I’m still trembling from the horrific event that I just witnessed, but I’ll do my best to describe the scene. I owe it to Her Grace to let the world know how bravely she met her end. I came to the Tower early this morning in order to get a spot close to the scaffold -not because I wanted lo see Queen Anne die, but because I wanted her to see at least one sympathetic face amongst her tormentors. Around 9:00 am a murmer arose from the crowd, beginning with those witnesses nearest to the Coldharbour Gate and continuing along the line of spectators. I instinctively craned my neck towards the direction that the noise was coming from, and then I saw the procession making its way towards the scaffold.
I didn’t see the Queen at first – there was a large contingent of Yeomen of the King’s Guard leading the procession, followed by the officers of the Tower, but then I saw her, holding the arm of Master Kingston. I have see Queen Anne many times around Court, but I have never seen her look more beautiful than she did this morning. She looked every inch the Queen, with a beautiful grey dress with a red kirtle. I wondered if she was trying to proclaim her innocence by wearing red, the color of martyrdom, or if this detail was lost on everyone but me …. The Queen climbed the scaffold steps, assisted by Master Kingston. I was surprised to see how serene she appeared – she looked so cheerful, not at all like one who was going to die! Then she stood upon the scaffold and looked out at the crowd. Our eyes met, and I saw a glimpse of recognition in her eyes. Her Grace stood up straight, and gave the most amazing speech that I have ever heard. She admitted that she died according to the law and asked people to pray for the King and for her, but never did she admit her guilt.
When she was finished speaking she bared her neck, and then removed her headdress, putting on a white linen cap. I noticed the executioner walk over and speak to the Queen, then she knelt in the straw. She moved her lips as if in prayer, and for the first time I noticed how terrified she was. I was watching the Queen so intently that I didn’t notice the executioner approaching with the sword – it happened so suddenly – there was a flash of the sword and a rush of blood and the Queen’s head fell to the ground. I wasn’t expecting what I saw next, and it so terrified me that it will remain with me for the rest of my days – her lips kept moving as if she was still praying, and her eyes were twitching! I know thait I will always remember this day, and l’m sure that people will still be discussing Queen Anne 500 years in the future.
By Nancy Smith