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Henry VIII's children

All three of Henry's children went on to become kings and queens of England.

All three of Henry's children went on to become kings and queens of England.

Portrait of Edward VI as a child.  National Gallery of Art, Washington DC, USA / Bridgeman Images

Edward VI, born 1537, reigned 1547-53

Edward, born and christened at Hampton Court Palace was the eagerly-awaited son of Henry VIII and his third wife, Jane Seymour. Henry is said to have wept with joy as he held his infant son, then wept again a few days later when the queen died from post-birth complications.

As a little boy Edward was spoiled and indulged, he even had his own fighting bears. He was extremely well-educated by a set of forward-thinking Cambridge scholars, who instilled in the prince a respect for religious reform. Even before he was 8, Edward was fluent in Latin, Greek and French.

He was crowned aged 9, although his uncle, Seymour, acted as his protector until he was deposed in 1550. But sickly Edward had little time left to carry out any of the great religious reforms he wanted. He finally succumbed to tuberculosis in 1553, aged only 15. 

Queen Mary I by Master John, 1544.  National Portrait Gallery, NPG 428

Mary I, born 1516, reigned 1553-58

Mary Tudor was the only surviving child of King Henry VIII’s 24-year marriage to Katherine of Aragon. When her mother fell from favour, Princess Mary’s own future looked doubtful, and she was demoted to 'Lady Mary'.

As queen, Mary was notorious, and seemed bent on revenging her Catholic mother and returning the country to the 'old religion'. Her persecution of over 300 Protestants earned her the title 'Bloody Mary' and the nursery rhyme 'Mary Mary, quite contrary' is thought to refer to her attempt to re-impose the Catholic faith upon England.

In 1554 she married Philip of Spain. A year later, it was thought the queen was pregnant, and the court gathered at Hampton Court Palace to await the birth. However, no baby ever came. Mary’s swollen belly was possibly the result of a psychological phantom pregnancy.

Elizabeth I, born 1533, reigned 1559-1603

Elizabeth was the only daughter of Henry VIII and his second wife, Anne Boleyn. The little princess’s life was thrown into chaos aged nearly 3, when her mother was executed. Elizabeth was declared illegitimate and banished from court. She was brought up in Hatfield House in Hertford, but reinstated at court after Prince Edward’s birth.

Protestant Elizabeth appears to have been clever and quick-witted which were talents she put to good use. However, as a young woman she was perceived as a threat to her Catholic half-sister Mary. At one point, Mary imprisoned her in the Tower of London on suspicion of treason. The courage and coolness under questioning she demonstrated augured well for her extraordinary 45-year reign. Elizabeth, the 'Virgin Queen' famously never married. 

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Experience a Members-only viewing of the Crown Jewels at the Tower of London.

22 January and 12 February 2018

Tower of London

Doors open at 18:30 for a 19:00 start.

View of the White Tower exterior

See the Line of Kings and the Chapel of St John the Evangelist after hours with a White Tower guide, at the Tower of London.

19 February and 12 March 2018

Tower of London

Doors open 18:15 for a 18:30 start.

St Thomas's Tower and the Wakefield Tower at the Tower of London, viewed from Tower Bridge at night.

Join George Goodwin in a highly-illustrated talk on this dramatic and murderous tale.

26 March 2018

Tower of London

Doors open at 13:45 for a 14:00 start

Tudor Kitchens:  The Taste Of The Fire book
An illustrated book, written by palace curators and food archaeologists, explores eating at court and the Tudor diet.

Tudor kitchens: The taste of the fire

An illustrated book, written by palace curators and food archaeologists, explores eating at court and the Tudor diet.

£4.99

Six Wives Charm Bracelet.  An intriguing royal heraldic charm bracelet with charms of Henry VIII and his six wives family crests.

Divorced, beheaded, died charm bracelet

Divorced, beheaded, died charm bracelet with each charm representing the fate of Henry VIII’s six wives.

£24.99

King Henry VIII deluxe dress up costume

King Henry VIII deluxe dress up costume

Children’s King Henry VIII dress up costume featuring luxurious Tudor robes made from satin and velour, trimmed with faux fur.

£29.99