Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ll know that last week saw the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Whatever your views on the modern monarchy, I think it’s fair to say that ol’ Liz certainly spent her 70 years on the throne, reigning with unparalleled devotion and duty.
As we spend most of our time here discussing the macabre, I thought it best that this week’s case file focus on the ghosty monarchs who came before the late Queen.
So, with all the pleasantries out of the way let’s explore the top three royal ghosts who’s unearthly spirits still roam the grounds and gardens of the UK’s towers and palaces.
Given she is known as the second of Henry VIII unlucky wives, it’s no wonder the spirit of Anne Boleyn is said to haunt a handful of the places she stayed in life. Most notably, the former queen is said to haunt the Tower of London, where she was imprisoned and beheaded.
Being accused – and later found guilty – of adultery, incest, and plotting to kill the king, Anne was imprisoned in the Tower during her trial and up until her eventual execution. With modern eye’s we can safely say she was likely innocent of these supposed crimes, and was offed due to her inability to conceive a son to inherit the throne. Perhaps its poetic justice to consider her only child and daughter, Elizabeth, went on to become one of England’s most influential monarchs.
Much like her cultural impact, Anne Boleyn’s spectre is also thought to live on, and she has been seen standing at windows of Windsor Castle, and roaming the halls of Hampton Court, headless.
Her ghost is mostly seen in and around the Tower of London, where she has been reported to lead ghostly precessions of knights and ladies through the Chapel Royal.
Most reports seem to be residual in nature and given her tumultuous life and death, those prone to belief in the paranormal may agree that a psychic imprint could have been left behind, to play out again and again inside the walls of the tower.
The Princes in the Tower
One of the most fascinating tales of medieval Britain is that of the Princes in the Tower. Although it’s still officially considered a ‘mystery’, the fate of Edward IV young sons, Edward V and Richard likely ended in murder.
Upon the death of Ed IV, his oldest son, 12 year old Edward, was declared king, and he and his younger brother were placed under protection of their uncle, the Duke of Gloucester. However, as the Duke is better known as Richard III, this did not bode well for the young brothers. Richard, intent on taking the crown for himself, declared both boys illegitimate and named himself as king. The boy’s were kept in the Tower of London, where they promptly disappeared from history.
Rumours abound that King Richard had these threats to his crown murdered, but the claims was shrouded in mystery until the skeletons of two children – aged approximately 9 and twelve – were discovered under a staircase in the Tower. The bones are interred in Westminster Abby, and have yet to undergo any recent scientific testing to prove conclusively that the young princes have been found.
Never the less, it has been told that the ghosts of the two children in nightgowns have been spotted since the 15th century, occasionally crying and holding each other.
Returning to the unlucky wives of Henry VIII, it seems number five, Catherine Howard, is also said to roam the earth in death.
In a similar pattern to Anne Boleyn, Catherine was tried for treason and adultery and was promptly beheaded. She was arrested in Hampton Court in 1541, and famously escaped the guards and ran screaming through the halls, to beg the king for forgiveness. Being swiftly apprehended, she was arrested and sent to the Tower of London, to await her execution.
Since this incident, guests and visitors have heard her screams echoing down the hall of what if now known as the Haunted Gallery. Other visitors are said to have experienced cold chills and bizarre sensations in and around the gallery.
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