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Women's History at Our Palaces

For centuries women have influenced the course of history, and the history of our palaces. Explore a selection of their stories below, compiled by our expert curators and contributors.

New Perspectives on Henry VIII's Queens

Six extraordinary women, who all had one man in common.

The Six Tudor Queens Podcast Series

Join Tracy Borman and a stellar cast of historians

This six-part series aims to strip away unhelpful narratives and myths, and better understand The Six Tudor Queens as women in their own time.

Anne of Cleves

Disregarded by some historians as the 'ugly one', for many Anne of Cleves was a brief footnote in Henry VIII's quest to secure the Tudor dynasty. But there is more to her story than meets the eye.

Katherine of Aragon

Katherine of Aragon was an intelligent, respected ruler who was devoted to her husband and her Catholic faith. As Queen, she acted as regent while Henry VIII was away, and even oversaw an attempted invasion.

Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn is one of the most intriguing figures in British history. Was she a ruthless schemer, or was her death simply a tragic consequence of court politics?

Sophia Duleep Singh, Suffragette Princess

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh was a suffragette who devoted her life to fighting for women's rights.

Daughter of deposed Maharaja Duleep Singh and goddaughter of Queen Victoria, she used her fame, position and tenacity in the fight for gender equality in the early 20th century.

Read Sophia's Story

Princess Sophia Duleep Singh was a suffragette who devoted her life to fighting tenaciously for women's rights. In this mini-documentary, Anita Anand explores the extraordinary life of Princess Sophia Duleep Singh, who lived at Hampton Court Palace.

"When the women of England are enfranchised and the state acknowledges me as a citizen I shall, of course, pay my share willingly towards its upkeep."

Sophia Duleep Singh, women's suffrage campaigner, refusing to pay taxes on her assets until women were afforded the vote

Explore the Queen's Staircase

Take a virtual stroll around the entrance to the Queen's Apartments at Hampton Court Palace, which was painted by Queen Caroline’s favourite architect, William Kent.

More Extraordinary Women

Frances Stuart and Barbara Villiers

Learn about the relationship between Frances Stuart and Barbara Villiers, two of the most influential women at the court of King Charles II.

A portrait of a woman with grey hair, in blue dress and white wrap

Royal Wetnurses: the 'Foster Mothers' of the Georgian Nursery

Taking on the role of 'foster mother' to young princes and princesses, royal wetnurses often developed a close personal bond with the royal family and received mementoes that were passed down in families for generations.

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu: Georgian Feminism, sexual-fluidity and disease

Lady Mary Wortley Montagu was a travel writer and aristocrat who wrote about her own non-normative body and non-heteronormative desires and experiences.

16th century woodcut of the coronation of Henry VIII and Katherine of Aragon. 16th century woodcut of the coronation of Henry VIII of England and Catherine of Aragon showing their heraldic badges, the Tudor rose and the pomegranate

Catalina of Motril

Catalina of Motril was a former servant to Katherine of Aragon, first wife of Henry VIII. She might have held the key to one of Tudor history's biggest secrets.

Queen Charlotte's Drawing Room

A Queen's retreat at Kew Palace

Queen Charlotte was Queen Consort to George III. They shared a happy life together, producing 15 children until their lives were changed and saddened by the King's devastating mental illness. Nonetheless, Charlotte remained steadfast and loyal to her husband.

In this podcast episode, Curator Polly Putnam takes us into Queen Charlotte's Drawing Room at Kew Palace, the home of the Royal Family during the illnesses of George III.

This small and domestic space holds a lot of sadness from the past, but from this, Polly reflects on finding joy in the meaning of home.

An engraving "Charlotte Queen of Great Britain" 1761, published by McArdell. Queen Charlotte is shown in head and shoulders profile to the right, with hair curled very close to her head. Inscription beneath the image: Charlotte Queen of Great Britain.

Image: Queen Charlotte. © Historic Royal Palaces

Can we respect Queen Victoria as feminists?

She believed a woman’s place was in the home and didn’t support the suffrage movement. While loved by many, Victoria is often thought of as an anti-feminist. Do women in authority have a responsibility to advocate for women's rights?

We invited vlogger and feminist Leena Norms to Kensington Palace to chat to our curator Polly Putnam.

Women and 'Contested History'

Sarah Forbes Bonetta and 'Contested History'

Blog by Zeinab Badawi

Journalist and former Historic Royal Palaces Trustee Zeinab Badawi shares her thoughts on the importance of welcoming diverse perspectives on our past, and the problem with the term "contested history".

Discover Forgotten Stories from the Royal Court

Untold Lives

14 March - 27 October 2024

A new exhibition at Kensington Palace, uncovering the forgotten stories of those who worked at the royal palaces over 300 years ago.