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Born: January 30, 1974
Norwich, Norfolk, England, UK
Born: February 6, 1665
Birthplace: St James's Palace, Westminster, England
Death: August 1, 1714, Kensington Palace, England (stroke)
Image: Portrait by Michael Dahl, 1705
Born: March 7, 1970
Westminster, London, England, UK
Sarah Churchill, Duchess of Marlborough
Born: June 5, 1660
Birthplace: St Albans, England
Death: October 18, 1744, Marlborough House, England
Image: Portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller, 1702
Born: November 6, 1988
Scottsdale, Arizona, USA
Born: c. 1670
Birthplace: London, England
Death: December 6, 1734, England
Image: Portrait by Unknown Artist, c. 1700
Born: December 7, 1989
Wokingham, Berkshire, England, UK
Born: December 5, 1661
Birthplace: Covent Garden, England
Death: May 21, 1724, Westminster, England
Born: October 17, 1966
Sedgefield, England, UK
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough
Born: May 26, 1650
Birthplace: Ashe House, England
Death: June 16, 1722, Windsor Lodge, England (stroke)
Image: Portrait by Sir Godfrey Kneller, c. 1702
The Favourite true story reveals that Anne Stuart became Queen of England, Scotland and Ireland following the death of King William III in 1702. William's wife (who was also his first cousin), Queen Mary II, had died eight years earlier in 1694. William and Mary were not Anne's parents. Anne's father, King James II, had been removed from the throne in 1688 by William of Orange, his son-in-law, during the Glorious Revolution.
King James II was deposed on religious grounds. He had been previously converted to Catholicism by his wife, Anne's mother. After her mother's death, James married the catholic princess Mary of Modena and they bore a son, James. This changed the line of succession from Jame's daughter Mary, a protestant, to his newly born son, a catholic. The protestants of England saw this as a threat that would inevitably lead to the formation of a Roman Catholic dynasty across the kingdoms. Anne defied her father and took the protestant side of William and her sister, Mary. Upon his removal, James fled to France with his wife and son, and William and Mary ascended to the throne. Anne was next in line.
Yes, and tragically, 12 of the 17 times she was pregnant she either miscarried or had stillborn births. Of her five children who survived birth, four died before their second birthday and her only remaining child, Prince William, Duke of Gloucester, died in 1700 at age 11. -Mirror Online
No. The real Queen Anne didn't keep 17 pet rabbits as stand-ins for the children she lost due to miscarriages, still births and premature death. The movie's historical consultant, Hannah Greig, has admitted this is fiction, stating, "Pet rabbits would never have been found lolloping around a royal bedchamber: They were an early 18th-century foodstuff and pest." -History Extra
Anne met Sarah Churchill (née Jennings) in the court of Anne's uncle, King Charles II, when she was around the age of 8 and Sarah was 13 (Vanity Fair). Sarah's father had been friends with Anne's father, James II, when he was still Duke of York. Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, was maid of honor to Jame's second wife, Mary of Modena. Not long after, Sarah became close friends with Anne in 1675.
They remained close and Sarah became Lady of the Bedchamber when Anne married Prince George of Denmark in 1683. After Anne's ascension to the throne in 1702, their friendship deepened and Lady Sarah was made Mistress of the Robes (the top rank for a woman in the royal court), Keeper of the Privy Purse, Groom of the Stole, and Ranger of Windsor Great Park. By that time, the pair had long referred to each other by pet names. Sarah was "Mrs. Freeman" and Anne "Mrs. Morley".
Yes. The Favourite true story confirms that not only did the attractive Sarah control Queen Anne's finances and circle of friends, she had a reputation for being brutally honest with Anne. Sarah's advice was sought regarding everything. This may have been in part due to the fact that Anne's education was "astonishingly inadequate", according to one biographer. Anne was also shy and found impromptu conversation a challenge, unlike the more outspoken and intelligent Lady Sarah (It was even said that when Anne found herself out of her element in a conversation, she would sometimes move her lips and pretend to continue speaking). It is believed that Sarah largely used her friendship with Anne for personal gain more than anything else. She once commented that she'd rather be "in a dungeon" than in a conversation with the tedious royal. -Vanity Fair
Queen Anne's reign was marked by three major developments: the establishment of a two-party Parliamentary system, England's role in the War of the Spanish Succession, and the 1707 Act of Union which unified England and Scotland as one kingdom under the name "Great Britain". The last development is not depicted in the movie.
No. Our fact-check of The Favourite movie revealed that costume designer Sandy Powell's stunning outfits are not typical of the era. In the film, the leading ladies wear monochrome popping with vivid patterns and African-inspired prints. Court servants are dressed in recycled denim. It's not accurate historically and is symbolic of the film's tendency to paint outside the lines when it comes to the truth. "Some of the things in the film are accurate and a lot aren't," director Yorgos Lanthimos told The Hollywood Reporter.
Yes. Born Abigail Hill, her family had gone broke because of her father's gambling. Sarah likely helped her get a job in the Queen's service more out of embarrassment than the goodness of her heart. -Vulture
No, this is highly unlikely. While there have been rumors of sexual relationships between both Queen Anne and Lady Sarah, and Queen Anne and Abigail Hill, most historians and biographers reject this notion. The movie uses the fictionalized love triangle to heighten the drama and add another dimension to the rivalry between Anne and Sarah. It also omits Anne's husband, Prince George of Denmark, with whom she had a prolific sexual history that resulted in 17 pregnancies, which are noted in the movie. Biographers cite that Anne was a woman with a strong sense of Christian morality who was devoted to her husband. She shared a room with him and did not ever leave his bed in all his years of dwindling health. Thus, it would have been logistically very difficult for Anne to carry on extramarital affairs.
Sarah (aka the Duchess of Marlborough) realized she was no longer Queen Anne's favourite in 1707 after she learned that Abigail had married Samuel Masham, a groom in the bedchamber of Anne's husband. The once-destitute Abigail had become Lady Masham. Sarah was furious over Anne and Abigail's closeness, and became more upset after she learned that the Queen had attended her chambermaid's wedding and gave the couple a dowry of £2000 paid from the Privy Purse, which Sarah managed. -Mirror Online
Yes. In researching The Favourite true story, we learned that Sarah threatened to blackmail Anne by exposing the most provocative of Anne's letters to her. They included excerpts like, "I hope I shall get a moment or two to be with my dear…that I may have one embrace, which I long for more than I can express," and "I can't go to bed without seeing you…If you knew in what condition you have made me, I am sure you would pity." Though it would be uncommon for two straight women to exchange such letters today, deeply affectionate language between friends of the same sex wasn't uncommon in that era. Such friendships between women were typically referred to as "romantic friendships."
Yes, but it was attempted more for political reasons than personal ones. Sarah, who had aligned herself with the Whigs, wanted to remove Abigail and her Tory sympathies from the court, knowing they would influence Queen Anne. Sarah treated Anne's emotional defense of her chambermaid Abigail as an indication of a lesbian affair, which made Anne even more upset. Sarah hoped the rumors she was spreading would cause the Queen to remove Abigail from her service, realizing that it threatened her reputation. It instead did the opposite and led to Sarah's falling out with Anne. When asked what ended their friendship, the Queen would later say that the main reason was Sarah "saying shocking things" about her and to her. -Vulture
No. In exploring The Favourite true story, we discovered that the rivalry did not reach the life and death stakes seen in the movie. Much of the rivalry was born out of the fact that Sarah and Abigail opposed each others politics. As Abigail wielded more influence over Queen Anne, she started urging the Queen to embrace her natural Tory inclinations. The Whig-minded Sarah saw Abigail as a threat to the political agenda of the Whig Party.
No. A fact-check of The Favourite movie reveals that this is fiction. There is no historical evidence to suggest that Abigail poisoned Sarah. -Vulture
Yes. When the War of the Spanish Succession (largely seen as a Whig project) fell out of favor with the British public, the Whigs in turn lost the election of 1710, which we see in the movie. Queen Anne dismissed Sarah's husband, the Duke of Marlborough, on trumped-up embezzlement charges. This was at a time when the Whigs were losing influence and the Tories were gaining more control. As Whig supporters, Sarah and her husband were a point of contention for the Tory-minded Queen.
Sarah's final encounter with Queen Anne took place in 1710 when Sarah attempted to mend their ailing friendship. According to Sarah's accounts of the meeting, Anne coldly cast her off. Sarah responded by telling Anne that God would judge her for the way that she had treated her. Sarah knew that attacking Anne on a religious level would upset her, which it did.
In 1711, the Queen stripped Sarah of her roles in the royal court. Abigail, who had become Baroness Masham, replaced Sarah as Keeper of the Privy Purse. Public funding for Blenheim Palace, the Queen's gift to Sarah and her husband following his victories in the War of the Spanish Succession, was halted. They left England for the courts of Europe, where Sarah's husband found success. She, however, mourned the position she had lost. -Mirror Online
After Sarah was removed from the royal court, Abigail took her place. Anne was more cautious with Abigail, not wanting to be domineered as she had been with Sarah. She didn't want to elevate Abigail's status too much, for fear that Abigail would leave her.
Upon Anne's death from a stroke on August 1, 1714, Abigail Masham and her husband Samuel were evicted from their palace homes. Abigail left the court and retired into private life. Samuel purchased a manor house not far from Windsor. They were by no means poor. Abigail lived in their country house until her own passing in 1734. -Vanity Fair
Yes. Lady Sarah Churchill's lineage guaranteed an enduring foothold in British politics. Her most famous descendant is Winston Churchill, who helped to save Britain from the hands of the Nazis during World War II. Sarah is also related to Lady Diana Spencer (Princess Diana) through her daughter, Anne Churchill, whose married name was Spencer.
Watch our episode below that fact-checks The Favourite for historical accuracy. Then watch our video explaining the significance of the bunnies, and finally, check out the movie's trailer.