Abigail Masham emma stone Entertainment Film and TV News olivia colman Queen Anne Rachel Weisz Sarah Churchill the favourite UK

The true story behind Queen Anne’s lesbian affairs in Oscar-tipped movie · PinkNews

The true story behind Queen Anne's lesbian affairs in Oscar-tipped movie · PinkNews

Period comedy-drama The Favorite has already dominated the BAFTAs and it’s acquired 10 nominations for the Oscars on Sunday (February 24). However, as the UK marks LGBT History Month, how practical are the lesbian affairs depicted in the movie?

What is the true, real-life story of Queen Anne and has The Favorite prioritised reality over fiction? We discover what historians have stated concerning the period.

Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, The Favorite follows the reign of Queen Anne (Olivia Colman) when England is at struggle with France in the early 18th century. It portrays two cousins, the Duchess of Marlborough, Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz), and Abigail Masham (Emma Stone), who battle it out to be courtroom favourites of Queen Anne, together with their salacious lesbian affairs with the monarch.

Historic accuracies of The Favourite debated by historians

The historic accuracy of the film, which has already bagged seven BAFTA awards, together with greatest actress for Colman, has been hotly debated—from middle-aged mother and father discussing the lesbian romps in Aga-heated kitchens in southern England, to millenials frantically Googling the “historical accuracy of The Favourite” after watching it that afternoon in their native cinema.

So, how a lot of the 2019 Oscar-nominated movie The Favorite is real? In response to historian Ophelia Area, writer of the Sarah Churchill biography The Favorite, which recounts the historic story behind the current film, Queen Anne’s letters to Woman Churchill have been, indeed, of a romantic nature.

Area, whose biography of Churchill was first revealed in 2002, before being updated to coincide with the release of the movie, says she began researching Queen Anne’s letters written from the 1680s onwards, and “was struck by the fact that they were love letters.”

Queen Anne’s actual life letters to Woman Churchill have been romantic

Area explains that she then did some studying around the matter to “try to contextualise how freakish or how typical these were for the period,” solely to discover that the Restoration courtroom—masking the interval roughly from the return of the monarchy underneath Charles II in 1660 until the demise of Queen Anne in 1714—was characterised by robust feminine friendships, which may have been sexual.

“What became clear was that in the Restoration court in which Anne and Sarah grew up—which was a sexually decadent place, though that’s usually been thought about more in a heterosexual way—there was a sort of mini-culture of very passionate relationships between the young maids of honour,” explains Subject.

Emma Stone together with her co-stars in the Oscar nominated lesbian film, which upends interval drama stereotypes (Gareth Cattermole/Getty)

Subject provides that Queen Anne’s letters to the Duchess of Marlborough need to be learn “in the context of how she obviously absorbed this romantic same-sex culture of the Restoration court.” The historian goes on to spotlight a number of ladies who she believes have been concerned in romanticising one another, together with Francis Aspley, with whom, she says, Queen Anne’s older sister Princess Mary—later Queen Mary II of England—was “really in love.”

The educational reads aloud one letter from Princess Mary to Apsley, who she calls her “husband,” in which the royal says she longs to “kiss the ground on when once you go, to be your dog on a string.”

“It’s not implausible to imagine that there’s some physical expression within all of this, and the intensity is certainly much closer to our modern ideas of sexual love than to our modern ideas of friendship.”

—Ophelia Subject

Still, Area is fast to confess, we will never know for sure whether or not the same-sex want outlined in these letters was acted upon physically, as is usually recommended in the film.
“Whether any of these relationships were physically consummated is a whole other question—and one that we will never have a concrete answer to,” explains Area.

She highlights one moment in the movie where Churchill sends a furious letter to Anne, effectively threatening to “out” her in response to her relationship with Baroness Masham, which is predicated on an actual letter. For Area, the contents of this letter present that Churchill “fully knows that the reputational threat to Anne is the accusation of lesbianism, even if they didn’t have the word lesbian.”

We’ll never have a “concrete answer” over The Favorite‘s lesbian affairs, says historian Ophelia Subject

But Area explains that she is incessantly annoyed by sure teachers who declare that such bodily lesbian affairs might never have occurred. “The position I take is impatience with certain male historians who infantilize the women and talk as if these letters are only between very young girls,” she provides. “Earlier biographers couldn’t even think about the likelihood that anything was felt erotically, if not acted upon.

“I think it’s not implausible to imagine that there’s some physical expression within all of this, and the intensity is certainly much closer to our modern ideas of sexual love than to our modern ideas of friendship.”

Olivia Colman (left) and Emma Stone starring in The Favourite, which has ten Oscar nominations, as Queen Anne and Abigail Masham respectively. (Twentieth Century Fox)

Other teachers, nevertheless, keep a more sceptical view over whether Queen Anne’s relationships with Churchill and Masham amounted to anything more than passionate friendship.

Historian Anne Somerset, writer of biography Queen Anne: The Politics of Passion, says that, while the movie “takes it as a complete given that Queen Anne had active lesbian relationships with the Duchess of Marlborough and Abigail,” she believes that it’s “certainly not as straightforward as that.”

For Somerset, the question of whether or not Queen Anne truly had sexual relationships with the two ladies is “very complicated.”

The Favourite: Queen Anne’s husband was “written out of existence,” says educational Anne Somerset

Like Area, Somerset acknowledges that there was a “cult of female friendship” throughout this period in the Restoration courtroom, noting that this has led some to wonder if Queen Anne’s relationship with Churchill notably was “more than friendship,” given the letters exchanged between them.

Nevertheless, Somerset argues that each Anne and Churchill’s relationships with their husbands—and Anne’s 17 pregnancies—are somewhat sidelined in the film. Relating to Anne, Somerset says that her relationship together with her husband George of Denmark, who died in 1708, was “just conveniently written out of existence” in The Favourite.

“Maybe I’m very naive, but I actually don’t really believe that Anne and Sarah had a lesbian relationship.”

—Anne Somerset

Somerset stresses that there’s “every sign that she was absolutely devoted to him,” adding that Anne was “totally devastated” when her husband died.” Churchill, she believes, had a “very passionate marriage with her husband, too.”

“Maybe I’m very naive, but I actually don’t really believe that Anne and Sarah had a lesbian relationship,” she says, adding: “I personally think that [Anne] wasn’t a lesbian.”

Somerset does acknowledge that there was a component of rigidity between Churchill and Anne when Masham arrived on the scene, which is depicted as an intense love triangle in The Favourite. But, she says, Queen Anne had a “completely different” relationship with Masham, which she suggests was more formal as a result of she addressed Masham using her surname.

General, Somerset believes that the movie has helped set off a heightened interest in Queen Anne’s reign, which may not have happened in any other case. And, though the historian takes difficulty with the film’s portrayal of Anne as “very monstrous”—claiming she “was a totally mannered woman”—she provides: “Apart from that, I keep telling myself that it’s all a good thing.”

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