I used to watch Queen Anne at court, she was most beautiful woman there. All the ladies marvelled at her. Her dresses and jewels. Her dancing and her music. Her wit and her laughter. We were in awe of our Queen. Today I watched her die.
She arrived on Tower Hill escorted by Mr Kingston. Her delayed executioner, from Calais, was waiting on the scaffold. Gracefully she climbed the few steps to the timber platform and calmly observed the scene before her. She could not look at the executioner for long and the sword that would end her life was nowhere to be seen. Instead she turned to her ladies, spoke privately to them and left final gifts with a few.
“Good Christian people,”
She turned and spoke. The small crowd fell silent, we were transfixed by the delicate figure in front of us. Her voice did not waiver and she gazed back at us. Her eyes were as black as the damask dress she was wearing.
“I am come hither to die, for according to the law and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it.”
She was so brave and serene as she continued to speak. She showed no sorrow, no anger, just an acceptance of her unjust fate.
“I am come hither to accuse no man , nor to speak anything of that whereof I am accused and condemned to die.”
We all agreed her obedient dignity was her final gift to her daughter, the little Elizabeth, whose future seems so perilous now.
“But I pray God save the king and send him long reign over you for a gentler nor a merciful prince there was never. And to me he was ever a good, a gentle and sovereign lord.”
I could not understand how the Queen still had kind words for the husband that had deserted her. A King that had loved her for years but turned against her most cruelly. A husband that was far away from this sombre place, planning a new marriage to a new lady.
“Thus I take my leave of the world, and of you all, and I heartedly desire you all to pray for me. Lord have mercy on me, to God I commend my soul.”
Truly resigned, our beautiful Queen dropped to her knees. For the first time today, I saw fear in her eyes and we wept at the tragedy unfolding before us. The executioner called out across the scaffold so that she turned her little neck towards the stairs, and whilst the Queen was distracted, he snatched up his hidden sword and stuck her head from her body with one blow. His trickery; a gracious mercy.
I could not look upon the gruesome platform any longer. I choose not to remember that vision. I will remember watching my beautiful queen at court. Beloved by a King, by a Princess, by a court, by me.
- Hall’s Chronicle (for Anne’s dialogue)
- The Spanish Chronicle
- The Queens of England – A.Strickland
By Hannah Biscombe