“I Am Her Majesty’s Subject”: Queen Anne, Prince George of Denmark, and the Transformation of the English Male Consort

  • Charles Beem
Part of the Queenship and Power book series (QAP)


Upon Queen Anne’s accession in March 1702, the first of her subjects to offer their homage was her husband, Prince George of Denmark.2 George of Denmark did not ascend the throne alongside his wife, as did the wives of male kings throughout English history.3 Although Mary I had married Philip of Spain one year after her accession, their marriage treaty, ratified as a parliamentary statute, reduced Philip’s role as king of England to that of a de facto consort, capable only of informal influence upon his wife’s government. Nevertheless, in a social context, Philip still shared his wife’s status, and enjoyed the style of king. George of Denmark, however, did not share his wife’s status, and settled, apparently quite happily, into the process of creating the informal role of prince consort. The continuing evolution of the gendering of the public role and office of female king, then, disposed of the male counterpart completely. Like Elizabeth I, Anne was a queen without a king. However, quite unlike Elizabeth, she had a husband, who played the public but informal role of a loyal and obedient subject.


Privy Council Good Wife Male Consort Male Heir Glorious Revolution 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Stuart J. Reid, John and Sarah Duke and Duchess of Marlborough: Based Upon Unpublished Letters and Documents of Blenheim Palace (London: John Murray, 1915), p. 106. This anecdote is also cited in Agnes Strickland, The Lives of the Queens of England, VIII, p. 157. Strickland noted “This is one of those floating anecdotes which may be almost considered oral; it is, however, printed in the antiquary Hutton’s visit to London, being a tour through Westminster-abbey, the Tower, &c., published in the Freemason’s Magazine, 1792 to 1795.”Google Scholar
  2. 6.
    “And that the sole and full exercise of the regal power be only in and executed by the said Prince of Orange in the names of the said Prince and Princess during their joynt lives,” Statutes of the Realm, vol. 6 (London: 1819), William and Mary, sess. 2, chap. 2, p. 143.Google Scholar
  3. 8.
    Robert Filmer, Patriarcha, Or the Natural Power of Kings (London: 1680).Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    For analyses of seventeenth-century patriarchal theory, see James Daly, Sir Robert Filmer and English Political Thought (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1979), and Elizabeth Ezell, The Patriarch’s Wife: Literary Evidence and the History of the Family (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1987).Google Scholar
  5. 10.
    John Locke, Second Treatise on Civil Government (an essay Concerning the True Original, Extent and end of civil government), and A Letter Concerning Toleration, ed. J.W. Gough (New York: Macmillan, 1956). For an analysis of the patriarchal qualities of Locke’s contract theory, see Carole Pateman, The Sexual Contract (Oxford: Polity, Basil Blackwell), pp. 34, 93–95.Google Scholar
  6. 11.
    For a recent study of the Glorious Revolution’s succession dilemma, see Howard Nenner, The Right To Be King: The Succession to the Crown of England, 1603–1702 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995), pp. 149–249.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 14.
    Richard Lodge, The Political History of England, 1660–1702 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1910). In this work, the first survey able to take full advantage of the cataloguing, editing, and publication of British historical sources in the nineteenth century, Lodge observed “Prince George was a nonentity in English affairs,” p. 232. Fifty-seven years later, in what remains a still standard political study, Geoffrey Holmes assigns very little agency to prince George, remarking that on the only occasion when Anne turned to her husband for political support, she did so only because of her estrangement from Godolphin, Harley, and both of the Marlboroughs. See British Politics in the Age of Queen Anne (London: Macmillan, 1967), p. 212.Google Scholar
  8. 23.
    James VI and I, The True Law of Free Monarchies and The Basilikon Doron, ed. Daniel Fischlin and Mark Fortier (Toronto: Center For Reformation and Renaissance Studies, 1996), passim.Google Scholar
  9. 24.
    See King James VI and I: Political Writings, ed. Johann P. Summerville (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 132–137.Google Scholar
  10. 29.
    For a recent study, see Ronald Hutton, Charles the Second, King of England, Scotland, and Ireland (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1989).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 30.
    Both Mary and Anne Stuart received training in languages, some history, but more importantly singing, dancing, and painting. See Nellie M. Waterson, Mary II Queen of England 1689–1694 (Durham N.C.: Duke University Press, 1928), pp. 3–9, also Henri and Barbara Van der Zee, William and Mary (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1973), pp. 57–58.Google Scholar
  12. 32.
    See Mark Kishlansky, A Monarchy Transformed (New York: Penguin, 1997), pp. 316–317. Although Kishlansky offered a humorous characterization of Anne’s proclivity for gambling, his overall analysis is post-Whig, arguing for Anne’s historical agency in the face of bitter, post-Glorious Revolution partisan politics.Google Scholar
  13. 33.
    See Gila Curtis, The Life and Times of Queen Anne (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1972), p. 28.Google Scholar
  14. 34.
    The Cambridge History of English Literature, vol. 9, ed. A.A. Ward and A.R. Walker (New York: G. Putnam, 1908), p. 449.Google Scholar
  15. 36.
    Gilbert Burnet, Bishop Burnet’s History of his Own Time, 5 vols. (Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1833, orig. pub. 1724–34) II, p. 132. Burnet, Bishop of Salisbury, was both an historian and contemporary commentator. Decidedly Whig in political outlook, Burnet enjoyed favor under William III, but Anne despised him. Nonetheless, Burnet generally commented favorably on George of Denmark in his History, without the political bias he leveled toward Anne. For a recent assessment of Burnet’s History, see Philip Hicks, Neoclassical History and English Culture (London: Macmillan, 1996), pp. 126–131.Google Scholar
  16. 38.
    See Stephen Baxter, William III and the Defence of European Liberty, 1650–1702 (Westport Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1966). Baxter’s work remains the most comprehensive analysis of William’s continental and English careers.Google Scholar
  17. 42.
    See J.P. Kenyon, Robert Spencer, Earl of Sutherland, 1641–1702 (London: Longmans, Green, and Co., 1958), p. 87. In a letter to the Earl of Conway, May 26, 1683, Francis Gywn recounted the swift coordination of the marriage treaty and the arrival of Prince George in England, printed in the Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, Charles II, January–June, 1683, ed. F.H. Blackburne Daniell (London, 1933) p. 296.Google Scholar
  18. 53.
    For a recent study of the exclusion crisis, see Mark Knights, Politics and Opinion in Crisis (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994). Still useful is R. Jones, The First Whigs: The Politics of the Exclusion Crisis, 1678–83 (New York: Greenwood, 1985, orig. pub. 1961).Google Scholar
  19. 56.
    John Evelyn, The Diary of John Evelyn, vol. 3, intro. and notes by Austin Dobson (London: Macmillan, 1906), p. 107. John Evelyn (1620–1706), a royalist supporter of Charles II who enjoyed royal patronage during the Restoration, kept a lively diary from 1640 until his death, recording his impressions of the major figures of his day, including this brief mention of Prince George.Google Scholar
  20. 70.
    The Correspondence of Henry Hyde, Earl of Clarendon, and his Brother Laurence Hyde, Earl of Rochester, II, ed. Samuel Weller Singer (London: Henry Colburn, 1828), pp. 314–315.Google Scholar
  21. 71.
    Narcissus Luttrell, A Brief Historical Relation of State Affairs From September 1678 to April 1714, 5 vols (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1857) II, p. 51. Luttrell’s political diary briefly recorded many of Prince George’s public appearances and political tasks from 1683 until his death in 1708.Google Scholar
  22. 81.
    See Lois G. Schwoerer, “Women and the Glorious Revolution,” Albion, 18, 2 (Summer 1986) pp. 195–218. In his declaration to the convention parliament, William reiterated his suspicion that “the pretended prince of Wales was not born by the Queen—many both doubted of the Queen’s bigness and the birth of the child,” Journal of the House of Commons, X (December 26, 1688–October 26 1693), p. 4.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 108.
    Abel Boyer, The History of Queen Anne (London: 1735), p. 6.Google Scholar
  24. 134.
    See William Coxe, Memoirs of John, Duke of Marlborough (London: Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, 1818), p. 78.Google Scholar
  25. 137.
    See Sources of English Constitutional History, 2 vols., ed. Carl Stephenson and George Marcham (New York: Harper and Row, 1972), II, pp. 610–612.Google Scholar
  26. 138.
    Ibid. Following Anne in the line of succession was Sophia, electress dowager of Hanover, granddaughter of James I and the nearest Protestant heir. Because of the eventuality of a series of women monarchs, the Act of Settlement bore a striking similarity to Mary I and Philip of Spain’s marriage treaty, in its articles barring foreigners from foreign office or inducing England to go to war in defense of lands not attached to the crown.Google Scholar
  27. 139.
  28. 141.
    For a recent analysis of the shift in perception from “estate” to “office,” see J.R. Jones, “The Revolution in Context,” Liberty Secured: Britain Before and After 1688, ed. J.R. Jones (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1992), pp. 11–52.Google Scholar
  29. 143.
    John Sharp, Archbishop of York, A Sermon Preached at the Coronation of Queen Anne (London: 1702).Google Scholar
  30. 144.
  31. 148.
    Thomas Lediard, The Life of John, Duke of Marlborough, 2 vols. (London: 1743), II p. 137. Lediard remarked that, of a plan to elevate George to the royal dignity, “nothing of that nature, as I have already observed, being proposed, or so much hinted at, either in the Queen’s speech or otherwise, by any member of either House.”Google Scholar
  32. 151.
    Winston Churchill, Marlborough: His Life and Times, 5 vols. (London: George C. Harrapond, 1933–38), II, p. 36.Google Scholar
  33. 157.
    Calendar of State Papers, Domestic, Anne, vol. 1, 1702–1703, ed. Robert Pentland McNaffy (London: 1916), pp. 85, 466.Google Scholar
  34. 166.
    A.S. Turberville, The House of Lords in the XVIII Century (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1970), p. 53.Google Scholar
  35. 172.
    See Jonathan Swift, “Memoirs Relating To that Change Which Happened in the Queen’s Ministry in the Year 1710,” ed. Herbert Davis and Irvin Ehrenpreis. The Prose Works of Jonathan Swift: Political Tracts, 1713–1719, 8 vols. (Oxford: 1954) I, pp. 112–13. According to Swift, “The Prince, thus intimated by [George] Churchill, reported to the Queen, that Marlborough would quit if Godolphin was turned out, so Harley was turned out.”Google Scholar
  36. 181.
    Sir Charles Cotteril, The Whole Life and Glorious Actions of Prince George of Denmark (London: 1708), p. 8. pp. 222–225, Dorothy Marshall, Lord Melbourne (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979), p. 144.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Charles Beem 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles Beem

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations