Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lady Jane 1986- Nine Day Queen

Lady Jane 1986 with Helena Bonham Carter and Carey Elwes
Lady Jane is a lovely film (fairly historically inaccurate if that bothers you) about Lady Jane Grey, a cousin of the children of King Henry VIII who actually sat on the throne for 9 days after the death of King Edward VI (the sickly teen and only son of Henry VIII). She had been placed on the throne by her father-in-law John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland in order to continue the Protestant Reformation but was quickly booted off the throne by her cousin Queen Mary I (Bloody Mary) who had all of the remaining Catholics in England behind her.

A young Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Jane Grey

Helena Bonham Carter was a mere 20 years old when this was released, so she looks quite convincing as the tiny 16 year old Lady Jane. Carey Elwes ("As you wish!") is adorable as Guilford Dudley although he starts out as a drunk, gambling good-for-nothing who must be plucked from a brothel in order to marry the virtuous Lady Jane. Don't worry, it all turns out well...and then of course they get sent to the Tower of London, but you expected that didn't you?

Lady Jane and Guilford Dudley tumbling in the meadows

In between the forced marriage and their heads being chopped off, there is a wonderful love story, embellished for the historical chick flick that it is, but mostly based in history. Notice I did say mostly for those who are well versed in the history of the Tudor era. OK, so there is no evidence of her being in love with Guilford Dudley. And there is no basis for the storyline about her minting a new shilling. Boy would that be a valuable coin! Also there's no proof of the couple attempting social reform. But heck, it's a movie and the love story makes me go all gooey! The scene where Jane is clomping around in Guilfords boots is adorable and I am OK with it not being historically accurate. I also doubt that they smashed all of their wedding crystal, but...can we call it artistic license?

Helena Bonham Carter as Lady Jane Grey- before Bellatrix Lestrange!

Let's just say that you have been forewarned that liberties with history have been taken.

Lady Jane and Guilford Dudley-are we happy yet?
So now, for the true history lovers. Below we have the only purported portrait of Lady Jane Grey. The story behind the portrait is here if you want to read it. All other images were apparently painted so long after she was executed that there is no hope of them being a good likeness. She apparently had reddish blond hair as in the picture below, and Guilford was a good looking blond youth by all accounts, although slightly spoilt by his mother.

The film recreates the execution accurately with the tiny 16 year old girl groping for the executioners block saying "Where is it? What do I do?" The poor dear young girl!

Her last words were unfortunately changed.  In the film, she whimpers: "Guilford!" In real life, she said loudly and with great dignity: "Lord, into thy hands I commend my spirit."

Lady JaneLady Jane Grey: A Tudor Mystery (Tudor Mysteries)Innocent Traitor: A Novel of Lady Jane GreyThe Sisters Who Would Be Queen: Mary, Katherine, and Lady Jane Grey: A Tudor TragedyNine Days a Queen: The Short Life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey


  1. I LOVE this movie!!! I think it always why I still have a soft spot for Carey Elwes! :)

  2. Glad I'm not the only one! Carey Elwes is adorable isn't he? Every bit as cute as he was in Princess Bride. And Helena Bonham Carter is always fun to watch, whether she is a witch or a Queen!

  3. I loved this movie when I saw it years and years ago, and have been meaning to rewatch for years and years :)

    I actually think it's one of Helena B-C's best roles, and while I usually have a big problem with history rewrites, I forgive this movie because they did so much with so little.

  4. Hi Jane

    I'm with you. I think I like this version of history better than the reality (which as you pointed out is scant).

  5. Not sure why, but this is my favourite movie of all time. I think I watched it when I was quite young and related to Jane, probably up until the end (which is heart breaking). There's an amazing painting in the National Gallery in London by Paul Delaroche that also depicts her last moments. You've written a wonderful synoposis.

  6. I’m disappointed to learn that the social reform intentions of the couple were inaccurate




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