Mary II and Queen Anne

Mary and Anne were both daughters of James II, by his first wife Anne Hyde. When he came to the throne they were his only two surviving (legitimate) children. James and Anne had eight children altogether, but only Mary and Anne lived beyond the age of four.

James went on to have seven more children with his second wife, Mary of Modena; but only the last two survived beyond the age of five. These were James – who became known as "the Old Pretender" and was the father of Charles Edward Stuart, a.k.a. Bonnie Prince Charlie or the "Young Pretender" – and Louisa Maria Teresa, known to the Jacobites as the Princess Royal.

It was the birth of Prince James in 1688 that raised the spectre of a Catholic succession – Mary and Anne having retained the Protestant faith despite their father's secret conversion to Catholicism. A group of Protestant nobles invited William, Prince of Orange, whom Mary had married in 1677, to invade Britain. James fled to France and was deemed by Parliament to have abdicated; William and Mary were declared joint monarchs.

© Haydn Thompson 2017