On this day, February 12, in 1554, Lady Jane Grey was executed. She’s best known as the ‘Nine Days Queen,’ having been proclaimed Queen of England soon after the death of her first cousin, once removed, Edward VI of England. It was a political ploy because Edward’s half-sister Mary Tudor was Catholic, while Jane was a Protestant like Edward.
Of Jane Grey’s life, much has been speculated and little is known. She was well educated, that is true, and she was devout in the new religion, having disdain for the Catholic mass. Her marriage to Lord Guildford Dudley on May 25, 1553, was arranged by John Dudley, 1st Duke of Northumberland. While Jane and Guildford probably didn’t know much about each other before marrying, such deals were not uncommon for this period and class level. Like Jane, he was also a serious Protestant.
Lady Jane Grey was never officially crowned, and her so-called reign lasted from only July 10, 1553, to July 19, 1553, when Mary Tudor entered London and the Privy Council swore allegiance to her. Jane was tried and convicted of treason in November, and Queen Mary pondered Jane’s sentence for a little while. However, the participation of Jane’s father in a rebellion in January sealed her fate. Execution made Jane something of a Protestant martyr in later years, and a fascinating subject for frock flicks too.
Nova Pilbeam in Tudor Rose aka Nine Days a Queen (1936)
Anne Howard in The Prince and the Pauper (1937)
Jane Asher in The Prince and the Pauper (1962)
Sarah Frampton in Elizabeth R (1971)
Felicity Dean in Crossed Swords (1977)
Helena Bonham Carter in Lady Jane (1986)
Sophia Myles in The Prince and the Pauper (1996)
Perdita Weeks in The Prince and the Pauper (2000)
Amber Beattie in The Sarah Jane Adventures, “Lost in Time” (2010)
Which is your favorite Lady Jane Grey on screen? Is there another one we’ve missed?