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Anne Boleyn's Secret Portrait

Updated on May 20, 2015

Elizabeth I's Hidden Locket

There are so many images of Anne Boleyn available to us today, that it is hard for us to imagine a time when there were no pictures of her at all. Even her daughter, Elizabeth Tudor, would have had no pictures of her mother until she, herself, became queen. Elizabeth's father, Henry VIII, ordered all traces of Anne Boleyn's presence removed from his sight. No one was even allowed to speak her name. Some portraits did survive this purge of the memory of Anne Boleyn. Some paintings of Anne, hidden at her childhood home, Hever Castle, escaped Henry VIII's edict. A few of Anne's friends must have risked Henry VIII's wrath to preserve sketches of Anne Boleyn by Hans Holbein. It is assumed that Elizabeth commissioned paintings of her mother once she, herself, became queen.

Elizabeth always wore one particular ring. She never took it off. After she died, it was removed from her finger. To everyone's surprise, it was a locket ring. Unknown to her Ladies in Waiting, or even her closest friends, it contained two tiny portraits... one of Elizabeth and one of her mother, Anne Boleyn. One can picture Queen Elizabeth I, in the little privacy allowed a queen, opening the ring and gazing at the face of her mother. It is a side of Elizabeth I that is not recorded in history. What thoughts ran through Elizabeth I's mind, in those moments of quiet contemplation?

Anne Boleyn

Anne Boleyn, mother of Queen Elizabeth I, victim of Henry VIII
Anne Boleyn, mother of Queen Elizabeth I, victim of Henry VIII | Source

The Ring of Queen Elizabeth I

Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I
Anne Boleyn and Elizabeth I | Source

Anne Boleyn's True Face

Most people think of Queen Elizabeth in terms of strength, exuding authority and a royal presence unsurpassed by any other monarch, man or woman. Yet, we are privileged to get a glimpse into her heart and see her mother, the lovely Anne Boleyn, through the eyes of her daughter. The small Princess Elizabeth was not quite three years old when her mother held her for the last time, and kissed her goodbye. Many may think that Elizabeth was too young to remember, but, often, a traumatic, emotional memory will be vividly recalled, even by a child that young. While Elizabeth held these personal feelings inside, ever conscious of the need not to show a woman's softness to those who would view it as a weakness, we know now that Elizabeth deeply loved her mother, and she found secret ways to keep her memory of her mother alive.


Anne Boleyn and Princess Elizabeth

Seeing her precious little girl for the last time must have been painful for Anne Boleyn. It was surely traumatic for the three year old Princess Elizabeth. No one can know for sure if little Elizabeth remembered this pivotal moment in her life. It is said that a friend of Queen Anne witnessed this tender moment and told Elizabeth the story, when she was older.

The fact that Queen Elizabeth I kept the image of her mother close to her, for the rest of her life, reveals a tender affection beyond words.

The Tudors

Anne Boleyn


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    • Anne Harrison profile image

      Anne Harrison 

      3 years ago from Australia

      A fascinating story - I never knew of this ring of Queen Elizabeth's. Thankyou for sharing

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      I'm going to delete my hubpages account,I have no time to write articles here.But because this article of yours maybe interesting for my book,I suggested to keep in touch.I need help with references for my book,but we could much better discuss it privately due to the fact that nobody else is interested--hopefully they will be if the book comes out,but until then where I take my references from and only affects those from whom I take the references,nobody else..Don't you want to help?

    • profile image


      3 years ago

      Here you are: you and me are nearer each other's thoughts and findings than you might think.The only great difference is that originally you were more influenced by Tudor propaganda,reaching our present,while Shakespeare made me love Richard III,and I approached the question differently.But you add an evidence to my supposition:that Elizabeth,far from being a happy Tudor,naturally hated her father---and behind the seemingly tough 'facade',she secretly suffered because of this!--and she also knew that she inherited the crown from a line which started with a usurper-conqueror 'gradpa'(and a tragical grandmother who came from an illegitimate branch of the Yorks). she understood,but tolerated Shakespeare,because she secretly agreed and she wanted to end the Tudor line.This whole Richard-Tudor-Shakespeare problem is deeper and trickier than I thought myself when I started to deal with it


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