Before she married and became half of the William and Mary comonarchy, Jame’s II eldest daughter was a princess desperately in love-with another girl. She was Frances Apsley, the beautiful daughter of the king’s hawks keeper and nine years Mary’s senior. In her long string of passionate letters, the princess called Frances “Aurelia” and addressed her as “Husband.”
“You shall hear from me every quarter of an hour if it were possible,” Mary gushed in one letter, exclaiming in another that “all the paper books in the world would not hold half the love I have for you my dearest, dearest, dear Aurelia.” While missives like these were filled with the frothy language of a girlish crush, others made it clear that Mary knew how to get down and dirty. “There is nothing in this heart of breast, guts or bowels, but you shall know it,” she wrote, offering at one point to become Frances’s “louse in bosom.” Some of the letters were almost masochistic in their abasement: “[I am] your humble servant to kiss the ground where you go, to be your dog in a string, your fish in a net, your bird in a cage, your humble trout.”
After a while, Mary’s deluge of clingy love letters began to make Frances’s letters uncomfortable and she started to withdraw. As Frances’s letters became more and more infrequent and her manner increasingly distant, Mary went into a desperate Frenzy. “Oh have some pity on me and love me again or kill me quite with your unkindness for I cannot live with you in indifference, dear dearest loving kind charming obliging sweet dear Aurelia.” Subtle she was not.
Her desperation grew worse when she heard the news that she was to be married to her cold, asthmatic cousin, William of Orange, and sent to live with him in Holland. Mary wept non-stop for a day and a half, lamenting her fate and loss of her “dear dearest Aurelia.” Of course she eventually got over it, learning to love her wheezy mildly hunchbacked husband and helping him to usurp her father’s throne in 1688.
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