Henry VIII was a 'serial monogamist'

Rebecca Lewis
Portrait of the Henry VIII by Hans Holbein the Younger (British Library/ PA Wire)

Henry VIII's womanising reputation is ill-deserved - all he wanted to do was to settle down with a good woman.

At least that's what TV historian Dr Lucy Worsley claims.

Henry VIII - perhaps best known for his six wives - was in fact "a serial monogamist" who simply yearned for a son, according to Dr Worsley.

Dr Worsley, who is presenting a new BBC documentary, Tales From The Royal Bedchamber, tells the Radio Times: "All this attention on Henry VIII's sex life! People do think of him as this consumer of women, a kind of Bluebeard ogre-adulterer."







"But really, he didn't have all that many mistresses - not, for example, compared to his contemporary, Francis I of France.

"I think that each time Henry really wanted to devote himself to one woman, but it just didn't work out that way. And the children issue was a large part of that. If Catherine of Aragon had given him a son, he would probably have been happy."



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Dr Worsley, whose previous shows include 'Antiques Uncovered' and 'Inside the World of Henry VIII', also casts her eyes over modern-day royalty, revealing the Duchess of Cambridge was spared much embarrassment during the birth of Prince George of Cambridge compared to previous royal births.

She explains: "In the 17th century, the mother of an heir to the throne was required to give birth in front of an enormous number of witnesses. There might be 40 dignitaries invited into the bedchamber to watch!

"The birth of the current Queen was the last remnant of that tradition. The infant Elizabeth was only third in line to the throne, but the home secretary still had to come to the house for the birth. I don't believe he was in the bedchamber, but he had to set eyes on the baby before he could formally inform Parliament she had been born."

Dr Worsley says of the arrival of Prince George: "Obviously there's a huge amount of interest today, but in a sense the stakes are lower. Because until relatively recently in the history of the monarchy, a royal baby would have been viewed as the physical embodiment of the nation."


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The TV historian also touches on other bedchambers - claiming the sleeping arrangements of the current royal family are kept much more private compared to kings and queens of the past.



She tells the magazine: "You can see a bed in which the Queen slept on the royal yacht Britannia. It's just a low, white, single bed.

"And pictures were recently released of the dormitory bunk where Prince William sleeps when he's on helicopter duties on Anglesey.

"Part of me thinks it's quite clever, keeping pace with the lives of your subjects, fitting in with what people might experience in their own lives. But then, you look at the great state beds of the past and you think 'How are the mighty fallen'."