A relocation to London isn’t just about finding a job or an apartment rental—it’s about understanding the history and culture of your international relocation’s point of destination. Welcome back, then, to another installment of our Weekend Warrior Sunday series that seeks to give you bite-sized bits of British history in following the sequence of Britain’s monarchy.
Last week, we saw the short reign of King Edward VI, only son of Henry VIII. The Duke of Northumberland, John Dudley, had persuaded the young king to declare his two sisters, Mary and Elizabeth, illegitimate and therefore unqualified to succeed to the throne. (Dudley is fiercely Protestant, so egad! at the thought of staunchly Catholic Mary assuming the throne and making England anything other than a Protestant state!) In their stead, Edward VI had agreed to pass his throne on to Lady Jane Grey, the Duke’s daughter-in-law, which is where we will pick up today.
Lady Jane Grey is an unwilling pawn in this game of political chess, which is what makes her fate all the more tragic. Four days after Edward VI dies on 6 July 1553, Jane is declared Queen of England. From then, she has a whole nine days to reign.
Mary, you see, is building support. She’s becoming so popular, in fact, that her backing is eroding away at the Duke of Northumberland’s. It doesn’t seem that Jane has any qualms about relinquishing her crown, and yet Mary has her, her husband, and her father imprisoned at the Tower of London. Tried for high treason, Lady Jane Grey is beheaded on 12 February 1554.
Related London sightseeing: Delaroche’s “The Execution of Lady Jane Grey” painting at the National Gallery, a most moving image indeed; the Tower of London, where Lady Jane Grey was imprisoned and executed (in its Beauchamp Tower is a carving of her name attributed to her husband).