In our previous episode of this two-part companion for The Favorite we explored the lives of the real Queen Anne and Sarah Churchill – played by the fantastic Olivia Colman and Rachel Weisz in Yorgos Lanthimos's gloomy new movie. As you might expect, the script beautifies the actual events a bit, though the process has a surprising amount of truth. In Part Two, we explore Abigail Hill (played by Emma Stone), the alleged love triangle between the three women and the end result.
Abigail becomes  the favorite newcomer to the palace; Her once respected family has gone through hard times and is now working as a low servant. She meets Sarah for the first time when she makes the well-intentioned mistake of trying to soothe the queen's gout with a herb spoon she picked on the grounds of the castle. When Sarah discovers that Abigail is her cousin and the Queen's provisional gout ointment actually helped, she abducts Abigail for her own personal use.
The real Abigail referred not only to Sarah, but also to Robert Harley (pictured in the film by Nicholas Hoult), the spokesman for the House of Commons. She was the cousin of both; Abigail's mother was Sarah's aunt, and Sarah was Harley's second cousin, who was related by her father. Although Abigail and her family had fallen behind in the status of their father's gambling debts, the stories of their loss in a whist game and repeated rape by a "balloon-shaped German" were invented by screenwriters. Described in detail by Somerset and others, Abigail worked as a servant of Sir John Rivers of Kent when Sarah discovered what had become of this part of her family. Out of public embarrassment – not out of friendliness – Sarah decided to employ Abigail as her own servant for a while before positioning herself as Queen of the Queen Anne's bedroom.
In 1704, Anne was teased with Sarah, who – if she did not teach her queen and beloved girlfriend about politics – was increasingly absent in court. Anne turned to Abigail in Sarah's absence and began relying more and more on support and advice. As Edward Gregg writes in Marlborough in Exile the benevolent Abigail was anything the dull and domineering Sarah was not, and she offered Anne the kind of gentle compassion the Queen of Sarah had received – but never had. The Favorite receives most of this right, though many have doubts that Abigail, despite her secret marriage to Samuel Masham and the ensuing drama, was the manipulative type – which is broadly true, though Sarah did not find that about marriage until months later. When she went to Anne and told her about the wedding, the queen already knew because she was present at the ceremony. Anne claimed that she had asked Abigail to inform Sarah about the marriage. During this meeting in 1707, Sarah first learned about Abigail and Anne's growing intimacy, and the couple had been enjoying each other's company privately for some time.
In fact, Abigail used her position in favor of the Queen for her political advantage. She and Harley had similar political beliefs and Abigail helped her cousin get private access to the queen. This furious Sarah, who had used her own position for personal political gain, and her attempts to have Abigail dismissed, included hiring the Whig party to which she and her husband, the Duke of Marlborough, belonged.
Following Sarah's dismissal from the court, Abigail was named an insider tip, but unlike The Favorite s version of events, she did not undertake all of Sarah's previous duties or titles. While the historian Rachel Judith Weil details in Political Passions Queen Anne transferred one of her duties (along with that considerable key for her bedroom) to one of her favorites, Elizabeth Seymour, the Duchess of Somerset.
Illicit Trysts and Games of Whist
Although it may seem a bit too scandalous to be true, Sarah threatened to deliver intimate love letters she had sent to and received from the Queen. As Somerset writes in The Politics of Passion Sarah is quoted as saying, "Such things are in my power that if they could … lose a crown." Of the letters, Sarah once wrote, "Although Her Majesty makes sure that I like her less, I still do not find it in my heart to part with them … I have drawers everywhere I live Although the romantic nature of Sarah and Anne's relationship has long been a source of gossip and speculation, Somerset does not buy it.For one thing, she describes Anne as a woman responsible for her "prudery and her."
As Sarah happily spread rumors about the romantic relationship between Anne and Abigail, she exposed at the same time similar gossip stories about her nature-related relationship with Anne.Sarah, writes Somerset, believed that "Lesbianism was a disgusting vice "And far from being Anne's physical desire, she represented Anne's affection for herself as pure of her intellect Inspired by her sincere character. "
In  Political Passions Because details of how Sarah continued to feed the gaffer on Anne and Abigail's relationship. Anne was, as Sarah wrote in a letter, "exposed to the speech of all courts and countries, for something so wrong as to have such a fondness for a bedroom woman and to be so much governed by her." Sarah has always been careful to pretend Never blatantly accused Anne and Abigail of being involved in a lesbian relationship, though she implied so much in public and in private life.
Sarah's dismissal is portrayed as somewhat inconspicuous in the film, apart from the highly invented poisoning and the subsequent (but brief) brothel stay. After retiring to the estate with the Duke of Marlborough, Sarah is encouraged by the Earl of Godolphin to write an apology letter to the Queen to improve her broken relationship. Abigail intercepts the letter and throws it in the hearth so that her position – and her status as a lady – is not endangered. As a hedge, Abigail tells the queen how Sarah and her husband were skinned from the royal purse and led to their official banishment.
In reality, it was not just Sarah's gossip and outrage at Abigail that led to her release, but her behavior after the death of Anne's husband George. During the time of mourning, Sarah refused to wear suitable clothing for mourning, which made many feel that she did not respect Anne's grief – and did not consider her genuine. According to Green in his biography, Sarah also had a portrait of George removed from Anne's bedchamber and refused to return it because she thought it only appropriate for the mourners "to avoid seeing papers or anything belonging to one who belonged to them Loved when they loved it were just dead. "
As described by Ophelia Field in . The favorite: Sarah, Duchess of Marlborough met Sarah one last time with Anne in 1710, after which she asked her royal friend to explain why she had fallen into disfavor. After Sarah's own reminder of the meeting, Anne was "unperturbed" and responded only in cold, short sentences like "I will not answer anything you say" and "You can phrase it in writing." Sarah's husband, the Duke of Marlborough, asked the queen to leave them in their positions for a while, but Anne declined. As mentioned earlier, the titles and responsibilities of the Duchess of Marlborough were divided between Abigail (now Lady Masham) and the Duchess of Somerset, which made Sarah even more upset because Anne had promised to give her to her children.
Sarah and her husband traveled through Europe and were favorably treated for the victorious war effort of the Duke of Marlborough. Anne and Sarah have never reconciled, but after at least one rumor that Gregg set out in detail in Marlborough in Exile the Queen was once overheard as to whether the Marlboroughs had "reached the shore", which meant some, that she had invited her old friend back to England. This hearsay was never confirmed, but it is known that Sarah and her husband have returned to England the day of Anne's death. Anne died on August 1, 1714, two days after a stroke. Although Sarah never returned in favor of the Queen, she and her husband were fully restored under Anne's successor, King George I.
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