Anne of Great Britain and Hanover, Charles I of England, George II of Great Britain and Ireland, Louis XV of France and Navarre, Princess Royal, Queen Anne of Great Britain, Stadtholder of the United Netherlands, Willem IV of Orange
Anne, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange (November 2, [O.S. 22 October] 1709 – January 12, 1759) was the second child and eldest daughter of King George II of Great Britain and his consort Caroline of Brandenburgh-Ansbach. She was the wife of Willem IV, Prince of Orange, the first hereditary stadtholder of all seven provinces of the Northern Netherlands.
Anne was born at Herrenhausen Palace, Hanover, five years before her paternal grandfather, Elector Georg Ludwig, succeeded to the thrones of Great Britain and Ireland as King George I. She was christened shortly after her birth at Herrenhausen Palace. She was named after her paternal grandfather’s second cousin Anne, Queen of Great Britain and Ireland.
On August 30, 1727, George II created his eldest daughter Princess Royal, a title which had fallen from use since its creation by Charles I for his daughter Mary, Princess of Orange in 1642. Princess Anne was the second daughter of a British sovereign to hold the title Princess Royal.
Princess Royal is a style customarily (but not automatically) awarded by a British monarch to their eldest daughter. Although purely honorary, it is the highest honour that may be given to a female member of the Royal Family. There have been seven Princesses Royal. Princess Anne is the current Princess Royal.
The style Princess Royal came into existence when Queen Henrietta Maria (1609–1669), daughter of Henri IV, King of France, and wife of King Charles I (1600–1649), wanted to imitate the way the eldest daughter of the King of France was styled “Madame Royale”. Thus Princess Mary (born 1631), the daughter of Henrietta Maria and Charles, became the first Princess Royal in 1642.
It has become established that the style belongs to no one by right, but is given entirely at the Sovereign’s discretion. Princess Mary (later Queen Mary II) (1662–1694), eldest daughter of King James II-VII, and Princess Sophia Dorothea (1687–1757), only daughter of King George I, were eligible for this honour but did not receive it. At the time they respectively became eligible for the style, Princess Mary was already Princess of Orange, while Sophia Dorothea was already Queen in Prussia.
In 1725, a potential marriage contract between Anne and King Louis XV of France and Navarre was considered. From a French viewpoint, such a marriage could give France valuable neutrality from The Netherlands and Prussia, as well as protection against Spain. However, the religious issues caused problems.
While it was taken for granted that Anne would have to convert to Catholicism, there were concerns that this would still not be enough for the Pope, whose support was needed, particularly regarding the broken betrothal between Louis XV and a Spanish princess, and the prospect of Anne becoming Regent of France in case of a minor regency was feared because of her presumed religious inclinations toward the Huguenots in France. The plans was eventually discarded when the French insisted that Anne must convert to Roman Catholicism.
Willem IV of Orange was the next candidate for Anne’s hand in marriage.
Willem was born in Leeuwarden, Netherlands, the son of Jan Willem Friso, Prince of Orange, head of the Frisian branch of the House of Orange-Nassau, and of his wife Landgravine Marie Louise of Hesse-Cassel. He was born six weeks after the death of his father.
Willem succeeded his father as Stadtholder of Friesland and also, under the regency of his mother until 1731, as Stadtholder of Groningen. In 1722 he was elected Stadtholder of Guelders. The four other provinces of the Dutch Republic:, Holland, Zeeland, Utrecht and Overijssel had in 1702 decided not to appoint a stadtholder after the death of the previous stadtholder Willem III, (also William III, King of England, Scotland and Ireland) issuing the history of the Republic into a period that is known as the Second Stadtholderless Period. In 1747 those four provinces also accepted Willem as their stadtholder.
Willem suffered from a spinal deformity, which affected his appearance, but Anne said she would marry him even “if he were a baboon”. Her reason for being so insistent upon this marriage was reported to be simply that she wished to be married, to avoid a life as a spinster at the court of her father and her brother, with whom she did not get along; and as the only match considered suitable for her was with a monarch or heir to a throne, Willem was essentially her only remaining Protestant choice, and when questioned by her father, she stated that it was not a matter of whether she should marry Willem, the question was rather whether she should marry at all. She quarreled with her brother, the Frederick Louis,, Prince of Wales, about her choice.
On March 25, 1734 in the Chapel Royal at St. James’s Palace, she married Willem IV, Prince of Orange. She then ceased to use her British title in favour of the new one she gained by marriage. The music played at her wedding, This is the day was set by Handel to the princess’s own words based on Psalms 45 and 118. Handel also composed an operatic entertainment, Parnasso in Festa, in honour of her wedding which was performed for the first time at the King’s Theatre, London, on March 13, 1734, with great success.
Anne was Regent of the Netherlands from 1751 until her death in 1759, exercising extensive powers on behalf of her son Willem V. She was known as an Anglophile, due to her English upbringing and family connections, but was unable to convince the Dutch Republic to enter the Seven Years’ War on the side of the British. In the Netherlands she was styled Anna van Hannover.