WCW: Catherine Parr


Queen Catherine Parr of England (1512-48) was the last of Henry VIII’s wives — she’s the “survived” wife, who outlived him. Her life story is particularly interesting and sadly often ignored in favor of the drama of Anne Boleyn. She was incredibly intelligent and well educated as well as a proponent of religious reform and what was to become Protestantism. She was the first English queen to publish a book under her own name. On the soap opera side, she was married twice and was reasonably happy but wasn’t in love with either guy. After her second husband’s death, she fell in love with Thomas Seymour but caught Henry VIII’s eye and essentially had to marry him.

Katherine Parr, attributed to Master John, c. 1545, National Portrait Gallery

Katherine Parr, attributed to Master John, c. 1545, National Portrait Gallery

Her marriage to Henry was a relatively happy one. She did a lot to bring Henry back together with his children and to promote religious reform. There was one stressful incident where she had been contradicting Henry on religion and was almost arrested, but she was given the heads up, managed to find Henry and spin things as “I was just asking a question so you could instruct me,” and thus saved herself.

After Henry’s death, she actually got to marry her true love, Thomas Seymour, only to have him turn out to be an asshole who sexually groomed and probably molested her ward, the future Queen Elizabeth I. Catherine became pregnant with Seymour’s child, but she died several days after childbirth (and her daughter didn’t live more than two years).

Miniature portrait of Katharine Parr by Lucas Horenbout via Wikimedia Commons

Miniature portrait of Katharine Parr by Lucas Horenbout via Wikimedia Commons

Let’s see who has portrayed this super interesting and super smart English queen on screen!


Everley Gregg in The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933)

I haven’t seen this one but I believe it’s a comedic take on the queen. Based on that, I’m guessing Parr is a nursemaid to old and gross Henry, which is the stereotype of her.

1933 The Private Life of Henry VIII 1933 The Private Life of Henry VIII


Sarah Churchill in A Queen’s Way (1953)

I’m confused what this still has to do with the Tudor period, but fun fact: the actress was Winston Churchill’s daughter!

1953 A Queen's Way

I guess puffy sleeves = ye oldey timey?


Deborah Kerr in Young Bess (1953)

The story focuses on the future Queen Elizabeth I as princess, and Kerr plays an elegant Catherine trapped in a love triangle with husband Thomas Seymour and the princess.

Young Bess

Kerr is beautiful despite the pointy boobs!

Deborah Kerr as Catherine Parr in Young Bess (1953) 1953 Young Bess
1953 Young Bess

Who could resist those tights?


Jana Brejchová in King and Women (1967)

A Czech film based on a play called “Catherine Parr, or Alexander’s Horse”… and that’s all I’ve got!

1967 King and Women

I guess Catherine liked her cat’s eye makeup relatively subtle?

1967 King and Women


Rosalie Crutchley in The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970)

Trystan calls this portrayal of Catherine “modest” and “mature.”

The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970)

This isn’t my favorite look…

The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970)

In full coronation robes… except Catherine wasn’t crowned?

The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970)
The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970)

This hat looks very German to me.

The Six Wives of Henry VIII (1970)


Rosalie Crutchley in Elizabeth R (1971)

I think she must be in a flashback scene, but I admit to not having watched this! I know!

1971 Elizabeth R



Barbara Leigh-Hunt in Henry VIII and His Six Wives (1972)

That’s right, Lady Catherine de Bourgh plays Catherine in a tiny, squeezed in bit at the end.

1972 Henry VIII and his Six Wives

The costumes in this are fabulous.

1972 Henry VIII and his Six Wives

Look! Biggins PLUS hat! (Although I’m not loving what Elizabeth has on her head)

1972 Henry VIII and His Six Wives

A beautiful gable hood.

1972 Henry VIII and His Six Wives 1972 Henry VIII and His Six Wives


Abigail Hopkins in Elizabeth (2000)

A David Starkey docu-drama about Queen Elizabeth I.

2000 Elizabeth


Jennifer Wigmore in The Royal Diaries: Elizabeth I: Red Rose of the House of Tudor (2000)

An adaptation of a Young Adult book that focuses on the future Queen Elizabeth I as a child.

2000 The Royal Diaries- Elizabeth I - Red Rose of the House of Tudor

I THINK that’s Parr on the right. Not sure what’s on her head. Or the lace sleeves?


Caroline Lintott in The Six Wives of Henry VIII (2001)

Another David Starkey docu-drama.

2001 The Six Wives of Henry VIII

Parr is bottom right.

2001 The Six Wives of Henry VIII 2001 The Six Wives of Henry VIII 2001 The Six Wives of Henry VIII


Clare Holman in Henry VIII (2003)

A crappy TV miniseries. It’s been a long time since I watched it, but as I can’t remember Parr in this, I’m guessing she’s an afterthought.

2003 Henry VIII

What’s up with that neckline?


Joely Richardson in The Tudors (2010)

I’ve never made it into the Parr years of this shlocky TV series. All I know is Richardson as Parr seems to rock the side ponytails a lot, and that confuses me.

2010 The Tudors

A book! She’s intellectual!

2010 The Tudors

Well this is shitty.

2010 The Tudors


2010 The Tudors


Alice Patten in Lucy Worsley’s “Six Wives” (2016)

A Lucy Worsley docu-drama, and one of the best! Parr’s intellectual side is portrayed, but sadly not her life post-Henry.

Lucy Worsley's "Six Wives" (2016)

This hood is beautiful, although I feel like it’s too big.

Lucy Worsley's "Six Wives" (2016)
Lucy Worsley's "Six Wives" (2016)

Not the best French hood in the world, but the jewelry is nice!

Lucy Worsley's "Six Wives" (2016)

Taking care of Henry (sung to the tune of “Taking Care of Business”) | Courtesy: Everett Collection PBS

Lucy Worsley's "Six Wives" (2016)


Kate Holderness in The Six Queens of Henry VIII (2016)

Another docu-drama, this one by Susannah Lipscomb and Dan Snow. I haven’t seen it!

2016 The Six Queens of Henry VIII

I think that’s a veil, not hair? I sure hope so.


Jessica Raine in Becoming Elizabeth (2022)

This recent series portrays Parr as sex-crazed and head over heels in love with her douchebag husband.

2022 Becoming Elizabeth
Becoming Elizabeth (2022)

Nice partlet!

Becoming Elizabeth (2022)


Alicia Vikander in Firebrand (upcoming)

This film will focus on Parr, and I have hopes it will get her right!

Firebrand, behind-the-scenes, from Twitter

THAT is an excellent French hood!


Which is your favorite portrayal of Catherine Parr on screen?

23 Responses

  1. Boxermom

    I love the Lucy Worsley version (big surprise). I completely forgot about Joely Richardson; then again, I’ve tried to block that whole fiasco out of my mind. :)

  2. M

    Re. Jessica Raine: So Jane Parker/Lady Rochford became Catherine Parr? I thought she looked strangely familiar. Will there be a Lady Rochford WCW? Supposedly, she’s been misjudged by most histories histories and novels (although her conduct as Katherine Howard’s confidante does give one pause).

      • M.E. Lawrence

        Hard/impossible to analyze people at this distance in time, but–histrionic personality disorder, something like that? She seemed to be getting off on the drama of it all.

  3. Roxana

    Like Chaucer’s Wife of Bath Katherine had good, old husbands then married a hot man who made her unhappy. Imagine how bad a man has to be to make Henry VIII look like the better marital choice!

  4. Alys

    My movie watch group recently watched The Private Life of Henry VIII (1933), figuring it would be a fun piece of movie history. It was actually rather disturbing, as they depict Katherine Howard as a scheming adult vixen who seduced Henry. All of us know a little too much actual history (Katherine was a painfully young teenager) to be comfortable with that. It’s an interesting snapshot of 1930s culture but not worth the creepy feelings.

    • Saraquill

      Likewise, the 1953 movie sounds gross. Elizabeth was underage and the twit was her stepdad! No way should that be portrayed as part of a love triangle.

    • Roxana

      I know Private Life is all wrong historically but it is quite funny except for the tragic storyline of Katherine Howard.

  5. Brandy Loutherback

    I certainly hope Firebrand does Catherine Parr justice, after the Becoming Elizabeth fiasco, also after the horrible Tudors debacle. Have you read Alison Weir’s take on the Six Wives? You can tell she did her reasearch! She focused on the wives both pre and post Henry VIII!

    • Kendra

      Definitely read Weir! My favorite take on the wives is Karen Lindsey’s “Divorced, Beheaded, Died.” A very interesting feminist interpretation, particularly of Anne Boleyn. Her argument is basically that Anne was being sexually harassed and wasn’t all that into Henry.

      • Jennifer Schillig

        Love that book! I think it was also where I first found the interpretation that Anne of Cleves was NOT unattractive (many contemporary sources described her as being good-looking if not a raving beauty, and it’s telling that Henry never punished Hans Holbein for misrepresenting her), but Henry rejected her because she reacted to him as the overweight middle-aged man he was instead of the handsome young swain he imagined himself to be. After all…he described her as fat, unattractive, and smelly. Now who else would those adjectives apply to?

    • M.E. Lawrence

      I admire Antonia Fraser’s “The Six Wives of Henry VIII”: well researched, well balanced.


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