In 1708, Britain is in full war with France, and Queen Anne is on the throne. With fragile health, Anne has little heart to deal with the government of the country and instead prefers eccentric activities like duck races or playing with her 17 rabbits, each of whom is a child whom she lost over the years. Her counselor, Sarah Churchill, the Duchess of Marlborough, is basically the country because of her influence on the Queen.
Sarah’s efforts to control Anne are undermined by Robert Harley, a member of Parliament who disagrees with a certain charge that Queen has imposed on her to get money to fund the war. Meanwhile, Abigail Hill, the poor cousin of Sarah, arrives at the palace to look for work. Abigail’s reputation is blunted by her father who lost her to a card game in favor of a German.
In the beginning, Sarah is made to do little housework, but after seeing the Queen’s precarious health, she notices a chance to approach her cousin, and then Queen herself. Sarah uses some herbs to create cure to relieve the Queen’s suffering, and even if she is punished by her cousin for acting on assumptions, she goes to grace when it turns out that her cure has a beneficial effect on the Queen. As a courtesy, Queen gives her a much more important job.