Winston Churchill Wanted to Know Who Queen Anne’s “Favourite” Was, Too

The battle for the Queen's favor between Sarah and Abigail from acclaimed movie "The Favourite" is mostly historically accurate.

Just like director Yorgos Lanthimos, the man behind this year’s acclaimed film The Favourite, Winston Churchill once told the same story of cunning and obsession surrounding three powerful women.

The late British prime minister covered the historical drama in a massive biography of his ancestor, John Churchill — the husband of Queen Anne’s (played by Olivia Colman in the movie) trusted advisor Sarah Churchill (played by Rachel Weisz). In that book, Churchill described the battle for the queen’s favor between Sarah and her relative, Abigail (Emma Stone), as a hinge event in history, CNN reported.

As depicted in the film, Queen Anne reigned while suffering from a number of physical and emotional ailments; having lost all 18 of her children to various causes at differing stages in their young lives.

But in his book, Churchill focused on the military and political matters in the life of his ancestor, the Duke of Marlborough. There are, as CNN points out, however, fascinating intersections between Churchill’s text and Lanthimos’ film, but the central movie premise — one that focused on a physical love between the Queen and her mistresses — is still up for debate.

In setting out to write his book about the Duke, Churchill documents how Sarah, the Duchess of Marlborough, became a fierce political player in her own right, rising to great heights of influence during the Queen’s reign. And it was her own doing that brought Abigail Hill (later Masham) into the fold.

At first, Sarah pushed Abigail forward to play a larger role in the court, in part due to the strain of answering to the many whims of the “tetchy” queen. And Abigail “faithfully and tenderly waited upon the Queen in her daily life and frequent illnesses. To beguile the long hours, she played with skill the harpsichord, greatly to the Queen’s enjoyment,” Winston Churchill wrote.

Perhaps even more important, “she always said what her mistress liked to hear.” And, before long, Sarah had the sinking feeling that she was in danger of losing her favored position to Abigail — the dynamic that is both the central plot of the film and a development of importance in Churchill’s book.

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