April 23, 1802.
Anne had hoped that it would be a pain free day. The lord knew that she had important tasks to perform and yet fate didn’t seem to be on her side.
She woke early, just as the grey light of dawn was climbing up the horizon and towards the heavens. Today was a momentus day. Anne Stuart sat up in bed, knowing just how important this day was. Her brother in law was dead, thank the lord. He had been a most innefectual king and the people had certainly not warmed to him. Anne could only hope that the people of England would warm better to her than they had to King William. The hatred certainly couldn’t grow any more pronounced.
She was nervous. Anne wondered whether her sister Mary had been nervous on her own coronation day. Mary had been everything that Anne had not been, and her marriage to William had increased his popularity ten fold. Mary had been charming, dutiful and every bit the perfect queen. But she was sure that for all her many perfections, Mary had been nervous on the day she became queen.
The pain was becoming unbearable. Cursing her ill luck, Anne reached out and rang the bell beside her bed. She would need a lot of assistance this day.
Anne Stuart’s coronation day was a day that encouraged reflection, and Anne was no acception to that rule. On days like this, Anne had time to think of the people she was proud to know and upon reflection, Anne thought of Sarah Churchill, a woman whom Anne was proud to be friends with. . Sarah had always held her dearest Anne in high regard and on that chaotic morning, Sarah breezed in, willing and able to sort everything out.
“Oh, do not worry my dearest,” Sarah chatted happily as she watched Anne’s servants dressing their queen into her beautiful coronation gown, “you will be a great queen. I know it.”
Anne giggled at her beloved’s words, nervous not one bit about the fact that the servants around them could hear every word they were saying. Everyone around them knew of the bond that existed between the two women and most of them didn’t take any notice of them any longer. “Oh Sarah,” she said happily, the pain obating slightly in the comfort of her friend’s company, “you do go on so. Do you really think I shall make a good queen?”
Sarah nodded with infatic certainty. “Indeed I do my dearest. I have no doubt that you will be an excellent queen.”
Anne allowed herself to look at her reflection in the mirror that one of her servants held up to her and frowned. She didn’t truly look the part of a soon to be anointed queen of Britain and her empires. She looked old, old and ugly. She sighed. Mary had been a beautiful woman. Anne was not and as she turned her head this way and that, she knew that she was not going to be the queen that Mary had been. Queens to be should be beautiful, should they not? Mary had been beautiful on her coronation day. Why was her own visage such an unpleasant one to behold.
“Oh Sarah,” Anne sighed, turning to address the golden haired beauty at her side, thinking that Sarah would make a much more presentable queen than she did, “how do I look, truly?”
Sarah appraised her friend’s face with her usual smile and spoke with her usual frank honesty. “Well, I cannot say that you are the most beautiful woman in the world, my dearest Anne, but you are certainly good enough for me.”
That made Anne laugh. Sarah’s honesty had always been a breath of fresh air for Anne Stuart, even in her darkest days and her darkest thoughts. Anne was unused to people around her being honest. Sarah though was totally unabashed and was not in auh of anybody, least of all her. Anne liked to the fact that Sarah thought that no matter how unattractive Anne appeared, she was always good enough for her. Anne supposed that at the end of the day, Sarah’s opinion was the only one that truly mattered.
“Are you ready, your majesty?” one of Anne’s attendants asked, “we should away to Westminster abbey at once for your coronation.”
Anne nodded. The pain had not yet subsided and she would have liked nothing more than to spend the day drinking tea and talking with Sarah. But the queen had a task to undergo. The people expected her to do her duty and she was going to do it.
Anne was carried to Westminster Abbey in an open chair, its low back covered with the long train of her gown, her servants carrying that train behind her as her barers carried their queen towards the place of her coronation. Anne could look at nobody but Sarah as she made that momentus journey. Sarah walked by her queen’s side as they made their way towards the Abbey, her hand clutching that of the queen as she prepared to stand at Anne’s side during her ceremony.
Sarah stood by Anne’s side as she was carried into the Abbey itself and even as the ceremony began, Sarah Churchill refused to move. She loved Anne dearly and though people scoffed and whispered unkind words about their friendship, Sarah did want nothing more than the best for her friend. As she looked on along with the rest of the congregation, the crown of Edward the Confessor was placed upon her queen’s head. As she watched Anne’s face with care, Sarah thought that she could see a flicker of confidence appear behind her eyes. Anne Stuart was a crowned queen now and Sarah suspected that Anne was becoming all-too aware of that fact. Sarah was proud of her dearest Anne, prouder than she ever had been before. She knew that Anne Stuart had been the heir to the throne since her sister Mary had been unable to bear a child, but even so, this day was an important occasion.
Sarah knew how difficult Anne’s life could be at times. The nearly constant illnesses, together with her seventeen failed pregnancies had taken a great tole upon the woman who had been her friend since Anne had been but ten years of age. Sarah knew that she would suffer further hardships and struggles, but Sarah would be by her side, as she had been since the two were little more than girls. Sarah Churchill had no idea how long Anne would be queen or how difficult that reign would be but she suspected that Anne would need her. Sarah knew how vulnerable Anne could be at times. Sarah had to protect her friend. She would protect her friend, now and forever. She would stand by her queen.
Sarah accompanied her crowned queen out of Westminster Abbey hours later, the two women leaving the darkness of the abbey and stepping out into the sunshine. Anne was still sitting in her chair and as they began the long walk back to the palace, Sarah walked at Anne’s side, holding her hand as she had done before.
“Oh I say Sarah,” Anne was saying in a voice of relief, “I am so glad that is over.”
“Here here,” Sarah agreed.
“I think that I fancy a spot of tea,” Anne said to her friend, voice low so that no one else around them could hear, “do you wish to accompany me?”
Sarah Churchill could only smile in reply. “You do not need to ask me twice,” she said happily, “I shall like nothing better.”
Anne smiled. She was glad that even though she was now the crowned monarch of England, she could still find time to enjoy herself. After all, what would a queen do if she was unable to find enjoyment in life. What would a queen do if she was unable to spend time with friends. Anne wasn’t willing to find out the answers to either of those questions. She was determind to have as good a time as possible, and she could think of no one else that she would rather have spent her time with.