King William III (reigned 1689-1702) Delftware dish, c1700

da328011_d02William of Orange was never popular and rumours of his alleged homosexuality were circulated by his opponents, particularly after the death of his wife, Queen Mary, in 1694. His preference for close male associates included two Dutch courtiers to whom he gave English titles and prestigious court roles, Hans Willem Bentinck and Arnold Joost Van Keppel.

Queen Anne (reigned 1702-1714) Delftware plaque, c1704 (loaned by Cuckfield Museum)

Anne succeeded to the throne on the death of her brother-in-law. When she became queen she rewarded her childhood friend Sarah Churchill with prestigious court offices. Rumours circulated that their relationship was more than platonic as Sarah gradually increased her influence over state affairs. In 1710 they had a bitter argument and never spoke again.