Charles II of England, George of Denmark, James II of England, Male British Consorts, Mary II of England, Queen Anne of England, Queen Anne of Great Britain, William and Mary, William III of England
Anne (February 6, 1665 – August 1, 1714) was Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland between March 8, 1702 and May 1, 1707. On May 1, 1707, under the Acts of Union, the kingdoms of England and Scotland united as a single sovereign state known as Great Britain. She continued to reign as Queen of Great Britain and Ireland until her death in 1714.
The Lady Anne was born in the reign of Charles II to his younger brother and heir presumptive, James, whose suspected Roman Catholicism was unpopular in England. On Charles’s instructions, Anne and her elder sister, Mary, were raised as Anglicans. Mary married their Dutch Protestant cousin, William III of Orange, in 1677, and Anne married Prince George of Denmark in 1683. On Charles’s death in 1685, James succeeded to the throne, but just three years later he was deposed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Mary and William became joint monarchs.
Although the sisters had been close, disagreements over Anne’s finances, status, and choice of acquaintances arose shortly after Mary’s accession and they became estranged. William III and Mary II had no children. After Mary’s death in 1694, William reigned alone until his own death in 1702, when Anne succeeded him.
George of Denmark was born in Copenhagen Castle, and was the younger son of Frederik III, King of Denmark and Norway, and Sophie Amalie of Brunswick-Lüneburg. His mother was the sister of Ernst August, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg, later Elector of Hanover. Ernst August’s son, George, succeeded George of Denmark’s wife, Queen Anne, on the British throne.
In 1674, George was a candidate for the Polish elective throne, for which he was backed by King Louis XIV of France. George’s staunch Lutheranism was a barrier to election in Roman Catholic Poland, and John Sobieski was chosen instead.
In 1677, George served with distinction with his elder brother Christian in the Scanian War against Sweden. His brother was captured by the Swedes at the Battle of Landskrona, and George “cut his way through the enemies’ numbers, and rescued him at the imminent danger of his own life.”
As a Protestant, George was considered a suitable partner for the niece of King Charles II of England, Lady Anne. They were distantly related (second cousins once removed; they were both descended from King Frederik II of Denmark), and had never met. George was hosted by Charles II in London in 1669, but Anne had been in France at the time of George’s visit. Both Denmark and Britain were Protestant, and Louis XIV was keen on an Anglo-Danish alliance to contain the power of the Dutch Republic.
Anne’s uncle Laurence Hyde, 1st Earl of Rochester, and the English Secretary of State for the Northern Department, Robert Spencer, 2nd Earl of Sunderland, negotiated a marriage treaty with the Danes in secret, to prevent the plans leaking to the Dutch. Anne’s father, James, Duke of York, welcomed the marriage because it diminished the influence of his other son-in-law, Dutch Stadtholder William III of Orange, who was naturally unhappy with the match.
George and Anne were married on July 28, 1683 in the Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace, London, by Henry Compton, Bishop of London. The guests included King Charles II, Queen Catherine, and the Duke and Duchess of York. Anne was voted a parliamentary allowance of £20,000 a year, while George received £10,000 a year from his Danish estates, although payments from Denmark were often late or incomplete.
King Charles gave them a set of buildings in the Palace of Whitehall known as the Cockpit (near the site of what is now Downing Street in Westminster) as their London residence.
George was not ambitious, and hoped to live a quiet life of domesticity with his wife. He wrote to a friend: “We talk here of going to tea, of going to Winchester, and everything else except sitting still all summer, which was the height of my ambition. God send me a quiet life somewhere, for I shall not be long able to bear this perpetual motion.”
More on Prince George of Denmark tomorrow.