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Mary II (30, April 1662 – December 28, 1694) was Queen of England, Scotland, and Ireland, from 1689 until her death in 1694, co-reigning with her husband, William III-II King of England, Scotland and Ireland, Stadtholder of the Netherlands and Prince of Orange.

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 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.

William III (William Henry; Dutch: Willem Hendrik; November 4, 1650 – March 8, 1702), also widely known as William of Orange, was the sovereign Prince of Orange from birth, Stadtholder of Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht, Guelders, and Overijssel in the Dutch Republic from the 1670s, and King of England, Ireland, and Scotland from 1689 until his death in 1702. As King of Scotland, he is known as William II.

Mary 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 Charles II had no legitimate children. Consequently, for most of her childhood, Mary was second in line to the throne after her father.

William was the only child of Willem II, Prince of Orange, and Mary, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange, the daughter of Charles I of England, Scotland, and Ireland.

William’s mother showed little personal interest in her son, sometimes being absent for years, and had always deliberately kept herself apart from Dutch society. William’s education was first laid in the hands of several Dutch governesses, some of English descent, including Walburg Howard and the Scottish noblewoman, Lady Anna Mackenzie. From April 1656, the prince received daily instruction in the Reformed religion from the Calvinist preacher Cornelis Trigland, a follower of the Contra-Remonstrant theologian Gisbertus Voetius.


During the war with France, William tried to improve his position by marrying in his first cousin Mary, elder surviving daughter of the Duke of York. Mary was eleven years his junior and he anticipated resistance to a Stuart match from the Amsterdam merchants who had disliked his mother (another Mary Stuart), but William believed that marrying Mary would increase his chances of succeeding to Charles’s kingdoms, and would draw England’s monarch away from his pro-French policies.

As previously mentioned William was the son King Charles II’s sister, Mary, Princess Royal, and thus fourth in the line of succession to the three kingdoms after James, Duke of York, and his daughters Mary, and Anne.

At first, Charles II opposed the alliance with the Dutch ruler—he preferred that Mary wed the heir to the French throne, the Dauphin Louis, thus allying his realms with Catholic France and strengthening the odds of an eventual Catholic successor in Britain; but later, under pressure from Parliament and with a coalition with the Catholic French no longer politically favourable, he approved the proposed union. Therefore King Charles II relented to the match.

James, Duke of York was not inclined to consent, but Charles II pressured his brother to agree. Charles wanted to use the possibility of marriage to gain leverage in negotiations relating to the war with France but William insisted that the two issues be decided separately.

The Duke of York eventually 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.

Therefore, the age of fifteen, Mary became betrothed to her first cousin, the Protestant Stadtholder of Holland, William III of Orange. When James told Mary that she was to marry her cousin, “she wept all that afternoon and all the following day”.

Bishop Henry Compton married William and a tearful Mary in St James’s Palace on November 4, 1677, which was also William’s birthday.

The bedding ceremony to publicly establish the consummation of the marriage was attended by the royal family, with the King Charles himself drawing the bedcurtains. Mary accompanied her husband on a rough sea crossing to the Netherlands later that month, after a delay of two weeks caused by bad weather. 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 Honselaarsdijk. On December 14, they made a formal entry to The Hague in a grand procession.

Mary became pregnant soon after the marriage, but miscarried. After a further illness later in 1678, she never conceived again.

Throughout William and Mary’s marriage, William had only one reputed mistress, Elizabeth Villiers, in contrast to the many mistresses his uncles openly kept.