Anne Boleyn’s Execution by Helene Phoebe Harrison

Anne takes one tentative step out of the Queen’s Lodgings in the Tower of London, with William Kingston, the Constable of the Tower, following her. She sees the crowd that has gathered to witness her death. She mutters under her breath, “Idiots.” Not that she hasn’t witnessed executions before, even pushed for them. She regrets that now. She never thought that she would end her life on the same scaffold that Buckingham died on, Wolsey, Fisher, More. Anne takes a deep breath and presses forward, with her sight firmly set on the scaffold just feet in front of her. Anne knows that if she falters, she will lose her nerve, and it’s better to die a proper and willing death than to be chased around the scaffold, as the Duke of Buckingham came close to doing in 1521. She reaches the bottom of the steps and suddenly jumps backward, crushing Kingston’s foot. “Madam, is something wrong?” Anne stands stock still, it looks to Kingston as if she’s just staring into space. Anne whispers “George”, and takes a tiny step forward, reaching her hand out. Anne sees her brother, George, and the others who had died for her: Francis Weston, Henry Norris, William Brereton and Mark Smeaton. Mark steps forward, “Anne, I’m so sorry. I just wanted you to love me. I never meant for you to die. I just deluded myself.” George steps towards her, as if to embrace her. “It’s alright, sister. Death doesn’t hurt. It only lasts a second, and then we can be together. Forever. Always.” Anne nods, turns away from them, mounts the scaffold and Kingston follows her, then motions for her to step forward. “Madam, the King has allowed you to say a few words to these people,” he says, motioning to the crowd. He steps back and Anne steps forward. “His Majesty, the King, has been so kind to me, raising me from low birth to the high estate of Queen of England. I thank him most humbly.” Anne takes a deep breath before continuing; knowing that what she is going to say has the potential to be damaging. Not to her. Her life is already at an end. But damaging to her family: her mother and father, her sister, Mary, and her beloved daughter, Elizabeth. “I thank God that I was able to do so much good for so many people before this.” She takes another breath. “I declare my innocence before God. I never offended with my body against the King, my husband.” There was a sudden intake of breath. No one had dared to defy the King in such a public manner before. There were already members of the council heading towards her to stop her speaking, and William Kingston took hold of her arm and pulled her backward, away from the audience. “Madam,” he said in a terse whisper, “the King will not be amused. He will want revenge.” Recklessly, Anne replied, “I care not. My life is already forfeit. Henry can do me no more harm. He has already stolen my life.” “Think of your daughter.” “I do. Always. But with my reputation in tatters, Elizabeth will not have a life. She will be tarnished and brushed aside. Don’t forget, I know Henry. And I know what he can do. Look at what he did to Mary. His own daughter!” “Madam, your words are damaging. You cannot say any more.” “I understand. But it had to be said.” The executioner kneels down in front of Anne. “Madame, je vous demande pardon pour ce que je dois faire." "I know your duty. Be not afraid to do it. And do not crave my pardon, for you do me this day a greater boon than anything else. You release me from this world onto a higher plain, and for that I am grateful.”Anne’s niece, Catherine Carey, steps forward to take her jewellery, and Anne turns to her with a tense smile and thanks her for her service. “Catherine, thank you for all you have done. I want you to promise me something.” Catherine nods. “Please take care of Elizabeth for me – she’s your cousin and you and my sister will be the closest family she has.” “Of – of course.” Anne smiles and turns back to face her audience. “I am ready to face death in the knowledge that no one can hurt me anymore. To God I commend my soul.” She kneels down in the straw and repeats “To God I commend my soul.” The executioner turns away from her with a tear in his eye, and shouts to a young boy standing next to the scaffold, “Get me my sword.” Anne turns her head and sees the sky; the beauty of the clouds. One shaped like a falcon – her royal badge. An omen. The birds lift off the roofs of the Tower and Anne has a sudden remembrance. The prophecy. A Queen of England will be burned. She laughs out loud. Everyone stares at her, astounded. The young boy hands the executioner his sword and he swings it back over his shoulder. Anne’s final words ... “So beautiful.” The executioner lets the sword drop and Anne’s graceful arched neck splits, severing her head from her body. The eyes blink, before closing for the final time. The Duke of Suffolk turns, pulling his son with him. “No one will ever forget her.”

2 thoughts on “Anne Boleyn’s Execution by Helene Phoebe Harrison”

  1. stacey says:

    Anne Boleyn’s death will always break my heart. I went to England and visited the caste and read so much on Anne Boleyn and studied the Tudor period and for some reason It’s the story of Anne Boleyn’s death that disturbs me greatly. It doesn’t matter if it was nearly 500 years ago it feels like yesterday! I cry always at this merciless murder that she did not deserve! Her father and uncle deserved karma from what they have done to their kids. The Boleyn siblings were all innocent and sadly two were killed off over lies fears, jealousies, and greed. Filthy deceitful lies filled the towers. Lies and deceits. Makes me angry to this day. I hope I am not the only one that is saddened over her death. She seems to mean so much to me and it breaks my heart terribly. Wish we can fix the mess by going back into time but then maybe I would have to steal her away to the future for her to be safe. I was glad her daughter became queen of England! She was the best….

  2. Esther Grogan says:

    I too visited the Tower of London, and realised how cruel the British were to their own people. One young woman who was Queen for a week, and murdered there also.

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