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King Edward VI of England – Royal Portrait

Edward VI of England - National Portrait Gallery, London

King Edward VI of England – Portrait

This portrait of King Edward VI of England shows Edward in a wide-legged pose that mimics his father Henry VIII famous pictures where he stands with his feet and hands similarly positioned.

The portrait was started when Edward was a prince and completed after he became King with the addition of his coat of arms in the top left.

Edward VI (1537 – 1553) was King of England and Ireland for six years, from 1547 until his death. He was crowned at the age of nine and was the son of Henry VIII and Jane Seymour.

It was during Edward’s reign that Protestantism was established in England with reforms that included the abolition of clerical celibacy and the Mass and the imposition of compulsory services in English.

At age 15, Edward fell ill, and he named his first cousin once removed, Lady Jane Grey, as his heir and excluded his half-sisters, Mary and Elizabeth.

This decision was disputed following Edward’s death, and Jane was deposed by Mary nine days after becoming queen. During her reign, Mary reversed Edward’s Protestant reforms; however, under Elizabeth, the changes were confirmed.

Edward VI has been depicted in popular culture. One example is his fictional portrayal as the central character in Mark Twain’s novel “The Prince and the Pauper”, where the young prince and a pauper boy, deliberately exchange places. This novel has been dramatised in various movies and television versions.

Fascinating Facts about King Edward VI of England

  • Edward was born in 1537 at Hampton, Court Palace.
  • Edward was King Henry’s only legitimate son.
  • Edward’s mother was Henry’s third wife, Jane Seymour.
  • Edward’s mother died a few days after his birth.
  • At the time of Edward’s birth, Henry was already 46 years old.
  • Edward had two older half-sisters: Mary, the daughter of Henry’s first wife Catherine of Aragon, and Elizabeth, the daughter of Henry’s second wife, Anne Boleyn.
  • Edward’s godmother was his 21-year-old half-sister, Mary Tudor.
  • Henry acknowledged one illegitimate child, Henry Fitzroy, the son of his mistress Elizabeth Blount, and granted him a dukedom.
  • Henry is suspected of having six other unacknowledged and illegitimate children, including Catherine and Henry Carey, the children of Anne’s sister, Mary Boleyn.
  • From the age of six, Edward was educated in philosophy, theology, the sciences, French, Spanish, and Italian.
  • Henry VIII signed a Treaty with the Scots to unite the two kingdoms which included the betrothal between six-year-old Edward and the seven-month old Mary, Queen of Scots.
  • Edward and his sister Elizabeth were together when they were informed of their father’s death, and they cried into each other’s arms.
  • Edward became King at the age of nine when his father Henry VIII died.
  • He was crowned at Westminster Abbey four days after his father’s death.
  • At Edward’s coronation, Archbishop Thomas Cranmer declared Edward to be the “Second Josiah.”
  • Edward was caught in the middle of a power struggle between his two uncles, Lord Protector Edward Seymour and his younger brother Lord Thomas Seymour.
  • On his deathbed, Edward skipped over his sisters to give the throne to his first cousin once removed, Lady Jane Grey
  • Edward died from a lung infection, most likely tuberculosis.
  • Jane Grey was resisted, by Edward’s sister Mary who challenged Jane’s accession, which is why Jane is the “Nine Days Queen”.
  • When Edward’s half-sister Elizabeth I ascended to the throne in 1558, her religious policies built upon the foundations left by Edward VI.

King Edward VI of England

  • Title:               King Edward VI of England
  • Artist:             The workshop associated with Master John
  • Date:              1547
  • Medium:        Oil on panel
  • Museum:        National Portrait Gallery, London

The Child Who Became King | Edward VI of England

Highlights of the National Portrait Gallery, London

Explore London’s Museums and Heritage Sites

Conserving a portrait of King Edward VI

Edward VI (1547 – 1553) History


“It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”
– William Shakespeare


Photo Credit: JOM

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