“What makes a bad mother? She’s the queen, for God’s sake. It’s hard to be a queen and a mother. She was incredibly fond of her children. You know that she loves them but she’s got nine of them. It’s hard to give nine the attention you would give two.
“The bad mother thing is just something people say. I think they’re wrong. She did her best. She was trying to prepare them for the world outside.”
Tracy Borman, Tudor historian and author of Henry VIII and the Men Who Made Him, agreed that queens have received more criticism than kings when it comes to raising children.
She said: “It’s slightly unfair to draw direct parallels between modern and historical parenting – by either gender – because traditions, beliefs and standards have changed so much. Most parents today would throw their hands up in horror at royal parenting in the past, which involved packing off their offspring to a separate establishment at three months old, rarely to be seen by either parent thereafter.
“But it is interesting that royal mothers have come in for more criticism than fathers. Henry VIII was certainly not a shining example of parenting: he declared both of his daughters bastards after divorcing one of their mothers and executing the other.
“Even his ‘precious jewel’ of a son, the future Edward VI, grew up knowing his father as only a distant figure whom he generally only saw on high days and holidays. Little wonder that upon hearing of Henry VIII’s death in January 1547, Edward – then nine years old – afforded it only a cursory mention in his diary.”