Queen Anne

“Whoever of ye Whigs thinks I am to be Hecktor'd or frighted into a Complyance tho I am a woman, are mightely mistaken in me.”

Anne, Queen of Great Britain, 1665-1714

Queen Anne reigned Great Britain from 1702 until her death in 1714. She is remembered as being the last monarch in the Stuart line of Scottish monarchs as, despite 17 pregnancies, she sadly left no heir. Wed in an arranged marriage at age 18 to Prince George of Denmark, Queen Anne had a vivacious personality, and was known to race around her estates in a self-driven, one-horse chaise. She was also fond of hunting, and is said to have had a hand in the design of the gardens at Kensington Palace, where she lived and died. Queen Anne’s lace, the white lace-like flower, is more likely named for her mother.

Having spent much time in France in her childhood for medical treatment for her eyes, she spoke French fluently, which was useful in diplomatic relations, and despite being shy, she was known as an excellent public speaker. She is remembered for both her strong marriage and for her passionate female relationships with the ladies of her court, dramatized in 2018s The Favourite for which Olivia Coleman, playing Queen Anne, won an Oscar. Less well-known is Queen Anne’s influence over the social life of women of the era. Britain was at war with France for much of her reign (the so-called Queen Anne’s war of 1702-1713) and so drinking French brandy fell out of favor. Her brother-in-law, King William III, had brought jenever, the predecessor of gin, with him from the Netherlands. But it was Queen Anne who is credited with making gin the fashionable drink it is today.

During her reign, the Queen reduced taxes and relaxed the distilling laws allowing Brits to open distilleries in and around London. Known to tipple in gin herself, it was now acceptable to drink it in the courts and eventually led to what was dubbed the “Gin Craze” around Great Britain. Both men and women could distill and drink gin equally, which was an exciting venture into public life for women in the 18th century. Hendrick’s Gin, the historic Scottish company, has preserved this legacy to this day, through its female Master Distiller, Lesley Gracie, who is one of only seven people in the world to know the exact Hendrick’s formula. 


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