Discover Britain

Great British ROMANCES

Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn

Henry VIII’s second marriage was no normal love story... After all, it’s rare a woman ends up marrying their sister’s ex-boyfriend

Whether defined by anguished love letters or record-breaking diamonds, marriage or chastity, politics or poetry, the British in love are not easily pigeon-holed. In fact, our nation’s greatest romances have little in common with one another – except that most didn’t end happily ever after, as childhood fairy tales promise.

Take Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, for example. Not many of the world’s all-time greatest love stories end with one half of the couple ordering the beheading of the other on charges of witchcraft, incest and adultery but then again, Henry VIII’s second marriage was no normal love story. After all, it is rare that a woman ends up marrying their sister’s ex-boyfriend.

It was Mary Boleyn who first became Henry’s mistress, yet it was Anne who he married, having decided that she was not “ruined” like her elder sister. Anne was also schooled in France and fluent in French – a major USP at the time – so attracted a coterie of suitors when

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