Anne Hyde was born on March 12th, 1637, as the first daughter of the Earl of Clarendon and his second wife. During the English Civil War, King Charles I was overthrown, and his son and the royals’ supporters fled into exile in the Netherlands, where the Princess of Orange, the daughter of Charles I, offered them protection.
Anne was appointed a maid of honor to the Princess. Many fell in love with Anne as she grew into a very pleasant and pretty woman. She herself liked Henry Jermyn but cast him aside when she met James, Duke of York, the brother and heir of the new king-in-exile, Charles II. The Princess of Orange was enraged by this relationship and the fact that her brother later allowed them to marry.
Anne soon became pregnant, and James promised to marry her. Anne’s own father was one of the many who opposed the match, but after the monarchy was restored, James got his way and the two married in a private ceremony at Worcester House. James and Anne had eight children, though only two daughters, Mary and Anne, survived to adulthood. Both would become Queens-Regnant of England.
The Duke and Duchess of York loved their children dearly. James had numerous mistresses and illegitimate children, but he and Anne were still very happy together. Anne’s brother-in-law, the king, was fond of her, but not many others were. She was described as having “courage, cleverness, and energy almost worthy of a King’s blood” but also described as “not only the proudest woman in the world, but the most expensefull.”
Anne and James both converted to Catholicism, which the king allowed, but he still insisted that their two surviving daughters be brought up Protestant. Anne, who had been ill with breast cancer, died on March 31st, 1671, at the age of thirty-four. James remarried to Mary of Modena and became King James II. He was a Catholic, which made him unpopular, but people could at least look forward to his Protestant daughter’s rule.
Once Mary of Modena gave birth to a Catholic son and heir, England was done with him. Parliament invited James’s daughter Mary and her husband to depose James and take the throne for themselves. Mary II was succeeded by her younger sister, Anne. And so, Anne Hyde, a commander, became the mother of two queens-regnant, though she never became Queen herself.