Monday, 22 September 2014
How to choose a successor... when both candidates are awful?
When Queen Anne was dying, the two likeliest successors to the throne were her younger half-brother, James Stuart, and a cousin, George of Hanover.
For very good reasons, Anne was not keen on either. Which made it so much easier for the people around her to manipulate her into a decision that suited them.
James Stuart was the son of Anne's father, James II, by his Catholic second wife. The prince was taken from England as a baby, when James fled from increasing anti-Catholic sentiment. (Anne, a child of James's first marriage, was a young adult by then.) After their father died, the prince was politely described at the French court as James III of England - but he was never crowned, and in England he was known as The Pretender. New law prevented a Catholic like him from ever inheriting the throne, but laws could always be repealed...
George of Hanover was a great-grandson of James I. He spoke no English, and he was not Anglican, but Lutheran - but for many in England that was a lot better than being a Catholic. As a young man, George had visited England, where it was expected that he would propose marriage to Anne, then a young princess. But he didn't, and we can only guess how much this hurt her...
If you were Anne, would you have favoured a) the successor whom you had wronged, or b) the successor who had wronged you?