On this day (February 13 in the modern calendar) in 1689 the 'Glorious Revolution' (aka the coup d'état that overthrew King James II) neared its conclusion with the accession of William of Orange and Mary Stuart to the throne of England as joint monarchs (they acceded to the throne of Scotland a few months later). Mary Stuart – James's daughter and heir until his son (the 'old pretender') was born in 1788 – was a Protestant while James was a Catholic.
The Orange Order claims the 'Glorious Revolution', and the supposed religious freedom it brought, as one of the key reasons why it wants Northern Ireland to remain in the UK, and practically deifies King William. Every other Protestant male over a certain age is called William (or Billy), and his image adorns banners, murals and Carrickfergus.
But where is Mary? Why is she absent from the deification, the banners, the murals, and the names of most Protestant women? Where is her statue? If the 'Glorious revolution' was the key event that Orangemen celebrate, Mary was as much responsible as her husband (and cousin) William. They were, after all, joint monarchs – she was not just called the queen because she married the king. Yet she is largely invisible in Orange hagiography. In fact, in Northern Ireland if a woman is called Mary, there is almost complete certainty that she is a Catholic, whereas if a man is called William, he is almost always a Protestant.
It is true that Mary Stuart deferred to her husband, but she was far from a submissive wife, and played a very active role in religious affairs. Is her absence from the modern Orange consciousness a reflection of misogyny, or is it simply because William actually came over to Ireland while Mary consolidated the regime in England?
It is surely time for the Orange Order to rediscover their feminine side.