Princess Anne’s mother died and her father, James, Duke of York, had taken the unpopular step of becoming a Roman Catholic. Her uncle, the childless King Charles II, knew politics demanded his heirs, Anne and her elder sister, Mary, be raised in the Protestant faith. He appointed Lady Frances Villiers, a committed Anglican, as their governess and leased Richmond palace to Frances and her husband.
The princesses benefited from country air and were privileged to live by the Thames in those days when, due to bad roads, the river was of great importance.
Anne’s indulgent father visited his daughters regularly, showered them with gifts and often stayed for several nights at Richmond Palace. Yet all was not well with the family. In 1673, due to the Test Act, which excluded anyone who did not take communion in the Anglican Church from public office, James was forced to resign as Lord High Admiral and to give up all his other official positions. In that age of fervent religious allegiances, I wonder what effect religious controversy and on Anne, a stubborn child.
What did Anne think when her father married fifteen year old Mary? History relates that James was captivated by his bride. Looking at a copy of her portrait, I’m not surprised. She was tall with a good figure, jet black hair, a fair skin and large eyes that her contemporaries at court described as ‘full of sweetness and light’. The proud bridegroom introduced his new wife to his daughters as a ‘playmate’ but Anne formed a bond, not with her stepmother, whose children would be raised in the Roman Catholic faith, but with vivacious Sarah Churchill, who would have such a profound influence on Anne’s life.
Motherless Anne, a Protestant ‘Cinderella’ of her times, has all the ingredients of a fictional heroine, but what would she make of her life? After all, she belonged to the tragic Stuart family.
It is in ‘Cinderella’s life and times that I have set my novel Tangled Hearts and am setting my new novel, Tangled Lives.
Tangled Hearts available from www.enspirenpress.com, Amazon and in bookshops.