This August marks the 300th anniversary of the death of Queen Anne, the last of the Stuart monarchs, and the first sovereign of Great Britain. There is currently an accompanying document display in the Keeper’s Gallery here at Kew.
Queen Anne succeeded to the throne in 1702 on the death of her brother-in-law William III. Her father, the Catholic James II, died in France in 1701, having been overthrown by the Glorious Revolution. Anne was 37 years old when she became queen, and even at her coronation suffered from a bad attack of gout and had to be carried to the ceremony in an open sedan chair.
Anne never enjoyed good health, and her many pregnancies that ended in miscarriages greatly weakened her. She became pregnant eighteen times, but only one child lived, William Duke of Gloucester. He died in 1700, aged only 11, it is thought of hydrocephalus or ‘water on the brain’ (details relating to his funeral can be found in LC 2/14/1). While Anne had been married in 1683 to Prince George of Denmark, a chronic asthmatic, he was very much regarded as a nonentity. The soldier prince consort died in 1708 (records of his funeral can be found in LC 2/16 and LC 2/17).