Princess Anne of Orange and George II’s Daughter

Princess Anne who was Princess Royal and who became the Princess of Orange, was also the eldest daughter of King George II. She was born on 2 November 1709, and practically from the moment she was born displayed an “imperious temper.” As a child she was also forthright and remarkably proud of her position as royalty. In fact, one day she expressed her wish to not have brothers because she wanted to become Queen one day. Her mother taken aback, reproved her, but it didn’t dissuade her from her feelings on the matter and she exclaimed, “I would die to-morrow, to be queen to-day!”[1]

Anne, Princess of Orange, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Anne, Princess of Orange. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

When Princess Anne was still a girl, her grandfather, George I, and her father, King George II, had a disagreement that caused George I to seize George II’s daughters – the Princesses Anne, Caroline, and Amelia Sophia – and he detained them as national property. However, George II inherited them when his father died. Under George I the girls were educated in the way he thought fit. Of the three girls, George I liked Princess Anne best, and, supposedly, this relationship caused her to behave even more haughtily and imperiously than she had before, and it also created strife between her and her father.

Anne with her Sisters, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Anne with her sisters. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Princess Anne contracted smallpox in 1720. Two years later her mother learned that Lady Mary Wortley Montagu and Charles Maitland had witnessed an early type of smallpox immunization in Constantinople known as variolation. She then popularized variolation by offering six condemned prisoners the chance to undergo it instead of execution. All survived. The Queen then had her two younger daughters, Amelia Sophia and Caroline, immunized against the disease. As to Anne, her face was scarred by smallpox and she was therefore considered less pretty than her younger sisters.

Five years later when Princess Anne was 16, a proposal from the French King Louis XV for the Duke of Bourbon was presented to her. It was refused because she would be forced to change her religion. Thereafter, it seemed as if she would never marry, and, in fact, it took some time before another proposal came her way. The second proposal occurred when she was 24 and came through the House of Orange from the intelligent and industrious future William IV.

Louis XV at Versailles by Louis Michel van Loo, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Louis XV at Versailles by Louis Michel van Loo. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Not everyone was happy about the proposal. The King was aware that the Prince of Orange suffered deformities and warned his daughter “of the hideous ugliness of her intended bridegroom.”[2] Her mother also told her she could refuse the offer if she was inclined. As the Princess was worried about being a spinster, and because the Prince of Orange belonged to a high and mighty class of reigning princes, her reply was “that she would marry him if he were a baboon. ‘Well, then,’ said her father, ‘there is baboon enough for you.'”[3]

The baboon groom arrived in England in November of 1733. After his arrival, it was reported:

“[The] Queen shed abundance of tears at the sight of the bridegroom, and yet could not help sometimes bursting into a fit of laughter at his oddity and ugliness.”[4]

William IV, Prince of Orange, Courtesy of Wikipedia

William IV, Prince of Orange. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

The Prince of Wales was opposed to the nuptials and he barely participated. Moreover, supposedly, someone in the royal family declared him a “monster.” If the bride thought so she did not flinch and dealt with his strange appearance with composure and dignity. However, despite her behavior she was not fated to immediately marry the deformed Hollander Prince because promptly after he arrived in Greenwich and took up residence at the Somerset House, he fell deathly ill and prayers were requested that he might recover. Of his perilous situation English politician Sir Thomas Robinson wrote to Lord Carlisle on 17 November of 1733 stating:

“The conversation of the town runs entirely upon the Prince of Orange’s illness, who has been thought to be in great danger and not yet clear from it. He was ill when he left Holland, but his eager desire to hasten his approaching happiness made him venture on board the yacht sooner than he ought to have done, and being very sick at sea, living in a continued hurry of company after his landing, has made him relapse, and well disposed people still fear the consequence.”[5]

The fear that the Prince might die remained for a time and thus his marriage to Princess Anne was postponed. It took months for him to recover and in fact, the wedding did not occur until 24 March 1734. Details related to the nuptials were then published in the Newcastle Courant:

“About Six o’Cloc in the Evening his Highness the Prince of Orange went from Somerset-House in his Majesty’s Body Coach, drawn by six of his Dun Horses, adorned with Orange-coloured Ribbons, and attended therein by Sir Clement Cottrell, Knight, Master of the Ceremonies, and the Baron D’Aylva his Highnesses Master of the Horse, preceded by two leading Coaches, drawn by six Horses belonging to their Majesties, in which were his Highnes’s Domestics; and followed by the Body Coaches of her Majesty, the Prince of Wales, his Highness the Duke, and the Princess-Royal, each drawn by six Horses, and all adorned with Orange-coloured Ribbons; the Footmen and Helpers belonging to their Majesties, the Prince of Wales, the Duke and the Princess-Royal, attending at the same time in their Liveries, and walking before the Coaches. The Streets were very much crowded, which occasioned his Highness to be near an Hour before he got to St. James’s. His Highness was dres’d in a very rich Suit embroider’d with Gold, and Diamond Buttons, and his Collar of SS. as Knight of the most Noble Order of the Garter.

About 7-o’Cloc in the Evening the Bridegroom, and all those who were to attend his Highness in the Procession, met in the Council Chamber at St. James’s, as did the Bride with her Attendants in the great Drawing-Room, and their Majesties and the Nobility in the King’s own Apartment. … When his Highness came into the Chapel, he was led to the Stool prepared for him … the Procession of her Royal Highness the Princess Royal … immediately after began. … The Bride, in her Virgin Robes of Silver Tissue, having a Train Six Yards long, laid round with … Lace, adorn’d with Fringe and Tassels; on the Sleeves were several Bars of Diamonds … the Habit was likewise enrich’d with … Rows of Oriental Pearl. … In her Hair [was] … the Coronet of Princess Royal of England. Her Train supported by six Dukes and Earls Daughters … all of whom were dress’d in white, and according to their Degrees walk’d nearest the Bride. … Her Royal Highness upon entering the Chapel was conducted to a Stool place for her. … his Highness the Prince of Orange led the Princess Royal to the Rails of the Altar, and kneel’d down, and the the Lord Bishop of London perform’d the Service, after which the Bride and Bridegroom arose and retir’d to their Places, while a fine Anthem … was perform’d.”[6]

After the wedding, various celebrations were given in honor of the newlyweds with a mention made beforehand by the Ipswich Journal:

“Thursday next being the Day appointed for the Royal Marriage between the Prince of Orange and the Princess Royal, there will be curious Fire-works played off in Old Palace-Yard, the Reverend Dr. Defaguliers, being Engineer. There will be a Pyramid illuminated, of 36 Feet high, on a Pedstall, whereon the following Letters, W.A.P.P.O. upon the Top will be a large Globe on a Cap of Maintenance representing Glory, with the Motto, L I B E R T Y. At the same Time will be play’d off above 300 Sky-Rockets, Line Rockets, and Wheel Rockets, &c.”[7]

The newlyweds made an extremely odd-looking couple. One historian described them as a “serio-comic exhibition.” The pox-marked princess was squat, fat, and shapeless, and the bridegroom, who also emitted an unpleasant odor, was misshapen and deformed with long flowing hair that hid the roundness of his back. Later that day when the ancient custom of receiving guests was still in force and guests greeted the newlyweds, observers said of the groom’s overall shape that when he sat in bed, if someone was behind him, he appeared to have no head and when seen from the front he appeared to have no neck and be legless.

Princess Anne and William IV of Orange. Courtesy of the New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Despite how odd the couple looked to others, both the Princess and Princess seemed satisfied with the match and happy with each another. The Princess reportedly was tender and affectionate towards her husband, and he reciprocated by being steady and honest. Their happy union also resulted in them bearing and successfully raising three children — the Princess Carolina, the Princess Anna, and William V, Prince of Orange.

In 1751, about four years after becoming William IV, he died. Princess Anne’s father sent a kind condolence note and some friendly advice to his daughter. Apparently, however, Princess Anne received it haughtily and in return offended and insulted him. Her reasons for treating her father so poorly appear to be related to the death of her mother in 1737. At that time, the Princess arrived in London only to find that her father refused to let her stay more than two nights. He believed she was not there to mourn but had an ulterior motive and claimed that she wanted to influence him and replace her mother. He sent his daughter first to Bath, the spot that years later would become home to novelist Jane Austen, and then he sent her back to Holland. Princess Anne was thoroughly offended by his actions that she perceived to be unkind.

After William IV died, his 3-year-old son, William V, became ruler, but because of his tender age he required a regent. This job soon fell to Princess Anne. Although she was capable in the role, she came across as arrogant, haughty, and imperious. This made her as unpopular as her husband had been popular.

She acted in her role as regent until the day she died, which happened about two years before Madame Tussaud and Eliza de Feuillide were born. Princess Anne died from edema, known then as dropsy, on 12 January 1759 and was buried next to her husband at Delft. The Leeds Intelligencer provided the following particulars:

“At the Hauge, her Royal Highness the Princess of Orange, Gouvernante of the United Provinces, his Majesty’s eldest Daughter, the 12th Instant, at eleven o’Clock at Night, aged 49 Years, 2 Months, and 10 Days, being born the 2nd of November 1709. … Her Children, have lost a most tender Mother; the Persons of her Court, a mild and grateful Mistress; the Poor, a liberal Benefactor, and the Religion, a Model of Piety and Virtue. She preserved, ’till the last, an admirable Presence of Mind, Calmness, and Magnanimity. She possess the happy Secret to make herself universally beloved by all Ranks of People; so that her Death is not only regretted by her Family and Friends, but by all good Patriots. A little before she expired, she sent for the Prince and Princess her Children, embraced them with the utmost Tenderness; told them she was going to leave them forever; but she hoped God would protect them. Then took her Leave of them in the most moving Manner.”[8]

William V in 1768, Courtesy of Wikipedia

William V in 1768. Courtesy of Wikipedia.


  • [1] Walpole, Horace, Memoirs of the Reign of King George the Second, 1847, p. 208.
  • [2] The Georgian Era, 1832, p. 53.
  • [3] McCarthy, Justin Huntly, A History of the Four Georges, 1890, p. 54.
  • [4] Ibid. p. 55.
  • [5] Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts, Reports, Part 6, 1897, p. 124.
  • [6] “London, March 16,” in Newcastle Courant, 23 March 1734, p. 1-2.
  • [7] –, in Ipswich Journal, 9 March 1734, p. 3.
  • [8] “Died,” in Leeds Intelligencer, 30 January 1759, p. 3. 

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