♪♪ -In the year 1707, a new global power was born.
The ancient kingdoms of Scotland and England were united to create Great Britain, a nation that would dominate the world for the next 200 years.
But the monarch who forged the union, Queen Anne, has been all but forgotten.
♪♪ This is the inside story of how gossip and salacious innuendo about Anne's love life destroyed her legacy.
Queen Anne ruled for 12 pivotal years, years which saw the creation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain.
But she's gone down in history as a feeble monarch, someone who was fat and sickly and pushed around by her politicians, and above all, her ladies-in-waiting, her favorites.
But was Anne really so weak and easily manipulated?
Or was that simply a myth?
-Whatever you have to say, you may put in writing.
-Is Anne the secret mother figure of the Great Britain we know today?
-Queen Anne herself was a very astute politician -And why's she given no credit for one of Britain's most significant military victories, the defeat of a superpower?
-A French army, the scourge of Europe, breaks and runs.
-All of Anne's achievements and victories seem to have been forgotten.
So who started this character assassination?
And why has Anne's memory been blackened for centuries?
♪♪ [ Bells tolling ] -Queen Anne's path to the throne begins in 1688.
The upheavals of the Reformation were far from over.
France and Spain were still fighting to restore Catholicism in England.
And they had a royal ally.
Anne's father, King James II, had converted to the faith.
♪♪ [ Gunshot ] The country's Protestants rose up, and Anne had to make a hard choice.
Anne was brought up a Protestant.
So now she was in a terrible position.
She had to either abandon her religion or abandon her father.
In this dilemma, though, she was supported by her childhood best friend, almost her soul mate, Sarah Churchill.
History remembers Queen Anne as a weak and dithering monarch.
But her bold decision to join the revolt reveals this to be a myth right from the start.
There's a sentry guarding the door.
Anne is trapped in her rooms.
But Sarah finds an unguarded back staircase, and at the bottom of it, she's got a hackney carriage waiting.
And Sarah Churchill would be by Anne's side all the way to the throne.
When James heard what had happened, he burst into tears -- "God help me," he said.
"My own children have forsaken me."
One observer said that he felt the loss of his daughter as badly as the loss of his army.
James now lost heart and he fled into exile in France.
♪♪ Anne's older sister Mary now took the throne, with her protestant husband, the Dutch William of Orange.
By joining the revolt, Anne had also positioned herself to inherit the Stuart crown.
Sarah and Anne had made a sensational escape.
This was such a bold move.
And they were now more than friends.
They were partners in crime.
♪♪ Queen Anne came to the throne 14 years later, in 1702.
The rule of her sister and her Dutch brother-in-law had been unpopular in England, and Anne was committed to the nation's revival.
As a young woman, Anne had predicted that, "England will flourish again."
And now she aimed to make good on that.
But the new Queen's reign was already being undermined by the prejudices of her politicians and subjects.
Many were against her simply because she was a woman.
Despite 17 pregnancies, she and her husband, George, had also failed to produce a Protestant heir.
And many believed she was too sick to defend Protestant England against the might of Catholic France and Spain.
Anne's various illnesses seemed impossible to cure.
Her symptoms included a blotchy red face, sore legs, horribly swollen feet.
Her doctors said all this was "gout."
And if the illnesses sound bad, the treatments sound almost worse.
There was blood-letting, placing of hot irons on her skin, and blistering.
Add in arthritis, and the poor woman really was a prisoner in her own body.
♪♪ Back then, they said it was caused by gluttony and excessive drinking.
But this is another myth.
♪♪ The illnesses were real.
Modern doctors have diagnosed the debilitating autoimmune disease lupus.
Anne's enemies saw it as a sign of moral weakness.
A Scottish MP called Sir John Clerk once met Queen Anne, and he said it was like meeting "the most despicable mortal in the world."
He said she had a blotted countenance and she was surrounded with plasters and dirty-like rags.
Now, personally, I think it's impressive that Queen Anne did the job of being Queen despite her physical condition.
And I suspect that the negative views of her reign that will last for 300 years have been shaped by this and other juicy quotations about the imperfections of her body.
♪♪ -At this period, the monarch is not just a figurehead.
So if the monarch is chronically unwell, that really puts the nation, politics, Parliament, the state in peril.
With Anne, I think this is accentuated because she is a woman.
If there's one long-term purpose of a queen, it's create the next generation, the next monarch.
So Anne's health, and in particular her fertility, is a subject of intense scrutiny throughout her reign.
And of course it's an area where she experiences great tragedy and sadness, and ultimately, she fails.
♪♪ -One of Anne's first tasks as Queen was to address a speech to Parliament.
Once again, expectations were low.
♪♪ [ Men shouting ] In the early 18th century, Parliament was a brutal place.
There were two factions who despised each other.
[ Shouting continues ] The Whigs were a party of business, the metropolitan elite.
They wanted to restore England's glory by going to war with Catholic France.
And they believed Parliament should curtail the power of the monarch.
[ Shouting continues ] The Tories were landed gentry -- country squires.
They resisted going to war with France because it would lead to an increase in land tax.
They were committed monarchists.
Tory values could be summed up as "God, Queen and country."
[ Shouting continues ] Anne dreaded entering this bear pit.
To make matters worse, one of her ministers said that she was "too unwieldy and lame' even to appear before Parliament.
It looked like it was going to be a disaster.
But Anne had a secret weapon.
♪♪ Sarah Churchill had ensured that her friend was immaculately dressed, perfectly prepped, and stunningly regal.
Sarah had also arranged for Anne to be carried into Parliament.
♪♪ ♪♪ She learned her speech off by heart.
People noticed she gave it "without book" -- no notes.
And she said, "There is nothing you could expect or desire me to do that I wouldn't do for the happiness and prosperity of England."
But it was another line of the speech which became a sort of a meme and got relayed around the country.
She said, "I know my own heart to be entirely English."
And this was a dig at her predecessor, the unpopular Dutch King William III.
It went down a storm.
Many of the doubts about her reign were beginning to melt away.
"Her Majesty charmed both houses on Wednesday," reported one observer.
"Never any woman spoke more audibly or with better grace."
The Earl of Sunderland gushed, "If she acts as she speaks, she will be safe, happy and adored."
♪♪ Anne had done brilliantly.
-Queen Anne herself was a very astute politician, and she was a very shrewd manipulator of political actors to her own ends.
-But Anne's cleverly planned debut would soon be forgotten due to the machinations of her political enemies.
In the early 18th century, the position of Prime Minister hadn't yet been established.
The monarch selected MPs for the top jobs and approved policy.
Anne was often caught in the crossfire between what she called the "merciless men."
But the standard story of her reign diverts our attention away from Parliament and on to intrigues at court.
History and Hollywood have often painted Queen Anne as a woman under the thumb of other women -- her favorites.
They controlled access to the Queen for political purposes.
Now, like all myths, there's a grain of truth at the heart of this, but really, it's very much of an exaggeration.
♪♪ An undoubted favorite of Anne's was her old childhood friend Sarah, who'd helped her escape St. James' Palace all those years ago.
♪♪ Sarah Churchill was married to John Churchill, the Earl of Marlborough, an ambitious army general and statesman.
♪♪ Politically, Sarah supported the Whig Party, and rival Tory ministers were deeply suspicious of her influence over the Queen.
♪♪ It is true that Sarah's massively influential.
She's the Queen's Mistress of the Robes, her Keeper of the Privy Purse, and her Groom of the Stole, as symbolized by her golden key of office.
This means that Sarah controls Anne's clothes, her social life, and her money.
♪♪ But stories depicting the Queen as Sarah's puppet were often motivated by jealousy of her Sarah's power and privileges.
-Lady Sarah Churchill had one of the most important apartments at Hampton Court.
-And this was her little closet, dressing room area?
-This was her closet or dressing room.
-How does it compare to other rooms the courtiers had in the palace?
-It is as richly decorated as the monarch's apartment.
-So it's a very, very cushy little room she's got here.
-It is the best place in the palace if you're a courtier, because it is so close to the most private spaces of the monarch.
-Queen Anne would have slept right next door.
-Very cozy arrangement.
-Well, if you're the Queen, you don't want to be sleeping in the grand chambers upstairs.
They're cold and not very comfortable.
A room like this is much more homely, much more cozy.
You have to imagine it once had a bed in it.
-A bed in it, yes.
That's a big part of her life being surrounded by women in these funny little downstairs rooms.
-Yes, but because women are there, they can also talk politics with the Queen.
-There's no escape, is there, if you're the Queen?
-Monarchs can't have normal relationships because everybody wants something from them.
♪♪ -At Hampton Court, any politician hoping to influence the Queen in the early years of her reign needed access to her private study.
The Queen was both extremely ill and extremely shy.
She kept away from high society.
She kept herself to herself, mainly in the company of her ladies.
So if you were an ambitious politician, how would you get access to Her reclusive Majesty?
♪♪ Well, there are two routes.
Here's the official way... Firstly, you'd come up this epically grand staircase with its magnificent murals.
♪♪ Right down at the other end there is Queen Anne's study.
It seems an awfully long way away.
And between us and it, there all these different rooms, each with its own door and its own lock and its own guard.
These rooms form a hierarchy.
And the more important you are, the deeper you're allowed to penetrate into the palace.
But ultimately, it was the Queen's favorite who'd decide whether you were allowed into the Royal presence or not.
♪♪ But this isn't the only way in to see the Queen.
These are the backstairs.
It's a working part of the palace.
This is where servants would bring things up to the Queen's study.
The only people who are supposed to use these stairs are servants themselves, and of course, the Queen's favorite.
♪♪ And it was the Queen's number one favorite, Sarah Churchill, who controlled that backstairs access to Anne.
Clever politicians knew that they had to go through her for an audience with their monarch.
The power-hungry Sarah now had even more influence.
One of the Queen's first appointments was Sarah Churchill's husband, Lord Marlborough.
He was keen to go to war with France to crush the Catholic threat.
He would lead the Queen's army.
For many historians, this looks like a blatant favor to Sarah and the Whigs.
But it's a myth that Anne was a mere puppet whose strings were pulled by politicians.
Look closer, and you'll see the Queen played a significant role in political affairs.
Anne is clever enough to take advice.
But she's also put both Whigs and Tories into her cabinet.
She's no pushover.
-If any of the Whigs think I am to be frightened or hectored into compliance because I am a woman, they are mightily mistaken in me.
-Bravo, Your Majesty.
♪♪ -Anne was holding her own.
But her tragic lack of children was still a problem.
England's stability as a Protestant nation was at stake.
Scouring the family tree for a Protestant heir meant skipping over no fewer than 50 eligible Catholics.
The next contender was a German called Sophia of Hanover.
And Anne would do everything in her power to fix this Protestant succession.
♪♪ But the Catholic threat was growing.
A royal crisis in Spain was taking England to the brink of war.
Charles II of Spain was also childless.
On his death, Spain and its colonies would pass to the grandson of the King of France.
This would create a Catholic mega-empire intent on restoring a Catholic king to the English throne.
The War of the Spanish Succession was brewing.
This was one of the greatest tests for Queen Anne and her Protestant allies in Europe.
♪♪ -This war determined the future of Europe, and in many ways the future of world civilization.
There's no question that the consequences are world consequences.
If Louis XIV controls the wealth of the Spanish Empire, essentially that's a global empire for him.
-Why does Louis threaten Queen Anne quite so much?
-Well, he would remove her from the throne.
The fear was that they would impose Catholicism on the nation, so actually asking the nation to change its religion yet again.
Imagine the bloodshed.
-Queen Anne's military legacy tends to be forgotten.
But in 1704, she overruled the Tories and backed the hawkish Duke of Marlborough.
Anne's shrewd choice of military commander was about to pay dividends.
-Marlborough definitely wants to take the war to Louis XIV, but he's got these allies.
He has the Dutch allies, and quite frankly, they're frightened of the reputation of Louis XIV.
France's armies had dominated the continent for over half a century.
Louis the XIV was unbeatable, unstoppable.
There's a real sense -- 'We can't really beat him.
Why are we even trying?"
In 1704, the French give actually Marlborough his opportunity.
Basically, a French army in conjunction with a Bavarian army is driving to towards Vienna.
-So Louis is marching on Vienna.
What's Marlborough going to do about that?
-So he works out a plan with Prince Eugene of Savoy, the allied commander in the South, that what they're going to do is Savoy is going to march north, Marlborough is going to march south, and they will meet and cut the French forces off before they reach Vienna.
Now to do this, it's a major logistical undertaking.
Marlborough actually has to set out shoes and boots along the route because he is going to march his troops so far and so fast that they are going to wear out their footwear.
♪♪ The two armies meet on the way to Vienna.
What happens at the battle is that Marlborough proves himself a tactical genius.
He makes a feint early in the morning towards the village of Blindheim.
He draws the French forces off from the river.
He saves his cavalry till the afternoon.
When he sends into the 81 squadrons of cavalry, they smash through the French lines, and people see something they haven't seen in a century -- a French army.
The scourge of Europe breaks and runs for the river.
At the end of the day, Marlborough is exhausted.
He's on horseback He writes a note to his wife, Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough.
"Quickly, give me a piece of paper."
He writes on the back of a tavern bill, "Please tell the Queen her army has won a glorious victory."
And that message is in fact the announcement of England's arrival on the world stage.
-You're making me feel quite proud to be English.
[ Both laugh ] -Well... -Queen's Anne's army had won the most crushing victory against the French since Agincourt.
On hearing the news, Anne said it gave her more joy than she had ever received in her life.
Not bad at all for a Queen who'd go down in history as a disaster.
♪♪ Queen Anne's army had shattered French morale.
It had stopped Austria from being invaded.
It had won one of the most decisive victories in European history.
England was now in the ascendant.
And here was the Duke of Marlborough's reward from his Queen -- the Palace of Blindheim, or in plain English, Blenheim.
♪♪ Historians have presented this as purely Marlborough's victory.
The usual story rarely acknowledges that it was the Queen who appointed him.
Elizabeth I gets remembered for beating the Spanish Armada.
Mrs. Thatcher gets remembered for winning the Falklands War.
Why doesn't Queen Anne get remembered?
-Queen Anne was fully the equal of any of her Tudor predecessors, but she lacked the star quality of Queen Elizabeth and other people who've sat on the British throne.
She was quiet, she was shy, she was significantly overweight.
And I think people then and people today still draw conclusions about that which amount to mere prejudice.
You never hear "fat and competent," "fat and politically astute," and yet that's exactly what Anne was.
She knew who she was, and was exactly the queen that England and then later Great Britain needed during her reign.
♪♪ -The war with France continued.
And it was getting closer to home.
Louis XIV was eyeing up a French alliance with Scotland.
Together, they could perhaps crush England.
But the Queen had a solution.
And it would also help secure the Protestant succession.
♪♪ England and Scotland shared one monarch, but had two separate Parliaments.
Anne was urging Scotland to join a united Parliament in London in return for economic rewards.
This would shut the door on a French alliance with Scotland and secure the Protestant Hanoverian succession.
Great Britain was about to be born.
The story of how the union came about usually goes something like this -- England said to Scotland, "How about it?
Shall we get together?"
The Scottish nobles thought about it, debated it, and eventually decided, yes.
The only people who thought that this was a bad idea were a small rabble of dissenters.
Most people in England and Scotland thought it was great.
What a triumph!
But this version of the story is one of the biggest myths in British history.
Scotland's archives reveal the truth about the people's response to the idea of a union with England.
What do you think that people generally in Scotland felt about the union when it was proposed?
-If you had an opinion, I think contemporaries would have said most Scots were against it.
-We've got here a copy of a petition from the Scottish National Archives which is saying, "We don't want the union."
-So this is a petition from the inhabitants and the trades and merchants of the borough of Aire.
It's signed by over a thousand people, which is very large for this time.
So it's signed by officers of the trade guilds, senior merchants, and then as it goes down, you get more ordinary people.
We can see the initials of people who are not actually literate enough to sign their full signature.
-And -- well, there are lots of these petitions.
And what about the pro-union petitions?
Where are they?
-There's only one petition that we can call pro-union, and it's from the borough council of Aire, and they say, "We're okay with this union in principle, but could you please amend some of the articles of the treaty?"
-How many petitions were there against the union that survive?
-There are about 80 petitions, and they're signed by approximately 20,000 people, which for the time is a lot.
-And there was one pro-union petition?
At the time, there was a very strong sense of national identity.
People saw Scotland as an ancient kingdom that had been around -- according to history of the time -- for 2,000 years.
And it was seen as really dishonorable to give that up.
-The real story of the union involved the bribery of Scottish politicians with the promise of titles and riches.
♪♪ The Duke of Hamilton was a Scottish anti-unionist hero.
But late one September night in 1705, he abruptly changed his tune.
[ Bells tolling ] The Scottish Parliament was debating how to choose commissioners to negotiate for Scotland over the suggested union.
[ Bells tolling ] The Duke of Hamilton suddenly did a very surprising thing.
He announced that he thought that the Queen ought to pick her own commissioners.
This was inexplicable to the rest of the opposition.
They were confused.
They were dismayed.
They walked out of the chamber.
And this allowed the motion to slip through by just eight votes.
♪♪ Hamilton had been bribed.
He would later become the first British Ambassador to France.
His U-turn allowed Anne to select Scotland's own negotiators.
Anne was getting exactly what she wanted.
Not exactly the action of a politically naive pushover.
♪♪ This corridor behind 10 Downing Street once led to once Henry VIII's cockfighting pit.
And it was here that the Queen's ruthless battle for the union was won.
♪♪ The two teams of commissioners were kept apart from each other in separate locked rooms, and written messages were exchanged.
So 300 years ago, this corridor was where it was all at with messages going up and down.
Scotland's future was at stake here.
And yet the Scottish negotiating team had been neutered.
The deal was struck in just three days.
The two Parliaments would be united in London as Her Majesty's Parliament of Great Britain.
Scotland would be free to trade with England's colonies.
And the Protestant Hanoverians would succeed Queen Anne to both the Scottish and English thrones.
♪♪ Now Anne's deal went back to be approved by the Scottish Parliament.
Once again, Anne's ministers manipulated the outcome.
20,000 pounds worth of English gold -- about 5 million today -- was used to "persuade" Scots MPs to vote for union.
Here in the hall of the Scottish Parliament, MPs voted their independence away.
Scotland's national poet, Rabbie Burns, was appalled by the corruption and lies.
-[ Singing ] -So the last line we heard there was, "Such a parcel of rogues in a nation!"
Why is Robert Burns so cross with the Scottish people?
-So he's reflecting the notion that the union was made with a degree of corruption.
It is a marriage of convenience.
It is created because there is no successor to Anne.
And that problem needs to be solved.
If Anne had had a surviving child, it probably would not have happened at that point in time.
-So amazingly, the union really came down to the womb of one woman.
Queen Anne's lack of a successor is what drives the union.
-It's an incredible thought.
By May 1707, Anne had secured a Protestant succession, foiled the French alliance with Scotland, and created Great Britain into the bargain.
Next on the Queen's to-do list -- bringing the bloody war with France to an end.
But Anne wasn't just making political decisions.
She was making changes in her personal life, too.
And Sarah Churchill, for so long the Queen's closest confidant, was about to find herself out in the cold.
♪♪ Anne's attention had been caught by a new addition to the household staff, Sarah's cousin, Abigail Masham.
And in no time at all, Abigail was on the most intimate terms with the Queen.
♪♪ The Queen now has a new favorite.
It's Abigail who attends to her day and night.
But just how close is the relationship between Abigail and Anne?
That's a matter that remains shrouded in mystery.
♪♪ Abigail Masham was the cousin of the Tory leader Robert Harley.
And she gave him special access to the Queen.
And Harley was the finest political schemer of his age.
-His nickname is "the Backstairs Dragon."
He's called the Backstairs Dragon because he's always thought to have some Machiavellian plan.
He's always playing both sides against the middle.
This is a man who always has three or four plots going at once.
-The Queen worked with Harley on secret plans to make a peace treaty with France.
♪♪ Sarah and the Whigs were utterly furious.
♪♪ Speculation about Abigail's relationship with the Queen has diverted attention from Anne's shrewd political tactics ever since.
A popular song began spreading a rumor originating from Sarah which would destroy the Queen's reputation.
♪♪ ♪♪ -Ballads had already been very popular right from Shakespeare's day, and they were the way that people enjoyed themselves singing.
It was very much a part of oral culture in ale houses and inns and taverns... -Nice.
-...to sing popular songs.
-[ Speaks indistinctly ] -In this period, it becomes a way of expressing political satire.
And so you can have a ballad about a king and a pauper without naming the king or naming the individuals involved.
And you could satirize what was going on in politics without ending up in the Tower of London.
So they have to have a thinly disguised satire on what's going on in high places.
When as Q-U... A... -That's Queen Anne.
-Well, we can recognize immediately it's Queen Anne, and so would people at the time.
"When as Queen Anne of great Renown, Great Britain's Scepter sway'd Besides the Church, she dearly lov'd A Dirty Chamber-Maid."
-"O, Abby... that was her Name."
-That's Abigail Masham, isn't it?
-This is about Abigail.
"She and starch'd and stitch'd full well, But how she pierc'd this Royal Heart, No Mortal Man can tell."
-She "pierc'd this Royal Heart."
That is romance then.
It's cross-class romance.
-Whoever's written the ballad is causing mischief and really kind of putting Abigail down.
She's being positioned as an ignorant low-born woman who is illiterate, but had the conduct and the care of some dark deeds at night.
-Dark deeds at night.
Well, that's got to be girl-on-girl action.
It's a trivial thing on one level, but it's been really influential, hasn't it, in shaping our view of Queen Anne?
-It's like a pop song that's also spreading gossip and rumor and political intrigue.
-Well, even if there's no smoking gun proving it was Sarah, you'd also think, "Who else could it have been?"
It must have been her.
-It must have been her.
And I think definitely Sarah is playing with fire here.
She's engaging in an open propaganda wars.
♪♪ Great Britain was now alive with rumors that Abigail and Anne were lovers.
Do you think that dark deeds actually happened in the night in this room?
-We will never know for sure.
If we could make these walls talk, we might know.
But there's no reason just because of who Anne was, the position she had in society, and the time she lived in that she might not have felt same-sex love and desire.
-What kind of evidence would you expect anyway?
It's not really going to exist, is it?
-Very often, evidence doesn't survive because it was taboo.
Who would write this down, and why would you write it down?
If you're whispering intimate secrets to somebody, you don't need to write them a letter.
Sarah knew Anne better than anyone else.
Sarah would have known that there could have been a grain of truth in her rumors.
But the unintended consequence of that is that people assume that not only Abigail was having an intimate relationship with the Queen, but that Sarah had as well.
♪♪ -Sarah's relationship with Anne was by now spiraling downwards.
At St. Paul's Cathedral in 1708, Queen Anne and Sarah were attending a service of thanks for another Marlborough victory over the French.
Sarah had laid out spectacular jewels for Anne to wear.
But on the way to St Paul's, she noticed that Anne hadn't put them on.
To Sarah, the message was clear.
The Queen didn't value Sarah's husband's victory enough to be bothered to wear the jewels to the ceremony to celebrate it.
And Sarah also thought that she could detect the influence of Abigail here.
And if Abigail was in, then Sarah was out.
In the coach, they argued, and it all grew to a head as they arrived here at the cathedral, where Sarah's feelings boiled over as they were going up the steps.
[ Crowd cheering ] Crowds were all around them as the argument continued.
There were lots of people here at the entrance to the cathedral, and as the Queen came in, they all heard Sarah saying to her, "Be quiet!"
Everybody heard Sarah telling the Queen to shut up.
This was terrible.
This was still an age when queens were considered to be semi-divine, and here was Anne being humiliated in public by her own servant.
This time, Sarah had gone too far.
♪♪ The Queen who's been remembered as a feeble puppet was in fact now ready to dismiss her life-long friend.
Sarah resorted to blackmail.
To back up the rumors about Anne's sexuality, she said she'd publish intimate letters the Queen had sent her over the years.
So what is the truth about Anne's sexuality?
These letters are often taken as so-called "evidence" that Queen Anne was our lesbian queen.
What's your take on the letters as support for that or not?
-Well, I mean, you know, the letters obviously don't contain anything that explicit about some carnal relationship, so I think the only thing we do know for which there is evidence in the letters is the emotional intensity of their relationship, especially on Anne's part.
-Sarah said that Anne's letters were sometimes full of flames of extravagant passion.
What sort of thing was she referring to?
-She was referring to letters like this one.
"I have been in expectation of you a long time but can stay no longer without desiring to know what you intend to do with me, for it is most certain I can't go to bed without seeing you.
Could you see my heart, you would find I have not one thought but what I ought to of the dear woman who my soul loves."
-"The dear woman who my soul loves."
-It's such a special feeling to read such an intimate letter.
-I truly feel that if you were a royal woman, as well, you would be married off at a young age to an arranged match that was all about producing the kids, really.
So you would naturally seek emotional fulfillment, wouldn't you?
-Yeah, I mean, Anne did, I think -- she did really like/love her husband, but there's certainly no correspondence like this between her and George.
I mean, the suggestion that there is something unnatural about Anne's feelings for other women really originates from Sarah herself.
So here we have Sarah writing to Anne about Anne having "no inclination for any but of one's own sex."
-So the evidence for Anne being what we might call gay is shaky.
But after Sarah's threat of blackmail, the relationship between the once-close friends broke down completely.
♪♪ Sarah knows she's gone too far, and she tries to patch things up.
But for Anne -- whew -- too little, too late.
-You are my friend and my Queen.
-Whatever you have to say, you may put in writing.
-Why have you forsaken me for her?
-You said you desired no answer, and I will give you none.
-If I tormented you, or did not behave with decency -- -Whatever you have to say, you may put in writing.
-Dearest Anne, why?
-You said you desired no answer, and I will give you none.
♪♪ -The Queen's best friend forever has just been de-friended.
Queen Anne dismissed Sarah from her court.
When she moved out, Sarah asked if she could store her belongings at St. James' Palace.
Anne agreed, but the rent would be ten shillings a week.
Sarah was spitting with rage.
So she took with her all sorts of things that she shouldn't have done, like the mantelpieces and the doorknobs.
If it moved, Sarah swiped it.
So Anne retaliated.
She stopped the building works here at Blenheim.
She said, "I'm not going to build a house for the Duke if his Duchess is taking my house to pieces."
What had been a beautiful friendship had become a furious feud, and the Queen hadn't finished yet.
This would become battle royal.
In January 1711, Sarah was forced to return that golden key of office.
She and her husband were also advised to leave England to avoid further trouble.
Harley's Tories had won election, with the promise of signing a peace treaty with France and Spain.
But the Whigs still wanted to fight on to victory.
And they outnumbered the Tories in the House of Lords.
The Queen was desperate to win.
So she and Harley resorted to a strategy that was described as a mighty stretch of her powers.
She knew that she didn't have enough Tory Lords to win the vote.
So before you could even say "dodgy," she just created a dozen new ones.
This was shocking to Parliament.
One observer said it was as stunning as if she'd burnt Magna Carta.
♪♪ The Queen had won again.
And this peace treaty would transform Britain.
History rarely even remembers Anne's Treaty of Utrecht.
But it changed the world.
It marked the end of French dominance in Europe.
And it landed some massive trade deals for Britain.
One of the most lucrative was with Spain.
It was called the Assiento.
It gave Britain a 30-year monopoly in a trade that would turn us into the world's greatest economic power, a trade in slaves.
How do you feel about narratives that still exist that present Queen Anne's reign as the epic beginnings of this fantastic thing, the British Empire?
-There's some truth in that, in the sense that all the conditions are being created for this take-off when Britain was able to dominate world politics, and all of that is facilitated by the human trafficking of African men, women, and children in their... not just tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands, but millions.
-How essential was the slave trade to Britain's 18th century economy?
Well, you can't think of Britain's economy in the 18th century without what's called the slave trade.
You're stimulating ship building because you need the ships, rope building, sail making, everything connected with weapons, alcohol, metal industries.
So if we look at all the kind of major cities of this period, something like a city like Manchester developed based on this trade.
The Bank of England, the British Museum, the -- everything.
All the stately homes in the country.
All the wealth of this period is connected with colonial trade.
♪♪ -Queen Anne's deal is shocking today.
But the Assiento and the Treaty of Utrecht launched an Empire of which the Tudors could only dream.
♪♪ Elizabeth I was Anne's much-admired heroine, a she'd held a thanksgiving at St. Paul's after seeing off the Spanish Armada.
Now Anne was going to go one better.
There was planned -- also at St. Paul's -- a procession of 4,000 children.
They were going to sing hymns to God thanking Him for Her Majesty and for the gift of peace.
For the music of the thanksgiving, Anne included a sneaky bit of support for the Hanoverian succession.
♪♪ The English composer Purcell was out... and the German composer Handel was in.
♪♪ Handel's previous patron had been the Hanoverian court.
♪♪ But once again, Anne's body was to let her down.
This was supposed to be her moment of glory -- but she was too ill to attend.
♪♪ ♪♪ The Queen would also miss the unveiling of this statue.
Anne had shown the courage by using military force at crucial moments.
But she'd also shown wisdom by making peace when she had the chance.
Sounds like exactly what you'd hope for in a natural-born leader, doesn't it?
Like her heroine Elizabeth I, Anne had been victorious.
And she'd helped create the Europe that we know today.
♪♪ After a lifetime beset by illness, on 1st of August 1714, at the age of 49, Queen Anne died.
Today's she's been all but forgotten.
But in just 12 years, England had been transformed into a new world power -- the mighty Great Britain.
And despite her fertility problems, Anne had also fixed the smooth succession of a new Protestant dynasty.
On the 18th of September 1714, a man called Georg Ludwig landed here at Greenwich.
He'd just arrived from Hanover in Germany.
Now, his English wasn't that great, and certainly today he would have struggled with the citizenship test.
But pretty soon, he would be crowned King George I. Sarah Churchill, though, had used her time in exile spreading her myths to blacken Anne's reputation in Europe.
Despite all her victories, the Queen's legacy was undermined.
This statue is supposed to celebrate Anne's military success, but pretty soon after it got put up, it was graffitied.
A disrespectful rhyme appeared calling her "Brandy Nan."
"Brandy Nan," it went, "left in the lurch, face to the gin shop, back to the church."
She didn't even have the respect of Georgian street urchins.
♪♪ Sarah's final act of revenge for the Whigs came nearly 30 years after Anne's death.
She scandalized Britain with a treacherous account of her time in the Queen's service.
What kind of a Queen Anne emerges from Sarah's kiss-and-tell memoir?
-Anne mainly comes out of this book as seeming just very boring and insipid and quite weak.
So that image of Anne as not being as intelligent or as in control of the course of events, really, is reinforced by the way she's depicted in this memoir.
Sarah really just treats Anne as quite an infantile character.
-So this little book -- it's just a little book, but it has torpedoed Anne's reputation in history.
♪♪ Sarah wasn't the last Churchill to re-write Anne's story.
♪♪ In 1874, another Churchill, Winston, was born at Blenheim Palace.
♪♪ As he grew up, he was fascinated by his ancestor, the Duke of Marlborough.
He dubbed him "John Duke."
The great 19th century historian Thomas Macaulay had cast a shadow over his memory -- "The splendid qualities of John Churchill were mingled with alloy of the most sordid kind," he'd said.
But Winston Churchill wasn't going to take that slur on his family name.
As a backbench MP in the 1930s, he began writing a biography of his famous ancestor.
By the time he'd finished his book, Winston Churchill had fought and re-fought the Duke of Marlborough's world war over and over again in his mind.
He was using history to prepare himself for his own World War.
"The longer you can look back," he said, "the farther you can look forward."
One of Winston's own biographers said that the great showman aimed to "blast Macaulay out of the water."
In Winston Churchill's colorful prose, the Duke of Marlborough, John Duke, gets a dramatic rehabilitation.
How about this?
"Behind Queen Anne, ever faithful in her service, lay the pervading genius of Marlborough with his enchanted sword."
In trumpeting Marlborough as this great hero, he relegated Queen Anne to bit-part player, sidelined, infantilized, and misrepresented.
♪♪ Winston Churchill wrote that, "Marlborough was not only the chief but the sole guide of the Queen, and the decisions to which he obtained her assent shaped the future.
Anne relied on Marlborough."
-[ Woman singing ] -Churchill was patronizing to Queen Anne in order to rescue the reputation of his beloved John Duke.
But it's Sarah Churchill's fibs that have most distorted her memory.
-[ Woman singing ] -Sarah Churchill's version of the story has had 250 years now to stew and to spread.
And her juicy titbits about "dark deeds done at night" are so powerful that they've pushed all the other stories that could have been told about Queen Anne out of our minds.
♪♪ Queen Anne's story shows just how dangerous royal history's myths and secrets can be.
♪♪ We should set aside the poisonous tone of Sarah Churchill's memoirs to reveal the real Queen Anne.
She was significant.
She gave the world Great Britain, for better or for worse.
She saved the nation from the French.
We need to rescue Anne from the mythology and restore her to her rightful place in royal history.
♪♪ -Next time -- Marie Antoinette and the French Revolution.
[ Flame whooshes ] Was Marie Antoinette truly the cause of all the trouble?
Let them eat cake!
Was the revolutionary leader Maximilien Robespierre really a bloodthirsty villain?
♪♪ And were the peasants the real driving force behind this people's revolt?
-It's surprising that the revolution was started by people who were bourgeois.