Exactly 300 years ago today, at 7.45am on 1st August 1714, Anne Stuart, Queen of Great Britain, France and Ireland, died. Queen Anne is perhaps the most consistently underrated of all English monarchs, and here are ten reasons why she was pretty awesome:
1. She wasn’t a Hanoverian (she could even speak English)
2. She was James II’s daughter
3. She was the last Stuart monarch to rule Britain
4. She was the last monarch to chair meetings of her own cabinet
5. She was the last monarch to withhold the royal assent to a parliamentary bill (the 1708 Scottish Militia Bill)
6. She hated William of Orange
7. She never endorsed the Hanoverian succession
8. She presided over England’s last true Tory government in 1710-14
9. She set up Queen Anne’s Bounty to support poor clergymen (it still exists)
10. She built churches – lots of them – and presided over the completion of St Paul’s Cathedral in 1710
Yes, I know she also presided over the Act of Union, but she did nothing to prevent her brother James III and VIII from succeeding her (it was his refusal to convert to Protestantism that clinched that). Her reign represented the final Indian summer of Toryism, when many Jacobites were still members of the government and held high office in church and state; and she cherished the Church of England at the last period when genuine holiness and spirituality existed within that church.
1st August 1714 marked the beginning of a dark age of Whiggery, secularisation, foreign rule in England and oppression and genocide in Scotland. The only day that was darker was 30 January 1649.