, Edward Hyde, 1st Earl of Clarendon, served for a lengthy period as Charles’s chief advisor. She was baptised into the Anglican faith in the Chapel Royal at St James’s, and was named after her ancestor, Mary I, Queen of Scots. Her godparents included her father’s cousin, Prince Rupert of the Rhine. Although her mother bore eight children, all except Mary and her younger sister Anne died very young, and King Charles II had no legitimate children. Consequently, for most of her childhood, Mary was second in line to the throne after her father.

James II-VII, King of England, Scotland and Ireland

At the age of fifteen, Mary became betrothed to her cousin, the Protestant Stadtholder of Holland, William III of Orange (November 4, 1650 – March 8,1702). William was the son of Willem II of Orange and Mary, Princess Royal, King Charles II’s late sister, and thus fourth in the line of succession after James, Mary, and Anne.

At first, Charles II opposed the alliance with the Dutch ruler—he preferred that Mary wed her second cousin Louis, the Grand Dauphin, the eldest son and heir of Louis XIV, King of France, and his spouse, Maria Theresa of Spain, thus allying his realms with Catholic France and strengthening the odds of an eventual Catholic successor in Britain. However, pressure from Parliament and with a coalition with the Catholic French no longer politically favourable, he approved the proposed union.

The Duke of York agreed to the marriage, after pressure from chief minister Lord Danby and the King, who incorrectly assumed that it would improve James’s popularity among Protestants. When James told Mary that she was to marry her cousin, “she wept all that afternoon and all the following day”.

William III, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, Stadtholder of the Netherlands and Prince of Orange.

William III of Orange and a tearful Mary were married in St James’s Palace by Bishop Henry Compton on November 4, 1677 (William’s 27th birthday). Mary accompanied her husband on a rough sea crossing back to the Netherlands later that month, after a delay of two weeks caused by bad weather in Rotterdam was inaccessible because of ice, and they were forced to land at the small village of Ter Heijde, and walk through the frosty countryside until met by coaches to take them to Huis Honselaarsdij. On December 14, they made a formal entry to The Hague in a grand procession.

Mary’s animated and personable nature made her popular with the Dutch people, and her marriage to a Protestant prince was popular in Britain. She was devoted to her husband, but he was often away on campaigns, which led to Mary’s family supposing him to be cold and neglectful. Within months of the marriage Mary was pregnant; however, on a visit to her husband at the fortified city of Breda, she suffered a miscarriage, which may have permanently impaired her ability to have children. She suffered further bouts of illness that may have been miscarriages in mid-1678, early 1679, and early 1680. Her childlessness would be the greatest source of unhappiness in her life.

Although their father James, Duke of York, was Roman Catholic, Mary and her sister Anne were raised as Anglicans at the wishes of their uncle, King Charles II. He lacked legitimate children, making Mary second in the line of succession as James’s eldest child. After coming to the throne King James II-VII attempted to rule by decree and the birth of his son, James Francis Edward Stuart, led to his deposition in the Glorious Revolution and the adoption of the English Bill of Rights.

Mary II, Queen of England, Scotlano and Ireland, Princess of Orange.

William and Mary both became King and Queen as William III and Mary II of England (William II) of Scotland and Ireland She wielded less power than him when he was in England, ceding most of her authority to him, though he heavily relied on her. She did, however, act alone when William was engaged in military campaigns abroad, proving herself to be a powerful, firm, and effective ruler. Her death left William as sole ruler until his own death in 1702, when he was succeeded by Mary’s sister Anne.