On this day, 8th February 1587, Mary Stuart, Queen of Scotland and Dowager Queen of France was led to her execution on a scaffold in Fotheringay Castle in Northamptonshire, hundreds of miles away both from Linlithgow Palace where she was born and also her beloved France. The unfortunate Queen had endured a terrible journey from the pampered luxury of her youth to her current dire situation and there are few historical personages who have suffered such devastating reversals of fortunate and appalling tragedy in such a relatively short space of time.
I’ve often been accused of being unsympathetic towards poor Queen Mary and I will admit that in my younger days I was rather dismissive of what I percieved to be her weakness of both character, morals and intellect as well as her stupid dependency on the awful men in her life. As I have aged, however, I have started to understand and sympathise with her a lot more and recognise that she was a victim not just of circumstance but also her own insecurities.
Things that I have in common with Mary, Queen of Scots:
1. We are both half Scottish.
2. We were both born in Scotland to a Scottish father and a foreign mother. In my case English, which isn’t half so romantic as French but you can’t have everything.
3. We have the same colouring: red hair, pale skin and hazel eyes. Sadly, I do not have her height though – Mary was almost 6′.
4. We both love France. I too have been known to hang on to the railings of ferries in a sorrowful manner while trying to catch my last glimpse of the French coast.
5. We both left Scotland for England as young women, never to return. I moved with my grandparents in rather boring circumstances though as opposed to Mary who fled in the dead of night.
6. Mary once visited Forres, the town where I was born. I expect she played golf there. She seemed to play a lot of golf.
7. I once spent the night in one of her beds in a town called Jedburgh on the Scottish borders. It was absolutely enormous! I was about eight at the time and my grandparents thought it would be an enormous treat for me to sleep in Queen Mary’s bed, although they were also slightly concerned that I would find it terribly creepy. They need not have worried: a fire alarm went off during the night and I was so comfy that I managed to sleep through it.
RIP Marie Stuart, Reine d’Ecosse et de France.