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Queen Anne

    by Kate Glover



Play Script: 'Queen Anne' a historical drama by Kate GloverQueen Anne was the younger daughter of James II by his first wife Anne Hyde. Her elder sister Mary and brother in law William of Orange had become King William III and Queen Mary after the so called Bloodless Revolution of 1688. The Roman Catholic James II had fled the Kingdom along with his second wife Mary of Modena and their baby James Francis Edward Stuart. He was later known as the “old Pretender” and father of the more famous “Bonnie Prince Charlie.”

Why did James II abdicate? His wish to allow Roman Catholics political power threatened the stability of the kingdom. Over a hundred and fifty years earlier, Henry VIII had helped to set up the Church of England, and by and large the English were happy with this. James’s conversion to the Roman Catholic faith was not shared by his daughters Mary and Anne. One of the mysteries of history is how these two young women felt when their father was drummed out of the kingdom.

Anne became Queen after the deaths of William and Mary. By 1702, she had already lost 17 children and it was unlikely she would have any more by her much loved husband George of Denmark. So, the Act of Settlement of 1701 had arranged for her to be succeeded by her father’s first cousin Sophia, widow of the Elector of Hanover and mother of the future George I.

Anne was faced with many problems including the challenge to the throne by her half brother, now fourteen years old - James Stuart - who was backed by his own followers, known as Jacobites, and by Louis XIV, the all powerful King of France. England was actually at constant war with France during her reign and was fortunate in having the services of the brilliant John Churchill, Duke of Marlborough who won a string of victories against the French enabling the English to sign a somewhat dodgy peace treaty with the French at Utrecht in 1713.

Although the party system became more established during the reign of Anne with the emergence of the Whigs and the Tories, Anne loathed the whole idea of party and much preferred a coalition of the best and most able men of the day.

Her reign was further complicated by the rivalries of various court favourites. Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough had been a friend since childhood but her overbearing bossiness led to her fall from favour during the reign and her replacement by the gentler Abigail Masham. Sarah’s threat to blackmail the Queen added to Anne’s distress. Anne’s constant ill health was a further difficulty. Yet, despite all these problems, she emerged as a strong Queen and a worthy final incumbent of the House of Stuart.

This play moulds these events into a fascinating glimpse into the intrigue, power plays, and machinations surrounding a little-known, but historically important Queen of England


Characters

(4m, 4f)

Principals
  Jonathan Swift - Author of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’
  Sophia - Electress of Hanover, mother of the future George I
  Anne - Queen of England
  Sarah - Duchess of Marlborough
  Sidney - Earl Godolphin
  John Churchill - Duke of Marlborough
  Mrs Abigail Masham
  Robert Harley - Earl of Oxford

Support
  Footman - a voice offstage
  Messenger
  Raucous Singer - voice offstage singing a short song, unaccompanied


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