Linda’s Imagined Christmas speech for Queen Mary Tudor for

The official website for BBC History Magazine and BBC World Histories Magazine

Alternative Christmas speeches:

Elizabeth I – 25 December 1587 (by Tracy Borman)

Queen Matilda – Gloucester Castle, 25 December 1140 (by Dr Catherine Hanley)

Queen Anne – 25 December 1707 (by Dr Hannah Greig)


Mary Tudor – 25 December 1553 (by Linda Porter)

When Edward VI died of a lingering infection in July 1553, he left a will that altered the succession as it had been laid out by his father (Henry VIII) in the 1544 Act of Parliament. The 15-year-old king, on the threshold of assuming power in his own right, was determined that the religious changes he had introduced would not be undone by his Catholic half- sister, Mary, who had steadfastly disapproved of his Protestantism.

Edward decided to bar both Mary and his other half-sister, Elizabeth, from the succession, on the grounds that both their mothers had been divorced and they were therefore illegitimate. Instead, he nominated his cousin, Lady Jane Grey, as his heir. The Succession Crisis which followed took England to the brink of civil war as Mary fought for her throne. By Christmas 1553 Mary was crowned and established as England’s first queen regnant. Linda Porter believes that she would have had a ringing message at Christmas…


Right trusty and well-beloved, we send you our heartiest greetings for the season of Christmas. This is a time to reflect on what has been a year of marvels, for which we give thanks to God, who has placed us on the throne of England as your first sovereign lady.


We bring to mind another Christmas, that of 1536, when we rode with our father, King Henry VIII and his new wife, Queen Jane, through ice and snow to the palace of Greenwich. The furs that wrapped our body could not pierce the coldness lodged deep in our heart at the end of that terrible year. Our dearest mother, Queen Catherine, had died in January, to be followed only months later by that woman (whose name we desire never to hear spoken again) who had sinfully taken her place and whose execution, though we did not rejoice in it, yet did we believe it justified in the eyes of God and man. And though Queen Jane was ever kind to us, our father required us to submit utterly to his will, denying our mother’s lawful marriage, our title of princess and the authority of the Pope.


As a dutiful daughter should, we bowed, in much sorrow, to his will.


We have, with God’s help, survived the harsh restrictions and humiliations of our late brother, Edward VI’s, reign and grieve greatly for his loss. The more so because we, as his elder sister and godmother watched in despair as evil counsellors swayed his young mind against the true religion. After his untimely death this summer we fought, with the support of God and loyal subjects, for the Crown of England that is rightfully ours by the laws of this land. Our triumph has shown that true Englishmen will not be deceived by false arguments and pretended claimants to the throne.


Now the days for rejoicing are at hand. We have granted the request of our sister, Elizabeth, to leave court and pass the winter at her house of Ashridge in Hertfordshire but we embrace eagerly the company of our beloved cousin, Lady Margaret Douglas, who will join us at this merry time of masques, music and entertainment.


In the coming year we will do our duty as your queen and, against our inclination, take a husband, one who is suitable in birth and prestige. Be assured, however, that the choice of spouse is ours alone. We will brook no opposition, for we are Great Harry’s daughter. Those who foment rebellion or question our policies will feel the full force of the law.


Given at our palace of Richmond this 25th day of December, 1553.


Marye R