My novel, Tangled Hearts, is set in the reign of Queen Anne a ‘Cinderella’ princess of little importance during her childhood.
At he birth, neither her uncle, Charles II, nor her father, James, Duke of York, imagined she would become the last of the Stuart monarchs. After all, Charles’ seven bastards proved his virility and there was every reason to believe he and his queen of three years would have legitimate heirs to the throne. And in the unlikely event of their not producing one, his brother and sister-in-law, James and Anne, had produced an elder brother and sister for the latest addition to their nursery, Baby Anne.
In those days infant mortality was high. The son ‘Cinderella’s’ mother carried when she married only lived for six months. But Anne and her older sister, Mary, survived the Great Plague which broke out in the year of her birth. The little princesses grew up in their nursery but their brother James, another brother and two little sisters died. One can imagine the effects of these deaths on ‘Cinderella’, a small girl with poor health whose weak eyes watered constantly.
Doubtless, it was with the best of intentions that with the consent of ‘Cinderella’s’ uncle, the king, her parents sent the four year old to her grandmother, widow of the executed Charles I, who now lived in France.
As I write, I have before me a portrait of Anne as a small girl painted by an unknown artist at the French Court. She is plump and adorable, dressed in brocade and playing with a King Charles spaniel. Her eyes are wary set in an oval face with a mouth shaped in a perfect cupid’s bow.
In 1699, after Anne’s grandmother died, the little girl passed into the care of her father’s sister, Henrietta Maria, Duchess of Orleans, whom Anne’s uncle, the King of England doted on. In 1670 five year old Anne had to cope with yet another death, this time that of her aunt, whose husband, younger brother of the French king, was suspected of poisoning her.
Anne returned to England, her eyes only slightly improved, to be reunited with her parents. By then her mother was unpopular because she had converted to the Church of Rome and her father, who in 1699, gave serious consideration to his salvation took Holy Communion from a papist priest. Her parents’ decisions would have a long term effect on the young princess Anne’s future.