31 May 1533 – Queen Anne Boleyn processes through London

On this day in history, Saturday 31st May 1533, the eve of her coronation, a pregnant Queen Anne Boleyn processed from the Tower of London to Westminster Hall.

This coronation procession must have been a wonderful sight for the people of London. Not only was it a huge procession of people dressed in fine clothes and horses in lavish trappings, there were stops for pageants, orations and music, and there was wine at a special wine fountain or flowing in the conduit in Fleet Street.

And, of course, there was England’s new queen.

Under a canopy of cloth of gold, decorated with gilt statues and silver bells, was Queen Anne with her hair loose and flowing. She was wearing a surcoat of white cloth of gold, an ermine-trimmed mantle of matching cloth of gold, and a coif with a circlet of “rich stones”.

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For a timeline of the events of 1533, that led to Anne Boleyn going from queen-in-waiting to a crowned queen consort and mother, click here.

Picture: Apollo and the Muses on Parnassus by Hans Holbein the Younger, a design for a montage for Anne’s coronation procession.

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12 thoughts on “31 May 1533 – Queen Anne Boleyn processes through London”
  1. All I can say is that I would love to have seen this. The last of Henry’s wives to have a coronation and what a spectacle. Anne must have been walking on air. Not only being crowned as queen of one the most important realms in the world but carrying Henry’s heir.

  2. I love the Greek mythological references, Apollo the God of music medicine and archery and the nine muses who personified the arts, the daughters of Zeus and Memory, the scene of the judgement of Paris, where he hands the golden apple of strife to Anne awestruck with her incomparable beauty instead of to Aphrodite, the london citizens must have revelled in this spectacular event coming just after the water pageant the day before, free wine was flowing, always deemed to put a smile on the scowl of even the most grumpy, and as Anne appeared she must have seemed like a fairy queen to them, resplendent in gold and underneath an ornate canopy of the same shade, I can see the little figures and hear the tinkling bells, she wore a fewelled circlet on her head and the sum must have caught the reflection as it bounced of them, she wore her hair loose and with gems entwined, her hair had always been her best feature along with her distinctive eyes and was said to be so long she could sit on it, it must have made a lovely sight strands of glittering orbs against the ebony darkness, many of the watchers must have gazed in curiousity at the woman who had so enchanted their King he had turned his realm upside down for her, they had heard rumours of how the King had wanted to rid himself of his faithful wife of twenty years all for love of her and had risked civil war and excommunication, she must be quite something, the river pageant had quite possibly not allowed much sight of her, but riding through the city they had a better look and what did they think when they looked at her, where Katherine had been short and dumpy with auburn colouring, this second queen of Henrys was completely different, slender taller and dark, as the procession wound its way through the dusty cobbled streets she must have permitted them a gracious smile as she passed and perhaps some of the men smiled back, bewitched suddenly by a flash of those famous large eyes, the women grumbling and snorting no doubt but after a few glasses of claret good humour would have sunk in, this was a great day for the poorer citizens of the city as it must have been a reprieve from the daily drudge of their lives, free wine as well, I bet many stumbled home that evening and possibly ended up in a different house, the stark contrast though between the luxury and pomp of the ceremony the beautiful clothes of Anne her lords and ladies, and the nobility must have seemed very real to the poor in their rags, Chapyus was to call the affair meagre but he was biased, we British have always put on a good ceremony and meagre it certainly was not, the following day she was to be crowned in Westminster that ancient set of coronation and burial, she would be crowned with the ancient crown of King Edward, people would bow and curtesy to her, she who once had been called that foolish girl by Cardinal Wolsley was going to have her own coronation, as Michael says it was a singular honour, none of her successors were to enjoy that, there is no record of Anne fainting or looking unwell as she was heavily pregnant but it seemed like she was having an easy time of it, of course there were her ladies to pamper to her every need but she must have felt tired a lot, she must have felt that day that the gods had blessed her and she must have been brimming with happiness, at least we know she had those days of complete joy before it began to turn sour.

    1. Hi Christine. You write so beautifully. Have you ever written professionally? It’s always such a treat when you post.

      1. No but it’s in the blood Jane Austens a distant cousin of mine, thank you for your kind words Michael.

  3. Chapuys as Christine said was strongly biased and his description of a mean coronation is obviously for the benefit of Katherine and others and of course is not accurate. It reads as one of the most magnificent coronations ever recorded. Henry particularly wanted to show Anne off and he wanted to present her as a true Queen, with no doubt about her status. This was because he and Katherine had been crowned together in another magnificent ceremony and so Katherine could legitimately say she was a sacred Queen Consort, anointed by the Holy Ghost and the holy oils and chosen by God, with her husband to rule. This couldn’t be undone and her Coronation was not a sham. Henry had to present to the people that in fact as his first marriage was not valid, it was Anne, not Katherine who was his true and only Queen, undoubted so, blessed by God and carrying the future Prince. He was presenting Anne as fertile and the one true Queen of England. By making certain she had the beautiful and wonderful procession he introduced her to the people, everyone saw her in her finery and everyone loved a good show, a pageant. She was dressed in gold and white damask and she showed herself at her best, just as the people liked to see their King and now a new Queen. Henry presented Anne as a holy goddess, just as Katherine had been twenty-five years earlier, she shone like the sun, she was presented as pure with her hair loose around her shoulders, hair which was long and beautiful, he presented the woman he loved so they would love her too and he showered every ounce of affection onto her in this dazzling display of power and mystical Majesty.

    I too love the many pageants along the way, a bit like the tableaux at Blackpool illuminations showing many live scenes of saints and people from the myths of old. We have mystical beasts, children as the muses, gods and goddesses, fairies, the holy saints from the Bible, the grandmother of Jesus, Saint Anne, for whom Anne was no doubt named, the three Mary’s, presumably the Holy Mother of Jesus, Mary the wife of Cleopas and Mary of Magdela and we have children singing a song of worship to Queen Anne. It must have been a happy and wonderful, if very hot and long, tiring day. I can’t think that with all that food and wine and entertainment that people, even die hard supporters of Katherine and Mary, can’t have failed to enjoy themselves.

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