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On This Day… The Queen Who Ruled For Only Nine Days

Written by: George Chittenden : 20 May 2019

It was on this day, 10th July back in 1553 when Lady Jane Grey became the de facto Queen of England and Ireland when she was proclaimed Queen by the Lords of the Council. Who’s this Lady Jane Grey? I hear you ask. Well she was the great-granddaughter of Henry VII through his younger daughter, Mary, and she ruled for the shortest period in British history, only nine days! Not a huge amount is known about her and we don’t even know for sure what she looked like as she is the only English monarch in the last 500 years of whom no proven contemporary portrait survives.

Lady Jane Grey

Lady Jane Grey

So how did she end up on the throne? Well, when her first cousin once removed Edward VI died he nominated her successor to the Crown because she was protestant and would support the reformed Church of England, of which he favoured. His will named his half-sisters Mary and Elizabeth illegitimate and removed them from succession. However, whilst Jane awaited her coronation support for Mary grew rapidly and Jane’s supporters switched sides, including the Privy Council. Unfortunately for poor Jane, Mary was proclaimed Queen on July 19th, 1553. So, what happened to Jane Grey? You’ve guessed it, this story doesn’t have a happy ending. She was held as a prisoner at the Tower of London and was convicted of high treason in November 1553. On February 12th, 1554 she was executed, alongside her husband Lord Guildford Dudley.

The Tower of London

The Tower of London

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