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Anne, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange

Anne, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange

Dutch princess
The basics
Quick Facts
Intro Dutch princess
Countries Kingdom of Great Britain Netherlands
Occupations Politician Painter
Gender female
Birth 2 November 1709 (Hanover)
Death 12 January 1759 (The Hague)
Mother: Caroline of Ansbach
Father: George II of Great Britain
Siblings: FrederickPrince of WalesPrince George William of Great BritainPrince WilliamDuke of CumberlandJohann LudwigReichsgraf von Wallmoden-GimbornLouise of Great BritainPrincess Caroline of Great BritainPrincess Mary of Great BritainPrincess Amelia of Great Britain
Spouse: William IVPrince of Orange
Children: Princess Carolina of Orange-NassauWilliam VPrince of Orange
The details

Anne, Princess Royal and Princess of Orange (2 November 1709 – 12 January 1759) was the second child and eldest daughter of King George II of Great Britain and his consort, Caroline of Ansbach. She was the spouse of William IV, Prince of Orange, the first hereditary stadtholder of the Netherlands. Princess Anne was the second daughter of a British sovereign to hold the title Princess Royal. She was Regent of the Netherlands from 1751 until her death in 1759, exercising extensive powers on behalf of her son William V. She was known as an Anglophile due to her English upbringing and family connections, but was unable to convince the Dutch Republic to enter the Seven Years' War on the side of the British.

Early life

Anne was born at Herrenhausen Palace, Hanover, five years before her paternal grandfather, Elector George Louis, succeeded to the British throne as George I. She was christened shortly after birth at Herrenhausen Palace. She was named after her paternal grandfather's second cousin Anne, Queen of Great Britain.

She learned German, French and English, and was taught music (including singing, harpsichord, and composition) by Georg Friedrich Händel. Händel did not like teaching, but said he would "make the only exception for Anne, flower of princesses". She remained a lifelong supporter, attending his operas and subscribing to his music.

She contracted and survived smallpox in 1720, and two years later her mother helped to popularise the practice of variolation (an early type of immunisation against smallpox), which had been witnessed by Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Charles Maitland in Constantinople. At the direction of Caroline, six prisoners condemned to death were offered the chance to undergo variolation instead of execution: they all survived, as did six orphan children given the same treatment as a further test. Convinced of its medical value, the Queen had her two younger daughters, Amelia and Caroline, inoculated successfully. Anne's face was scarred by the disease, and she was not considered as pretty as her two younger sisters.

On 30 August 1727, George II created his eldest daughter Princess Royal, a title which had fallen from use since its creation by Charles I for his daughter Mary, Princess of Orange in 1642.

Princess of Orange

A potential marriage contract between Anne and King Louis XV of France was eventually discarded when the French insisted that Anne convert to Roman Catholicism. On 25 March 1734 (New Style) in the Chapel Royal at St. James's Palace, she married William IV, Prince of Orange. She ceased to use her British style in favour of the title she gained by marriage. The music played on her wedding, This is the day was set by Handel to the princess's own words based on Psalms 45 and 118. Handel also composed an operatic entertainment, Parnasso in Festa, in honour of her wedding which was performed for the first time at the King's Theatre, London, on 13 March 1734, with great success.

William had a spinal deformity, which affected his appearance, but Anne said she would marry him even "if he were a baboon". The reason as to why she was insistent upon this marriage, was reportedly simply that she wished to be married, to avoid a life as a spinster at the court of her father and her brother (with whom she did not get along); and as the only match which was considered suitable for her was that of a Protestant monarch or heir to a throne, William was essentially her only remaining choice, and when questioned by her father, she stated that it was not a matter of whether she should marry William, the question was rather if she should marry at all. She quarreled with her brother, the Prince of Wales, about her choice.

William and Anne sailed to Holland after a honeymoon at Kew. In the Netherlands, they resided at Leeuwarden. Anne soon felt homesick when William went on campaign in the Rhineland, and she traveled back to England believing herself to be pregnant with the motivation that as her child would be in the succession to the British throne, it should be born in England. This caused a conflict with her spouse and father, who commanded her to return to Holland after a brief stay. By April 1735, it was clear she was not with child after all. In 1736, she did become pregnant, but the child (a daughter) was stillborn.

Anne was not popular in the Netherlands, and did not get along with her mother-in-law. She was perceived as haughty with her belief in British superiority over the Dutch, isolated herself with her interest in music and literature, and displayed lacking consideration for her courtiers, such as forcing her ladies-in-waiting to read for her for hours, ignoring their fatigue. Her relationship with William, however, which was first a distant one, eventually developed into harmony and confidence, which is displayed in their correspondence. In 1747, William became Stadtholder of the Netherlands, followed by a reform which made the post of hereditary.

William and Anne moved to the Hague, where Anne introduced Händel to the Netherlands: he accepted her invitation to her music life at the Hague in 1750.


When William IV died 2 October 1751 at the age of 40, Anne was appointed regent for her 3-year-old son, Prince William V. She was given all prerogatives normally given a hereditary Stadtholder of the Netherlands, with the exception of the military duties of the office, which was entrusted to Duke Louis Ernest of Brunswick-Lüneburg. She was hard-working, but arrogant and imperious, which made her unpopular. The 1750s were years of increasing tension and commercial rivalry between Holland and Britain, which placed her in a difficult position.

Her interior policy focused on defending the authority of the central hereditary Stadtholder government over the traditional rights of the Dutch states. The reform of the hereditary Stadtholder post had been introduced during the reign of her spouse; it was new and controversial and questioned after his death, but Anne effectively defended the centralized government. In the conflict with the city of Haarlem, for example, she prevented them from holding their election by refusing the release of their list of candidates. Her harsh rule was resented, but her consolidation policy effectively secured the new hereditary Stadtholder rule in the Netherlands.

In her foreign policy, Anne favored the British-German alliance before the French, a policy which was not popular in the Netherlands, and her fortification of the southern provinces against the French Netherlands was met with great opposition.

Anne continued to act as regent until her death from dropsy in 1759, at The Hague, Netherlands, when she was replaced by her mother-in-law, Marie Louise of Hesse-Kassel, who was assisted by Duke Louis Ernest of Brunswick-Lüneburg. When she too died in 1765, Anne's daughter, Carolina, was made regent until William V turned 18 in 1766.


The princess took drawing and painting lessons from Herman van der Mijn and made a self-portrait in 1740 that is in the collection of the House of Orange-Nassau Historic Collections Trust. She also made a portrait of Van der Mijn himself while he was at work making portraits of other family members.


Princess Anne, Maryland is named for her.


On 31 January 1719, as a grandchild of the sovereign, Anne was granted use of the arms of the realm, differenced by a label argent of five points, each bearing a cross gules. On 30 August 1727, as a child of the sovereign, Anne's difference changed to a label argent of three points, each bearing a cross gules.


Name Birth Death Notes
Carolina, Princess-Regent of Friesland 28 February 1743 6 May 1787 married 1760, Karl Christian of Nassau-Weilburg; had issue
Anna 15 November 1746 29 December 1746
Willem V Batavus 8 March 1748 9 April 1806 married, 1767, Princess Wilhelmina of Prussia; had issue


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