Claire’s new Anne Boleyn tattoo – Let them grumble!

Posted By on November 24, 2021

Hello to you all! I just wanted to share a video I’ve made for the Anne Boleyn Files and Tudor Society YouTube Channel about my latest Anne Boleyn tattoo and the story behind it.

In the video, I also explain the origin of the cupboard cloth, from which the image comes, the meaning of Anne Boleyn’s motto Ainsi sera, groigne qui groigne, and the accompanying badge, and just why this motto means so much to me.

You can read more about Anne Boleyn’s falcon badge in my article Anne Boleyn’s Badge

And you can read more about the cupboard cloth at

My other Anne Boleyn tattoo can be seen at

If you prefer reading an article to watching a video, here is the transcript…

In around late 1529/1530, during the Great Matter, Henry VIII’s quest for an annulment of his first marriage to Catherine of Aragon, Anne Boleyn, the woman whom he was courting, adopted the motto “Ainsi sera, groigne qui groigne”, which roughly translates from French to “Let them grumble, this is the way it’s going to be”. Anne had her servants’ livery embroidered with the motto which the late historian Eric Ives believes to have been inspired by the imperial motto, which Anne would have known from her time with Margaret of Austria, “groigne qui groigne et vive Bourgoigne”.

It was a short lived motto for Anne, but it appears on a piece of linen embroidered in silk which is thought to have been part of a cupboard cloth, a cloth on which objects were displayed. According to popular legend, it was embroidered by Anne Boleyn’s mother, Elizabeth Boleyn, née Howard, who played chaperone to Anne when Henry VIII was courting her The cloth has an oval design with the motto displayed in its border In the middle is an image of Anne Boleyn’s white falcon, which came from her Irish Butler ancestry, pecking at a pomegranate, the symbol of Catherine of Agaron, who was, of course, opposing the annulment of her marriage and being an obstacle in Anne and Henry’s way to happiness.

Anne’s falcon is also depicted perched on a stock, or tree stump, a Plantagenet badge, from which red and white roses spring, symbolising Anne bringing fertility to Henry VIII’s previously barren stock.

The falcon on the stock was a badge that Anne also used at her coronation in 1533, but then the bird was also holding a sceptre and wearing an imperial crown, symbolising Anne’s legitimacy as queen, her God-given authority, and the couple’s imprrial ambitions. The falcon pecking the pomegranate also appears in a music book linked to Anne.

The fragment of cupboard cloth was found in the mid-17th century during restoration work at Greenwich Palace, hidden behind some panelling. It is not complete, but it is wonderful that it survived.

As I said, it was a short-lived motto, perhaps because it wasn’t seen as very appropriate, and obviously the falcon pecking the pomegranate is rather spiteful, and not very queenly. Anne went on to use the falcon in a different way and her motto changed to “The Most Happy”.

Why am I talking about this motto and badge? Well, let me tell you a story….

Back in August of this year, I was doing a book launch and talk with my dear friend Dr Owen Emmerson, at Hever Castle for our book The Boleyns of Hever Castle. I was so excited about it and I knew my stuff, I could talk about the Boleyns all night, but I had this niggling doubt, a chink in my armour of confidence.

My sister-in-law’s friend offered to give me a session of NLP, neuro linguistic programming, just to help me gain back my previous confidence, so I took her up on the offer. The NLP uncovered my confidence, my belief in myself. I truly believed that I was an expert on the Boleyns, and that the topic was my passion, but it also uncovered how previous toxicity, some online hate, had affected me and brought me down. Ivana, the NLP practitioner, explained that every time gave any attention to this hate, the low energy of that person or people affected my higher energy and brought me down. she asked me if what they said or did had any real bearing on me and what I did, and the answer was, of course, no, so, Ivana said, why waste any time or energy on it? It was surely best to focus on my work and the people that mattered.

As she said that, and I imagined one particular hater getting smaller and smaller, to the size of an ant, the words that sprang to my mind so clearly were “Let them grumble, that’s the way it’s going to be”, Anne’s motto. I could understand why Anne, who was encountering so much hatred, used that motto in a moment of defiance. The haters were going to hate, but she was going to keep on doing what she was doing. I love that bit of insight into how she was feeling – the defiance, the spite, the spirit behind it all is oh so human.

Obviously Anne was persuaded to use a more queenly motto, and I think letting go of the haters and their effect on her did help her to move on to be The Most Happy, letting go of the toxicity that I’ve encountered in the past and not letting it get to me today has been so refreshing for me. I love what I do, I’m loved and respected by those I care about. I write for my audience, not for everybody, I can’t please everyone. I don’t need the approval of people who can pour out scorn, bitterness, hatred and disapproval. Let them grumble. I think it’s a valuable lesson we can all learn from Anne’s motto, isn’t it?

While I continue to encounter online toxicity today, and will in the future, I now feel able to let it go, for it to have no effect on me, and I tend to only get involved if it’s aimed at others, if it’s bullying or bigoted – I have zero tolerance for that. I have learnt that the haters are going to hate. I can’t control them or their actions, but I can control my response o it, the effect it has on me, and I choose to let them grumble while I continue to be the Most Happy in what I do.

I’ve marked this revelation, this life choice with a tattoo – sorry, Mum! It’s copied from the cupboard cloth, but Tim worked hard at making it complete before I gave the image to the wonderful Vicen, the tattooist (shout-out to Vicen Valls Tattoo, Albox).


Claire asked me to look at the original cupboard cloth and see if I could turn it into an image suitable for a tattoo artist so as you can see here this is the original image which is quite damaged it’s been cut around at some point in its life and it’s been folded together but the lines are incredibly clear and crisp so I started off by masking the image which means getting rid of the black bits around them so that I could start with just the edge so that I could start with just the centre section and then I turned the image black and white because Claire wanted a black and white tattoo, not a colour tattoo.

As you can see here, but they’re still grey so then I used level adjustments which basically get rid of those grey areas which are not needed but leave you with nice dark black areas and at this point I could start looking at which parts of the image had to be repaired because of damage through the past.

The first area I worked on was the Tudor rose and that basically involved me copying and pasting and rotating the sections that were existing and making a good guess as to where the rose would have been originally.

Then on to the leaf which is also cut in half and for that I basically hand drew the top section of it, again making a guess as to what could have been there before.

The butterfly was fairly straightforward and just needed some of the fold marks to be removed and cleaned up on it.

Now the crown was an interesting one because obviously the top of the crown was not there in the original image so I had to go and have a look at the Edward crown and decided that that was probably what it was based upon and so I hand drew in the top cross section and completed in the left-hand part which is missing in the original image.

Then the centre section needed to be cleaned up because of the folds and the rips in the cloth and some parts which had not been cleaned up by my
level adjustments so I set to work cleaning up the falcon in the centre. As you can see here it’s a lot cleaner there are no sections that are
now kind of what I would call dirty on it.

And then finally with the image, it was just a case of generally cleaning up any extra parts and just making it so that it was a nice clean image ready for the tattoo artist to put onto Claire’s arm

Here is the tattoo. It is in the healing phase as it’s only a few days old. I know there will be some people online who don’t approve of me having the tattoo, but as an amazing woman once said, “Let them grumble”. I really am the Most Happy with it and it will be such a reminder for me moving forward in my work.

A big thank you to you all for the constant encouragement you give me. It is very much appreciated.

19 thoughts on “Claire’s new Anne Boleyn tattoo – Let them grumble!”

  1. JoAnn Boothby says:

    Your series and talks on queen Anne are awesome and I love hearing you talk about the different Tudor times
    Your tattoo is gorgeous and I would show it off proudly
    Thank you for all you do.

  2. Mariella Moretti says:

    Dear Claire,
    once more thank you, thank you, thank you for your wonderful work on Anne Boleyn.
    Let the stupid haters grumble, it’s just envy. On the contrary, so many people admire and love you.
    Wishing you all the best in life,
    Mariella Moretti
    from Milano, Italy.

  3. Margaret says:

    I am woman, hear me ROAR! I LOVE IT! You do you, Claire. You’re lucky to be able to do what you love, and there are those of us who fully support you and appreciate your hard work!

  4. Roland H. says:


    Great tattoo and great story behind it!

    Isn’t it marvelous how Anne Boleyn continues to inspire – and even empower – us today!

  5. CJ McCarthy says:

    Anne, I LOVE your tattoo! Thank you for sharing the history behind it. Keep up the hard & know that so many of us appreciate all that you do!
    Let them Grumble!

  6. Walter Ritchie says:

    Claire, that is great tattoo, looks wonderful and thank you for your terrific story of her motto. A great motto and I will use myself if I can learn to pronounce it better. Your talk was not only informative, but inspirational as well. Thank you for your insight and for all your great research on Anne.
    I am new to your sight and am enjoying it greatly.

  7. Marcha Lofton says:

    I love your tattoo. Please don’t stop what your doing, I love your work! Tudor his and the history of Anne Boleyn is some of my most favorite and if weren’t for you I wouldn’t know as much as I do. Thank so very much, I appreciate you tremendously and applauded you for it ALL!!!!

  8. Tina Samuels says:

    Hi Claire,
    The tattoo looks great! I had read about Anne’s first motto many times but did not know all the background. And how wonderful that you put both her mottos into modern practice. i recently met with a local tattoo artist about getting “TMH” tattoo on my arm and your story is inspiring me to follow through.

  9. Karen nugent says:

    I love it!

  10. Christine says:

    Anne was right let them grumble, she was more or less saying ‘up yours’, to her detractors, it is a powerful message to any person who is the object of others scorn and derision, one must rise above the negativity those people are not important, and today that is never more prevalent than on social media where trolling is widespread, but yes I think that she possibly ditched her old motto in favour of the much more appropriate ‘ the most happy’, it was not very wise or queenly to portray her emblem pecking at Henry’s ex wife’s emblem, it looked petty and yes spiteful, it could be also that the king did not approve either, a queen must be dignified and gracious, she must not be seen to be acting like a fishwife in the market, and besides Katherine had done no wrong, Anne’s motto is all the more poignant because her tenure as queen was so brief, the piece of needlework her mother worked on is very precious and it does make a lovely design for Claire’s tattoo, a lovely tribute to the doomed queen and one that also carries an important message to, by one of her most ardent admirers, well done Claire.

  11. Caren Watson says:

    I love it I wish I had the nerve to get a tattoo!

  12. Su Rogers says:

    Yes Dear Claire – I admire all that you do. I have your book Hever Castle. I have watched many of your wonderful videos. It is really sad how there are a few torturers out there in the universe who have nothing better to do than harm others. Happy to hear that you have taken the steps you did to restore yourself. So many of us have been through similar attacks over the most benign things. It is a remarkable really how crazed the world has become with social media pushing the bullies forward with their miserable posting. Take care. Carry on with your terrific work.

    1. Claire says:

      Thank you! Yes, some people are so full of bitterness and jealousy, and they lead very sad lives.

  13. Tudor Rose says:

    Hi Claire
    Wow love your tattoo ❤️
    Glad you’re gonna ignore the haters.
    Just keep being true to yourself
    I Really want a Tudor Rose tattoo… 2022 life goal

    1. Claire says:

      Thank you! Oh do send me a photo when you’ve had it done!

      1. Tudor Rose says:

        I will ❤️

  14. Diane Howe says:

    I very much enjoyed this video and kudos to you for getting the tattoo!!

  15. Glo Sollecito says:

    Stunning!!! Good for you, I love it!

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