I first learnt about the mythical and fascinating Anne Boleyn when I was only 10 years old, and a studious primary school pupil. To my innocent, young mind, her supposed crimes seemed unimaginable. That a woman could rise so high, and then behave so badly… because it never crossed my mind that a man so noble and true as the King of England could behead his own dearly loved wife if she was not guilty.
Of course, as I grew up and learnt more about Anne and her downfall, I began to believe that she was almost certainly innocent and undeserving of her fate. Yet how she went from queen to corpse in such a short space of time is a story that never stales. How she captured Henry VIII’s complicated, callous heart, only to lose her own head. How could Henry have loved, and then hated her so?
Anne was a husband stealer, a manipulator, too witty and charming for her own good. While these were admirable qualities in a mistress, being flirtatious and capricious were not welcome qualities in a queen. On the other hand, Anne was devoted to God, a good mother, an intelligent and bright woman. These contradictions only add to her allure.
In my short story, The Queen’s Ghost, I portray the ghost of Anne as a tired and weary spirit, who wants nothing more than to rest in peace. The truth is, I don’t think we will ever know the truth of Anne’s heart. But the glimpses she offers through the shroud of history, that shadow in the mirror of time, are simply too tantalising to leave alone.
The truly beautiful and magnificent thing about Anne is how, from beyond the grave, she won the final victory. In her daughter Elizabeth, she bore the greatest queen England has ever seen, a monarch who entirely eclipsed Henry VIII’s sole male heir, Edward VI. Her failure to bear a boy may have cost her her life, but in the eyes of history, she has the final triumph. As we relive the horror of May 1536, I like to think of Anne smiling to herself, safe in a world which treats her better than this one ever did.
**On 19th May 2014, a bouquet of flowers will be laid in the Chapel Royal of St Peter ad Vincula at the Tower of London, in remembrance of Anne and arranged by Queenanneboleyn.com**