Anne was born in 1574, the second daughter of King Frederick II of Denmark and Sophie of Mecklenburg-Güstrow. Anne spent her early childhood with her maternal grandparents in Germany away from her father’s extravagant court where she had a frugal and stable environment. She returned to Denmark in 1579 with her older sister, Elizabeth, and her younger brother, the future Christian IV of Denmark. She had a happy upbringing in Denmark mostly due to her mother, who nursed all of her children through their illnesses herself.
Suitors from all over Europe sought the hand of Anne and her sister, including James VI of Scotland. By July 1589, Anne was betrothed to James and was reportedly thrilled about the match. The two were married by proxy in August and shortly thereafter Anne set sail for Scotland. Anne formally married James in November. She was crowned in May 1590 in a seven hour ceremony in the Abbey Church at Holyrood, the first Protestant coronation in Scotland.
The two at first were happy together but they soon found themselves at odds. From the beginning of the marriage, Anne was under pressure to produce an heir. The passing of two years with no pregnancy caused renewed Presbyterian libels on James’ preference for male company and there were whispers against Anne herself. There was great public relief when Anne gave birth to their first child in February 1594, Henry Frederick.
Soon after Henry’s birth, Anne and James battled for custody of their son. Anne suffered a miscarriage after becoming bitterly upset in a public scene in which James reduced her to rage and tears. When James left for London in 1603 to assume the English throne, Anne tried to gain custody of her son but she failed. She suffered another miscarriage after the failed attempt. Anne finally gained custody when she refused to join in London unless she was given their son and James gave in.
There were regular incidents of marital discord between Anne and James. In one confrontation, Anne shot and killed his favorite dog during a hunting session. After his initial anger, James smoothed things over with his wife by giving her a £2,000 diamond in memory of the dog, whose name was Jewel. Anne also took exception to his drinking and once confided to a French envoy, “the King drinks so much, and conducts himself so ill in every respect, that I expect an early and evil result.” James in turn argued with Anne over the composition of her household.
Anne adopted a cosmopolitan lifestyle in London while James preferred to stay away from the capital at his hunting lodge. After having seven children by 1607, they rarely lived together. Anne had narrowly survived the birth and death of their last child, Sophia, and her decision to have no more children added to the gulf between her and James. When their eldest son Henry died in 1612 it also added to the separation between them. Anne’s health soon deteriorated and she withdrew from public life. Her influence on her husband lessened as he became dependent on powerful favorites.
By 1617, bouts of Anne’s illness had become debilitating. She died in March 1619 at the age of 44 and with her until the end was her personal maid who had arrived with her from Denmark in 1590. She was buried in King Henry’s Chapel, Westminster Abbey and the catafalque placed over her grave was destroyed during the civil war. (x)