The basket of roses and other flowers waiting outside the chapel to be laid on Anne's tile. c. Paudie Kennelly
The basket of roses and other flowers waiting outside the chapel to be laid on Anne’s tile. c. Paudie Kennelly

“Queen Anne Boleyn, 19th of May 1536” is the wording on the card that accompanies the basket of red roses delivered to the Tower of London each year on 19th May and placed on Anne Boleyn’s memorial tile in the chancel of the Chapel of St Peter ad Vincula. Whenever I go to the Tower on 19th, I am moved by these roses – such a simple message, but one that moves me to tears.

Today, people will lash out in anger at Thomas Cromwell and/or Henry VIII. Henry VIII is bound to get called some choice names on Twitter, Facebook etc., and people will point out that Thomas Cromwell “got what was coming to him” in the end, but I’m going to forget about those men and the plot; I’m going to think about Queen Anne Boleyn.

Anne stole my heart in January 2009 and hasn’t let go since. My fascination with her has grown from a hobby into a career, she has quite literally taken over my life. If it wasn’t for the dream I had about her execution on that January night, I would still be ghost-writing for other people instead of researching and writing about what I am interested in. Her impact on my life is undeniable and I feel truly blessed to do what I do and to have met the people I have. My interest in her has grown into an interest in her whole family (George also owns a sizeable portion of my heart now!) and Henry VIII’s reign, and I’m now a self-confessed Tudor nut.

At her execution, Anne Boleyn chose to face death with dignity. She was a woman known for her quick temper and reckless words, but at a time when she could be forgiven for losing her cool and lashing out she followed scaffold etiquette and accepted her death sentence, even praising the King:

“Good Christian people, I have not come here to preach a sermon; I have come here to die. For according to the law and by the law I am judged to die, and therefore I will speak nothing against it. I am come hither to accuse no man, nor to speak of that whereof I am accused and condemned to die, but I pray God save the King and send him long to reign over you, for a gentler nor a more merciful prince was there never, and to me he was ever a good, a gentle, and sovereign lord. And if any person will meddle of my cause, I require them to judge the best. And thus I take my leave of the world and of you all, and I heartily desire you all to pray for me.”

I will leave you with the words Thomas Cranmer, Archbishop of Canterbury, and Anne Boleyn’s friend and confessor, uttered on that awful day:

“She who has been the Queen of England upon earth will to-day become a Queen in heaven.”

Here’s to Queen Anne Boleyn!

Please feel free to comment below saying what Anne Boleyn means to you or what you’re doing today to remember her.

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