Queen Anne

Many have dismissed the last Stuart monarch as a nonentity or a figure of fun. Yet according to Richard Wilkinson she does not deserve her tarnished reputation.

The official thanksgiving for the victory of Oudenarde should have been a joyous occasion. Yet the crowds thronging the royal route witnessed an unseemly row between Queen Anne and her Mistress of the Robes Sarah Duchess of Marlborough As the carriage clattered past the cheering ranks, on and on went the spitting match between the obese, prematurely-aged Queen and her brilliant and beautifully-preserved favourite until they reached St Paul's. 'Not here! Not here! Hold your tongue!' snapped the Duchess to her Sovereign as they entered the nave of Wren's masterpiece.

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