Chapter 10 : Queen of England
James was determined that his wife should be suitably dressed and ornamented for her entry into her new realm, and requested the English Privy Council to send her suitable jewels and clothes from the late Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe. Fearing that this was an attempt on the part of the Scots to steal the crown jewels of England, they refused.
Astonished, James explained that he was not expecting the crown to travel to Scotland, just suitable gowns and jewellery for every day wear, as Anne was to join him in London. In addition, he wanted some of the court ladies to travel north to meet their new queen. On this reassurance, suitable items were dispatched – although the Keeper of the Wardrobe later had cause to regret his refusal, when he lost his job.
In early June, Anne set out. She was still fuming at Mar, and James received a letter from Lord Montrose warning him that Anne had not abated her anger – he felt James should know, lest it cause ‘unexpected tortures [problems]’ and create a ‘canker’ at the heart of the court.
Sir Robert Cecil, who had retained his post as the monarch’s chief minister, arranged for six senior noblewomen and two maids-of-honour to meet the Queen at Berwick. These included the Countesses of Kildare and Worcester; Penelope, Lady Rich; Lady Scrope and Lady Walsingham. Some of the other court ladies, not sent officially, stole a march on the official group and rushed on to Edinburgh to try to gain influence with Anne at an early stage. Amongst these bold ladies was Lucy Russell (nee Harington), Countess of Bedford and her mother. Lady Bedford rapidly became Anne’s closest friend and companion in England, with her next favourite being Lady Rich.
Anne travelled slowly south – it was noted that she was more able to engage the public than James had been, and her progress was considered to be very successful, particularly by Cecil’s half-brother, Lord Burghley, who was Lord President of the Council of the North. By 10th June she was at the King’s Manor in York, where she made a good impression when she asked to join the Lord Mayor’s wife in a drink, expressing a preference for beer. She also pleased Lord Burghley by her refusal to receive some of the noted Catholics in the North.
Despite this success, Anne and James were still quarrelling. She wanted to retain her Scottish Chamberlain, Lord Kennedy, and his wife as her chief Lady-in-Waiting. James had already appointed Sir George Carew as Chamberlain, but Anne refused to accept him. Matters came to a head when Kennedy travelled to London to be confirmed in his position by the King. James swore at him (he was notorious for his bad language) and threatened that, if he ever saw Kennedy with the staff of the Chamberlain in his hand, he would break it over the luckless man’s head. Kennedy withdrew to Scotland to let the royal couple settle their differences without him.
Anne left York on 15th June, travelling on to Worksop, Newark, Nottingham and Dingley. At Nottingham, she was obliged to part with Princess Elizabeth. James had again decreed that his daughter should be placed in the care of others – in this case, Lady Harington, the Countess of Bedford’s mother.
Other ladies who greeted Anne were Lady Anne Clifford, daughter of the Earl of Cumberland, her mother, and her aunt, the Dowager Countess of Warwick. According to Lady Anne’s journal, the Queen kissed them all and ‘used us kindly.’ It was apparent already that Lady Bedford was to be pre-eminent amongst all the ladies.
Further entertainments and visits followed and James came to meet his wife and son at the home of Sir Hatton Fermor, at Easton Neston in Northamptonshire, whence the royal pair continued slowly back to London.
Although she had won praise from Lord Burghley, there were complaints that Anne favoured the young women of the court, rather than those who had been Elizabeth’s friends – perhaps not that surprising as she was only twenty-eight, and Elizabeth’s ladies were at least a generation older than her. It was, however, seen as a mark of frivolity.
Eventually, the court arrived at Windsor, where, on 2nd July, Prince Henry was admitted to the Order of the Garter, along with Anne’s brother, King Christian IV of Denmark, and Francis, Duke of Wurttemberg – the former by proxy, the latter in person. Unfortunately, whilst at Windsor, Anne got into another argument with James. She had criticised the late of Earl of Essex, which offended the Earl of Southampton, who had been Essex’ friend, and had only just been released from the Tower. Lord Grey took Southampton’s sharp response to the Queen as an insult to himself, and the pair began to quarrel.
James and the Council lectured both men, and sent them to the Tower for a few days before releasing them back into his good graces. Anne was offended that James would receive someone who had spoken rudely to her, and sent him a stiff letter, addressing him as ‘Sir’ rather than their customary greeting of ‘Dear Heart.’ Princess Elizabeth had rejoined her family for the ceremonies at Windsor.
The coronation was scheduled for 25th July, St James’ Day, and was to be the first joint coronation since that of Henry VIII and Katharine of Aragon nearly a hundred years before. A serious outbreak of plague required festivities to be kept to a minimum, including the cancelling of the customary procession through the City from the Tower of London. Instead, the only procession was between Westminster Hall and the Abbey.
The ceremony was performed by John Whitgift, Archbishop of Canterbury, and serious criticism of Anne was ignited when she refuse to receive Communion during the Coronation in accordance with the rites of the Church of England. This immediately gave fuel to the previous rumours that she was, if not actually a secret Catholic, certainly tending in that direction.