The Joy of Museums

Finding Beauty & Meaning in Museums

King Edward VI of England

Edward VI of England - Joy of Museums - National Portrait Gallery, London

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.

Edward VI of England - Joy of Museums - National Portrait Gallery, London - 2

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”, in which the young prince and a pauper boy, deliberately exchange places. This novel has been dramatised in various movies and television versions.


Essential Facts:

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


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



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