On this day in 1553, nine-year-old King Edward VI, only son of Henry VIII, died, and Henry's great niece, Lady Jane Grey, became queen. She was 15 years old, a newlywed. She and Lord Guildford Dudley were married six weeks previously. Lady Jane reigned only nine days. Both she and Dudley were beheaded by Queen Mary for treason, February 12, 1554.
Jane Grey is reported to have been a lovely girl brought up by strict, even cruel, parents. Her only pleasure was in her studies. Her destiny was decided by others, though she seems to have truly loved her husband. Their deaths were mourned and their execution condemned.
Even 300 years later, Frances Rolleston planted an acorn, which she picked up in Guildford Park, in Lady Jane's memory.
Today is the anniversary of the 1863 wedding of Edward VII, Queen Victoria's eldest son. Frances Rolleston was apparently lacking in enthusiasm for the celebrations that accompanied it.
For one thing, she was working hard (at age 82) for those suffering in the cotton famine (more about that in an earlier blog) and the celebrations were a distraction:
The outrageous folly of the world about the royal marriage has, I fear, given a great check to what was doing for the cotton sufferers.
She refused to donate toward the celebrations—especially the "fire-works," giving what she could instead to the suffering poor who had no share in the dinner, tea and other doings.
I am just now very much interested in opposing the use of fire-works to celebrate the princely marriage. What, when so many are starving, I say to the Keswickers, will you let the committee lay out, as they talk of, £20 in fire-works? What good do they do? Harm they often do.
She goes on to tell the story of a boy, friend of her brother, who was killed by a fire-work.
When the marriage was actually celebrated with fireworks, Frances was much more interested in the fact that the constellation Orion "shone through and beyond the wedding fireworks."