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The background is a purple-tinted photograph of a throne in a decadently decorated palace. In front of this sits a circular image with a black border, it shows a painted portrait of Queen Anne dressed in a gown, and her crown and holding the orb and scepter. Text above and below this reads, "Queer History. Queen Anne." The Beyond Reflections logo sits in the bottom right corner.
May 24, 2022
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Anne Stuart was born in 1665 in London. She became Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland in 1702, and then Queen of Great Britain and Ireland following the acts of union in 1707. Though still debated, it is often thought that Queen Anne had at least one lesbian relationship. 

Following years of unease over King James II (Anne’s father) Catholicism, the so called glorious revolution carried out by Anne’s sister and brother in law, Mary and William of Orange, a very public disagreement with the co-monarchs and a heart breaking 17 unsuccessful pregnancies, Anne ascended the throne in 1702. Her reputation has been ruined somewhat by the words of one of her former friends, the Duchess of Marlborough. But modern historians now view her reign more favourably – her reign saw scientific, artistic, literary, economic and political advancements, as well as significant diplomatic achievements.  

It is actually this friend, Sarah Churchill, that Anne is suspected by some to have had a lesbian relationship with. They were friends since childhood, gave each other nicknames (Mrs Morley for Anne and Mrs Freeman for Sarah) and after they had fallen out it is known that Sarah tried to blackmail the Queen with letters revealing their intimacy. Rumours were also spread, partially by Sarah, that the Queen also had a later lesbian relationship with her favourite Abigail Masham. Many historians and experts on Queen Anne argue against this however, and maintain that she was married and devoted to Prince George of Denmark until his death in 1708. 

Queen Anne died in 1714 aged only 49, and because she had no living children parliament  decided that she would be succeeded by Sophia, Electress of Hanover (a distant, but Protestant relation). Sophia died two months before Anne, so Sophia’s son George of Hanover became King George I of England. 

Queen Anne is somewhat unusual in that she didn’t actually have much of an impact on the LGBT community until the release of the favourite in 2018, which start Olivia Colman as the queen Anne. Though the film was a more fictionalised version of history, and there is no concrete evidence that Anne was lesbian, the film brought attention to a little studied Queen in British history and revived old rumours from her age.  

The important thing to take away from this is that history is not good at representing lesbianism. Many experts have disagreed with this reading of Queen Anne, but there is no clear evidence to say whether she was lesbian or not. History, then will have done what it often does and assumed the heterosexuality of Queen Anne regardless of whether this is true or not. 

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