Published date: 4 September 2014

Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough, impatient with courtly ritual, gave Queen Anne grudging praise for her knowledge of protocol: ‘She has the greatest memory that ever was, especially for such things as are all forms, & ceremonys, giving people their due Ranks at Processions & their proper Places at Balls, & having the right order at Installments & funerals.’

The detailed records of court rituals held by The National Archives – including papers related to Anne’s coronation, the state visit she hosted for ‘Charles III’ of Spain, the funeral of Prince George, and her own funeral – attest to her close attention to courtly propriety. This talk explains that her motives for insisting on proper rituals were not merely personal and nostalgic but shrewdly political and diplomatic.

James A Winn is William Fairfield Warren Professor of English at Boston University. His books include Unsuspected Eloquence (1981), a history of the relations between poetry and music; John Dryden and His World (1987), a prize-winning biography; and The Poetry of War (2008).

There is a small degree of interference in the audio quality of this live recording.

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