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Last week, I reviewed the World War II film A Call to Spy. Tina reviewed The Last Girl to Die by Helen Fields, an author she liked due to previously reading her mystery series. The Last Girl to Die is a stand-alone mystery and Tina liked it as well.
Before watching this 1986 film, I didn’t know much about Lady Jane Grey (and had a bad habit of confusing her with Jane Seymour, Henry VIII’s third wife).
Lady Jane Grey was a member of the House of Tudor, a great-granddaughter of Henry VII, a great-niece to Henry VIII.
When Henry VIII died, his son Edward VI was crowned king at age nine. The governance of England was handled by a Regency Council. By the time of the events in this story, Edward’s Regency Council was led by John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland.
If all had gone to plan, Edward would have grown to adulthood and had children to inherit the throne.
Instead, Edward grew ill at age 15. According to the succession outlined in Henry VIII’s will, Edward’s half-sisters Mary and Elizabeth were the next two in line for the throne. Their cousin, Lady Jane Grey, was fourth in line. The problem, in 1553, when Edward lay dying, was that Mary was Roman Catholic. Edward, the Duke of Northumberland, and many other people in power (including Lady Jane’s parents) preferred their new Protestant religion and were opposed to a Catholic queen.
Citing illegitimacy as an excuse, Edward VI, on the advice of his Regency Council, dismissed his half-sisters as heirs and wrote a succession plan that named his cousin-once-removed, Lady Jane Grey as his successor.
I really enjoyed the film Lady Jane which helped cement the history of her brief and disputed accession to the throne in my mind. The fun part, though, is probably fiction.
Helena Bonham Carter plays Lady Jane in her first lead film role (although Lady Jane was released a couple of months after A Room with a View, Lady Jane was filmed first). Her portrayal is of a young studious woman with high ideals and a deep love for her husband. The studious part is apparently true. The idealism and romance seem appropriate to their teenage characters, but I don’t know how historical that is.
Cary Elwes plays her husband, Guilford Dudley, a year before he would star in A Princess Bride (and many years before he had the romantic male lead in last year’s holiday rom-com, A Castle for Christmas). They make a beautiful young royal couple in this film.
The Kent Film Office details some of the filming locations for Lady Jane, including three castles in Kent — Leeds, Hever, and Dover.
Have you seen this film? What did you think?