Vatican gets all prissy over Anne Boleyn's 'pritty duckys'

Vatican gets all prissy over Anne Boleyn's 'pritty duckys' November 27, 2016

The Vatican has reportedly denied the BBC permission to film a letter written by Henry VIII to his sweetheart because it refers to his kissing Bolyn’s ‘pritty duckys’.
Apparently, the Vatican thought the letter was far too risqué for viewers of an upcoming BBC’s programme, Six Wives with Lucy Worsley.
However, Vatican authorities did allow the BBC to film other letters in which the Tudor king does not talk dirty.
The “naughty” letter was written by the king while in the throes of love, declaring that he was:

Wishing my self (specially an evening) in my sweetheart’s armes whose pritty duckys I trust shortly to kysse.

Duckys, Worsley explained, is known to have been a slang reference to breasts.
The broadcaster and chief curator at Historic Royal Palaces said she had experienced a “sizzle” of excitement at being granted permission to use the other letters, saying it was “so fantastic” to be able to show audiences evidence of Henry’s passion.
Some of the letters will appear in episode one of the history documentary that is blended with drama.
While the script is based on accurate historical documents, the programme-makers said they hoped to entice a new audience into understanding the period and give an alternate viewpoint from the queens’ perspectives.
While Catherine of Aragon is shown as a dignified, powerful Queen in her own right, Anne Boleyn will be shown as a fierce intellectual who miscalculated, and Katherine Howard will be portrayed as the victim of child abuse.
A question that immediately sprang to my mind was: “why the hell is the Vatican holding these letters?”
The Anne Boleyn Files quotes by Dr Linda Saether as saying:

How these very personal letters ended up in Rome, hidden, for centuries, in the Vatican archives will never be known. One can only assume that they were stolen by supporters of Katherine of Aragon, the Queen that Henry VIII sought to divorce despite their Catholic marriage vows.
According to Henry, his union with Katherine was sinful and unlawful in the eyes of God, incestuous in fact, due to Katherine’s prior marriage to Henry’s brother Arthur. His grounds for divorce was that this sin had cursed their union resulting in their inability to produce a male heir for the sake of England.
Although the Queen swore her brief marriage to Henry’s brother was never consummated and the Pope had granted dispensation for their union, Henry didn’t budge. It was widely known that making Lady Anne Boleyn his wife and Queen had become Henry’s obsession. An obsession that eventually led England away from the grips of Rome and towards a religious reformation with Henry VIII as the Supreme Head of the English Church.
Perhaps the Pope himself read these letters meant for Henry’s darling Anne and realised just how obsessed Henry had become. And then quietly had them buried in the archives.

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  • andym

    Shouldn’t be too surprised, should we ?The Catholic church has a long and ignoble history of suppressing historical fact. It’s what they do best, apart from committing paedophilia on an industrial scale , that is.

  • AgentCormac

    They also suppress content of their own bible that doesn’t exactly fit with what they want the gullible to believe.

  • At least they are consistent, in that they identified a problem with clergy who rape children, clergy who are then sheltered by the church, and rooted out that problem decades ago.
    Sorry, hang on… no, that is only partially true. The problem is identified and decades old but the problem endures.
    Raped children yes, saucy letters no. This is the moral high ground of the Church.

  • Marcus

    ‘Ere. Hang on a mo … the Catholic Church STOLE the letters? I think Theresa May should send the Pope a strongly-worded letter demanding them back because they are part of British culture and belong in the UK.

  • Nutter Quick Response Team

    The rcc … what a bunch of nasty bastards.

  • remigius

    Marcus. She can’t do that. If she did we’d be obliged to hand back all the historic artefacts we ‘liberated’ over the centuries. The British Museum would be practically empty.

  • Newspaniard

    @AgentCormac. Re: Link to Wikisource. Amazing isn’t it, that people will spend their whole lives investigating players who never existed? All that effort and for what? Even today there are leaders of the islamic faith who insist that their followers waste their lives killing people instead of tilling the ground. There are brilliant muslim scientists working in universities who are afraid to “see” the truth about the mythical, mohammed for fear of being shunned or worse. In a few decades, there will be a cult, similar to the loony scientologist one, venerating the memory of Gandalf the White. Hang around. You may live to see it. Religion is a truly terrible thing. (Anyone I haven’t annoyed here?)

  • Broga

    The delicacy of the Vatican about a woman’s breasts is a contrast to its history of robust unconcern regarding the behaviour of its paedophile priests.

  • Stephen Mynett

    John Frum or the Cargo Cults ( are a good example of how quickly a crazy idea can take hold.
    Personally, I am still waiting for the second coming of Ena Sharples and Stan Ogden.

  • andym

    Strangely enough, cargo cults did,initially at least, have an element of rationally to them. If you had no concept of radio waves, or that an industrialised society was a short flight away, it did at least have some sense, that the colonialists were causing these amazing things to appear by putting strange things on their heads (headphones,) and talking into a strange box.
    It could be argued that it was no more or less rational than organised religions, and that like those ,it was eventually used by people who knew better, to manipulate and control people.

  • remigius

    andym, but that sort of thing wouldn’t happen nowadays.
    “…by putting strange things on their heads…”

  • remigius
  • rohini

    Let India have the Kohinoor and other treasures back then since they’re part of India cultural history and heritage.

  • RussellW

    Let’s face facts. Most of the world’s antiquities are safer in Western museums than in the hands of their rightful owners.
    Stephen Mynett,
    Compared with the belief in the immaterial ‘rewards’ of the so-called Abrahamic religions, cargo cults seem quite rational.

  • Daz

    “Let’s face facts. Most of the world’s antiquities are safer in Western museums than in the hands of their rightful owners.”

    Well of course. The damned uncivilised savages would probably “clean” them with chisels and wire brushes.

  • remigius

    There is a moral argument for returning cultural artefacts to their country of origin, but not a legal one.
    Neither the government, nor Parliament has title to such artefacts. That rests with the trustees and they have a legal obligation to retain possession.

  • RussellW

    You apparently didn’t notice the term ‘safer’. Members of ISIS don’t clean antiquities , they destroy them. There have been some remarkably incompetent attempts at restoration by the Greeks themselves. You haven’t heard about Athens’ acid rain? Tomb robbers? The Cairo Museum?

  • barriejohn

    Remigius: What could be stranger, in the cold light of reality, than closing your eyes and talking to a person who is not there? In any other context than the religious one it would be considered a sign of mental disorder.

  • 1859

    I like ‘pritty duckys’. I wonder what the Elizabethans would have said for ‘biggus dickus’?

  • Daz

    Russell, yes I did notice your use of the comparative. I simply dispute the claims that we in the west are somehow more aware of the importance of historical artefacts than others are, and that we’re uniquely able to protect them. Frankly, such attitudes smell rather more of colonialism and self-aggrandisement than they do of realism. Yes, the non-western world is not perfect, but neither is the western world; as countless Heinrich Schliemanns and Lord Elgins can testify.
    And as you mention acid rain, let’s not forget to include the decidedly western city of Bath in our list of cultures we shouldn’t trust with their own artefacts.

  • remigius

    RussellW, Daz, et al. One proposed solution is to make exact replicas of the antiquities and let a delegation (but not experts!) from both the host nation and the original nation pick which ones they want.
    The display of replica antiquities in museums is quite commonplace. Sometimes they are labelled as such…
    …but very often they are not.
    In fact some of the Tutankhamun artefacts that are exhibited as genuine around the world are anything but – and the reason lies in a curious legal wrangle that happened in the early 1970’s.
    In 1972 the Egyptian government allowed the British Museum to stage an exhibition of the treasures from Tutankhamun’s tomb. It took years to plan, but just before it opened there was a serious hitch.
    The Egyptian government were being sued by a Hollywood film studio for pirating copies of their movies. A court in Switzerland had found in the studio’s favour and ordered that Egyptian assets were to be seized to pay for the damages (about $25 million, as I recall). It was very likely that a similar action would succeed in Britain and the treasures would be forfeited. Although they were insured against damage and theft they were not covered for legal seizure under a court order.
    The British government could not stop such a lawsuit – it would have required a change in the law, and there was very little time to do so. The Egyptians tried to claim the treasures had diplomatic immunity, but under British law they didn’t.
    In the end the British government had no choice but to guarantee to underwrite any costs arising from such a lawsuit, and the exhibition went ahead. Later travelling to the USSR, then to the USA and Europe where similar guarantees were made.
    When the treasures returned home they decided to never let them leave Egypt again and exact replicas were made for future tours. Some were even exhibited as genuine in a different museum in Cairo in an effort to reduce crowding.
    Unfortunately I don’t have any links for the above story. I’ve looked on’t web and found nothing – but I’ll keep looking.

  • remigius

    Apologies if I waffled on a bit, but stuff like this (museums/archaeology and law/rights) are very close to my heart and I tend to get a bit effusive.
    I found a link – the reason I couldn’t find anything earlier was because it was actually a state secret at the time, and only released to the public under the Thirty Year Rule where it got very little coverage.
    Anyway I googled – tutankhamun pirate switzerland – and got this…

  • RussellW

    The examples of 19th century robber antiquarians such as Schliemann and Elgin are not valid, archaeology didn’t exist as an academic discipline then.You could play the colonialist card if you chose, however ask yourself this question. Would you prefer that, say, Assyrian artefacts were in the hands of ISIS or a Western museum?

  • barriejohn

    Russell: ISIS are a very recent phenomenon, and their sort arise everywhere from time to time. I don’t suppose that Henry VIII or Oliver Cromwell were ever engaged in any iconoclastic behaviour ever!

  • barriejohn

    1859: I love their euphemisms – and not only the sexual ones. How about, for penis, “Maypole”, or “Pioneer of Nature”?
    Who needs Carry On Henry?

  • RussellW

    The same comment applies, references to how Westerners behaved in the past are not relevant, it’s the 21st century.
    Given the current state of the ME, antiquities are safer in Western museums.

  • Fred Diener

    How many thousands of years will it take the current species of humans to look back and laugh at ourselves for being so primitive? On the other hand, we will probably annialate ourselves in one of our never ending wars by using nuclear weapons. Ain’t we special!

  • John

    My understanding is that as a young girl, Ann Boleyn grew up in France and learned the French way of doing things, including oral sex.
    This meant that she knew how to conduct fellacio on Henry, which may explain why he might have been so love-struck by her?
    It also acted as a form of birth control, permitting sexual activity without procreation – until ready for it.