In the world of movies, everything is possible. It is possible to depict reality based on historical facts, it is possible to tell complete fiction, and it is equally possible to blend the two. The Favourite is a movie that married reality and fiction. Directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, this 2008 film is set at the beginning of the 18th century England when the country was at war with France. The physical and psychological unstable Queen Anne played by Olivia Coleman sits on the throne and her closest ally and confidante Lady Sarah Churchill played by Rachel Weiz wields power in her stead while she tends to the Queen’s deteriorating health condition and volatile temper.
The arrival of a new servant girl named Abigail Masham played by Emma Stone introduced conflict as the Queen becomes fond of her even though it is Lady Sarah that brought her in because of her charming attitude.
Dissecting The Facts And Fictions In The Favourite
The film is loosely based on the history of the reign of Queen Anne who ruled England from 1702 to 1714, but there are some historically inaccurate elements in the film that wasn’t exactly what happened in reality during her reign and time as Queen. Read on to know some of them which at the end would answer the question as to whether or not the film is historically accurate or not.
1. Queen Anne wasn’t really stupid
The movie gives the impression of the Queen as one who is weak, fragile and frail. This is seen in the way and manner her best friend and confidante Sarah Churchill with whom she has been having a toxic relationship, always belittled her. According to The Favourite, Sarah consistently sees her as nothing, to the point of making a fool of her and always manipulating her. Historically, this is not factual because the Queen wasn’t really the stupid, unknowledgeable woman the movie portrays her to be.
The majority of the accounts of the Queen’s reign is born out of the political hardship during her rule and how she is rated low. For instance, the country was involved in the Spanish Succession War which economically brought untold hardship on the people and led to a rift between the Whigs and the Tories in Parliament.
2. Queen Anne and her husband Prince George of Denmark were very close
The Queen’s husband, Prince George of Denmark was never seen in the movie. His absence helped in creating an environment for the Queen’s love triangle. Although it is well documented that he wasn’t really the active type, Queen Anne did love him very much and evidently shared a bed with him. He had no interest in politics and was only involved when the Queen seeks his counsel on a crucial subject; however, the closeness they share is documented.
Interestingly, it was his death that really made the relationship between Queen Anne and Sarah to go sour; because she refused to show respect by not wearing the mourning clothes and that hurt the Queen badly.
3. Queen Anne never kept 17 rabbits as pets as consolation for her 17 dead children
The Favourite portrays the Queen as having a strong connection with her 17 pet rabbits. This is seen in the scene where she tells Abigail about her 17 “babies” and how she sees them as an emotional replacement for her 17 children whom all died at one point or the other, though only one Prince William made it through childhood, but died at age 11.
In reality, there was nothing like rabbits in the account of the Queen’s life. During that time rabbits were seen as fluffy animals, considered as food or pests.
4. Abigail didn’t poison Sarah
The main reason for the movie is to highlight the tough rivalry and competition to remain in the good books of the Queen between Abigail Masham and Sarah Churchill. In the movie, Abigail plans to poison Sarah, so as to get her out of her way. This led to Sarah’s accident while riding a horse.
In actuality, the rivalry and competition between the two women never got to the level of physicality. It rather involved the use of strategies on their parts to win the Queen’s favor.
5. There is no historical evidence of any lesbian relationship between Queen Anne and the two women
The Favourite didn’t hesitate to show the level at which the Queen was consummating her sexual desires with two women. However, there is no historical evidence of such sexual relationships enjoyed by the queen, but it can’t be put out entirely as traces of such acts were never left in the open.
Finally, in the words of the director of the film, while some things in the film are accurate, a lot aren’t.