August 5, 2021

Black actress who plays Queen Anne Boleyn sparks controversy in UK

LETTER FROM LONDON

Hever Castle, south London, in the green Kent countryside. A little gem of a medieval castle, with machicolation and double row of moats. The sumptuous park was added by the wealthy American Astor family, when they acquired the premises at the very beginning of the 20th century.e century. The heir William Waldorf Astor had a vast lake dug there. He also fitted out the attic of the stately home, installed a library, restored ceilings, but chose to preserve the essential: the Tudor heritage of the place.

It was here that Anne Boylen, the second wife of King Henry VIII, spent her childhood. The castle had been acquired by her great-grandfather, Geoffrey Boleyn, in 1462. Anne must have arrived there as a young girl, around 1505.

You can visit the dark hallway downstairs where, according to the audio guide, she was busy spinning wool with her mother and sister, Mary. Upstairs, her bedroom, narrow, and another, much larger, perhaps the one the Boleyn family attributed to the king when he visited the young woman in Hever; he courted him assiduously and scandalously at the time.

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The tragic fate of Anne Boleyn occupies a prominent place in British history: it is to marry this woman renowned for her culture and her intelligence that Henry VIII will provoke the English Reformation, in order to be able to divorce with Catherine d ‘Aragon, his first wife.

Anne will be queen just three years, from 1533 to 1536, the time to give birth to a daughter, the future Elizabeth Ire, then to chain the miscarriages before being beheaded at the Tower of London by order of the sovereign under the pretext of high treason. His fault would have been above all not to have given a male heir to the king and, perhaps, to have shown an intolerable vivacity at the time on the part of a wife. The fate of Anne Boleyn never ceases to inspire cinema and television. It was notably interpreted by Nathalie Portman (The Other Boleyn Girl in 2008) and Claire Foy (in the series Wolf Hall from the BBC in 2009).

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Mardi 1is In June, the British channel Channel 5 broadcast the first episode of a new mini-series devoted to the mythical queen consort, designed “Like a psychological thriller” according to the channel, with for originality, the fact that it is interpreted by a black actress, Jodie Turner-Smith.

This isn’t the first time black people have portrayed white characters on screen – Netflix’s hit series, The Bridgertons Chronicle, released at the end of December 2020, is the latest example. In addition, Anne Boleyn had already been played by Anglo-Indian actress Merle Oberon in a 1933 film (The Private Life of Henry VIII, by director Alexander Korda).

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