Anna was the wife of Francis Russell, 7th Duke of Bedford, and sister in law to the British Prime Minister John Russell. She was a life-long friend of Queen Victoria and between 1841 and 1847 served as a Lady of the Bedchamber. The Duchess and her husband entertained the Queen at the Bedfords' country house Woburn Abbey in 1841. The Duchess was also the chief mourner at the funeral of Princess Augusta in 1840.
The Duchess is best remembered as the creator of the British meal "afternoon tea. During the 18th century, dinner came to be served later and later in the day until by the early 1800s, the normal time was between 7:00 and 8:30 p.m. An extra meal called luncheon had been created to fill the midday gap between breakfast and dinner, but as this new meal was very light, the long afternoon with no refreshment at all left people feeling hungry. The Duchess found taking an afternoon snack to be such a perfect refreshment that she soon began inviting her friends to join her. Afternoon tea quickly became an established and convivial repast in many middle and upper class households.