What did Elizabeth I think of her mother, Anne Boleyn? Historian Tracy Borman explains

Did Elizabeth I and her mother, Anne Boleyn, have much of a relationship? Anne was executed when Elizabeth was just a young girl – but that didn't mean Elizabeth just forgot about her. So what did she think about her mother, Henry VIII's second wife? Historian Tracy Borman explains...

Anne Boleyn (left) and her daughter, Elizabeth I. (Photos by Getty Images)

What did Elizabeth I think of her mother, Anne Boleyn?

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On 19 May 1536, Queen Anne Boleyn, second wife of King Henry VIII, was executed by beheading within the confines of the Tower of London. She had been queen for just three years.

Anne and Henry’s daughter, Elizabeth – who became Queen Elizabeth I in 1558 – was just a small child at the time of her mother’s death. So how did Elizabeth I view Anne as she grew up?

Historian Tracy Borman explains…

“The popular misconception is that Elizabeth didn’t really regard her mother at all; she only mentioned twice in her life. In fact, Elizabeth mentioned her a good deal more than that.

“But you can see why Elizabeth didn’t make a song and dance about her mother. She would have been upsetting swathes of the population by aligning herself to a woman who’d gone down as a scandal (as the ‘great whore’, as she was known). So Elizabeth had to be careful not to associate too closely with her.

Elizabeth expressed her loyalty in subtle ways. She promoted her Boleyn relatives at court and she wore Anne's jewellery

“That said, Elizabeth expressed her loyalty in subtle ways. She promoted her Boleyn relatives at court and she wore Anne’s jewellery. For example, she had a locket ring that contained two portraits, one of Elizabeth and the other of Anne.

“That locket ring was kept in a locked casket by Elizabeth until the day she died. It was clearly one of her most treasured possessions.”


Watch: Tracy Borman on what Elizabeth I thought of her mother – in less than 60 seconds

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Tracy Borman was talking to Rachel Dinning at BBC History Magazine’s 2017 History Weekend