On 19th May 1536 Anne Boleyn became the only Queen of England in history to be executed. She met her death by way of a sword wielded by an expert French swordsman.
However what exactly was Anne’s regal status when she climbed the scaffold that day?
The answer is that she was Queen of England. According to Alison Weir’s, The Lady in the Tower, Anne forfeited all her other titles when she was convicted of High Treason against her husband, King Henry VIII. She was ceremoniously requested to surrender her crown, which she did without resistance, but no formal mention or request was made to withdraw her royal title of Queen.
The fact that Anne remained Queen is borne out by the Act of Succession 1534 where as seen below Anne was referred to as ‘your most dear and entirely beloved wife Queen Anne
‘….Lady Katherine shall be from henceforth called and reputed only dowager to Prince Arthur, and not queen of this realm; and that the lawful matrimony had and solemnised between your highness and your most dear and entirely beloved wife Queen Anne, shall be established, and taken for undoubtful, true, sincere, and perfect ever hereafter…’
In summary the Act stated that the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer had judged that Katherine’s marriage to the King’s dead brother, Prince Arthur, Prince of Wales was legal and therefore Katherine and Henry could never have been correctly married in the eyes of God. The Act was necessary to enshrine Anne’s status in law and ensure that her children would inherit the crown from their father, the king.
Anne’s status is further supported by the text of the second Act of Succession in 1536, which refers to Anne Boleyn as ‘the late Queen Anne’.
Together with the above acts we must remember that Anne Boleyn had been solemnly anointed as Queen of England at her coronation at Westminster Abbey in June 1533. This procedure was seen as a sacred rite in which God directly appointed the individual to rule. In an age where the will of God was present in all aspects of life, what earthly judge or jury had the right to repeal or even think to question God’s will?
Therefore the brave woman that made the short journey from the Royal Apartments at the Tower of London towards the scaffold on Tower Green did so in the position to which, by the customs of the era God had placed her – Queen of England.
Alison Weir’s, The Lady in the Tower