Royal Weddings
The Marriage that Changed England

It wasn't the most lavish of royal weddings in history. In fact, only the royal couple, the chaplain, Dr Rowland Lee, and three witnesses were present in the early hours of January 25th 1533, in a little-used turret in Whitehall.

Normally in Tudor times, weddings would not have been held that early in the morning, nor in such a hole-and-corner fashion, but the union between Henry VIII, King of England, and his long-time love interest, was no ordinary love-story.

For starters, the groom had been married for more than 20 years to someone else - and his wife was still very much alive. And the Pope, who back then had the last say in these matters, had not granted a divorce to England's royal couple, nor had he agreed to a marriage between King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn.

And Anne, intelligent, vivacious and ambitious, with a bit of an (undeserved) reputation as a witch, was perhaps not the best 'replacement' for a Spanish princess.

No wonder that Dr Lee was a little hesitant to perform the marriage service. But if the king of England assures you that the pope had agreed to both the king's divorce and remarriage - what choice did the man have?

So the marriage that Anne Boleyn had held out for for so long, finally took place and made her Henry's wife. Anne's patience, courage and cleverness were finally rewarded.

Did she mind that the marriage took place in secret? Probably not, since Anne was already pregnant with the future Queen Elizabeth I. And after all the trouble she went to to capture a king, she wouldn't have wanted to jeopardise her daughter's position. Anyway, once the news was out, Henry made up for this quietest of royal weddings by giving his new wife a most lavish coronation.

I suppose it's a distinction of sorts to be able to drive a king so desperate with desire that he is willing to take on the might of the church, that he is prepared to change beliefs he grew up with and turn his country upside down in the process. It's never a monarch's firs task to cause strife in his own realm, but Henry did just that for Anne.

I hope the thought warmed her, especially since her king's love came at such a high price.

Return from the romance of Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn to the Royal Weddings page, to explore the lives and loves of other royal couples.