Today in 1547, on what would have been his father’s 90th birthday, Henry VIII died at Whitehall Palace in London.
It was, at the time, treason to predict the King’s death and so – despite Henry being on his death bed – his doctors did not tell him that his death was imminent. Although the day before he died he did take Holy Communion. Henry’s last known words were summoning Archbiship Cranmer to his bedside, but when Cranmer finally arrived at just past midnight on the 28th January, King was unable to speak.
He died at around 2am that morning.
For the next two days, Henry’s death remained a secret and his body was kept as it was in his chambers. I can only imagine how smelly that got. But on 31st January, Wriothesley announced his death, and on the same day Edward VI was proclaimed as King.
King Henry VIII was interred in the St George’s Chapel at Windsor castle, carried by sixteen yeoman of the guard.
Despite the simple stone slab that you can see today, Henry had planned for a magnificent tomb to be built for his grave marker. As with most things, Henry had taken this from Wolsey after the Cardinal’s fall – yet the work was never completed. And what there was left of it was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell during the English Civil War
These days, Henry is resting beneath a stone slab within St George’s Chapel – he rests alongside others such as his wife Jane Seymour, and the beheaded King Charles I.
Rest in Peace, Henry. It can’t be denied that because of you the world in which we live today wouldn’t be the same. I salute you, Sir.