Edward died on July 6th. Mary, on her way to Greenwich, was warned of the trap and rode pell mell for Norfolk. Elizabeth stayed in bed. The King’s death was kept quiet and on July 9th Jane was taken to Northumberland’s mansion outside London, Syon House at Isleworth, where the Duke, her husband and her parents were waiting with members of the council, who to her surprise treated her with immense deference. Northumberland announced that she was queen and she fainted before, with the utmost reluctance, accepting the throne ‘if what has been given to me is lawfully mine’. The following day she was proclaimed by heralds with flourishes of trumpets at various places in London, to the stony disapproval of the citizens. One man who incautiously said the Lady Mary had the better right had his ears cut off.
In the afternoon Jane arrived by barge at the Tower, tried on the royal crown, which made her feel faint again, and had a blazing row with her husband and his mother when she said she would not make him king. The banquet that evening was spoiled by the arrival of a letter from Mary to the council firmly asserting her right to the throne and demanding immediate support.
Jane continued going through the motions as queen in the Tower, but Northumberland had miscalculated badly. The Lady Mary was well liked (she had not burned anyone yet) and he was not. Mary’s support grew and she gathered a sizeable army, while Northumberland’s men deserted. So did the council in London. By July 18th only three of them – including Jane’s father – remained loyal to Northumberland. The others left the Tower on the improbable excuse of urgently needing to talk to the French ambassador and had the lord mayor of London proclaim Mary next day. Her father told Jane she was no longer queen and she said she was delighted to hear it and could she go home, please?
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Image credit: The Crown Offered to Lady Jane Grey, as imagined in the 1820s: Guildford and Jane are in the centre