Here I am on my deathbed with not so long to live. I led an eventful life and I will be remembered for a long time. I was probably the most important person alive at my time. History will remember me for good things and bad things. However, they will not tell you the real story. They will only tell you what they know.
This is my story, and it will shock everyone that reads it. I will soon be called to God. It is important for me to remember who I was and under all the make-up and dresses I wear, who I am!
I was born in 1533 in Bisley, which is a charming village in Gloucestershire. Not many people lived here. My name was Neville, and I was an only son. People always noticed my hair, because it was red. I suppose not many had red hair. They say that people with red hair had a temper. I think that suited me fine. It was a fault that I worked a lot with. I simply got mad over the smallest things. Otherwise, I was not a bad boy and usually did what I was told.
My father’s name is Henrik and my mother’s name is Elizabeth. They are a duke and duchess. We did not live in a huge place. Mom hated big houses. We lived in a manor house. It was much bigger than the cottages in the village, but it was not a palace. We had a huge garden, Mom loved flowers and I could spend all day in the garden.
You can say we were a part of the Royal Family. My father was the illegitimate son of the king. The king never recognized him as a son, but he was made a Duke. This means that even though my dad was the son of the king, he would never be a prince or the king. He never boasted about who his dad was. Some people called my dad a bastard, which I think was very mean. The important thing was that dad was loyal and good friends with the king.
I was a happy boy. My mother told me I was the best thing that ever happened to them. I had a good relationship with both my mom and my dad. Dad was very wise and taught me that people needed someone strong to lead them. I could be a leader or a follower. He hoped that I would be a leader, and help to make the life of people better. A leader had to make tough decisions and must always put people before their needs.
Mom was like a best friend. She always said I had the face of an angel, and not like other boys. I would help her in the garden taking care of the flowers. I liked the flowers as you could see them grow. Even when they faded and lost their beauty, you knew they would come again and visit. Otherwise, I loved when we played hide and seek in the garden.
I knew that I had royal blood in me. I was too young to understand about Royalty. I heard about how the Church of England was established. The king could not get a divorce. I also heard that the second queen was beheaded. The King was old but had 3 children. Princess Mary, Princess Elizabeth, and Prince Edward. Princess Elizabeth was the same age as me. The royal family did not seem to be a family like ours. I heard the king hardly ever spoke to his daughters, and his wives were either divorced or executed.
We heard of executions every week. Dad said that people lived in fear, as one wrong word could cost you your head. This made him happy living in a small village. The Royal family could live in fear and drama. My dad was very loyal and loved England, Still, he preferred to be far away from the political world and not fear for his life.
Education was very important for my parents. This meant that I had lessons every day about history, Maths, Latin, philosophy, and theology. My tutor was very good and very patient and told me that I was one of the best pupils he ever had. I found learning easy and loved learning about new things. There were so many questions that I had, and my temper would show when I had problems understanding things or my questions were not answered. I was proud that I was considered intelligent.
My life changed in the most dramatic way in 1542. I was 9 years old
There was a plaque in London and thousands of people were dying. Plagues were the worse thing that could happen, as there seemed to be no cure. When people found out there was a plague, it would spread fear and gloom. Only death would follow and the sickness could wipe out a family! The plague did not care if you were poor or if you had some fancy title or money and land. It killed everyone despite their status in the country. We were lucky that the plague stayed in London. There were no signs of it in our small village.
I woke up one day and it seemed like any other day. We had breakfast and Dad was telling us what he would do. I knew what I would do, I would be studying and spending all day with my tutor.
So I was in a small room as the tutor was talking about theology when I hear mom screaming. I thought she was hurt. I rushed out and seen mom holding a message.
“She’s coming! Princess Elizabeth is coming here!”
The King decided that London was too dangerous for his children and they should live someplace safe. It was decided that Elizabeth would be staying with us. So in the next few days, we cleaned every corner of the house and made sure that Elizabeth’s room was fit for a princess.
I wondered what she would be like. Her mom was executed when she was only 3 years old. This must have been such a loss, losing your mother that way so early. To make it worse she was declared illegitimate! How could her dad even do this? They say that her dad did not even speak with her in years. Did he love her or did he hate the fact that she was a girl?
Princess Elizabeth came and she was not as I thought she would be. She wasn’t a princess that demanded and was all stuck up. She was nice and well mannered. She had long red hair that was covered by a head veil. She was the same size as me. She was accompanied by her governess and a man. It was nice having some life in the house.
We played all the time. Elizabeth loved being outside in the garden and running. We quickly became friends and I don’t think I ever laughed so much than the days she was here.
One day, we were chasing butterflies. It was like any other day. The sun was shining and there were no lessons. So we were enjoying the time outside and joking and laughing as we ran through the garden looking for butterflies.
Suddenly Elizabeth fell to the ground. The laughing stopped as she mumbled that she did not feel that well. I helped her back to the house, while the governess and her husband helped the princess in the bed.
I was in the corner of the bedroom as they tended to Elizabeth, who was very pale and sweating a lot. I wondered how anyone could be playing at one stage and then suddenly unable to speak or do anything and be confined to bed. The governess was worried as she was saying that the princess was getting warmer and warmer. I did not know what to do, so I fell to my knees. With a tear in my eye, I prayed that my new friend would recover.
Then everything went quiet. Mom gave me a hug and said the princess was dead. Everyone just stood there saying nothing as the princess looked as if she was asleep. I think they were thinking that she would suddenly wake up. This did not happen. Princess Elizabeth was in heaven with her mother!
Mom fell to her knees and was the first to speak. She started crying and said that the king would behead us all because his daughter died. Everyone started talking about it and I could see how serious the discussion was. The King executed people for less. Despite that he showed no love for his daughter, he would blame the people that she was with. The adults were discussing how they could tell the king and at the same time, keep their heads. There seemed to be no answer.
The governess suddenly had an idea. She said that they could replace the princess. They simply had to find a girl the same age with red hair in the town. I was only 9, but I thought this was the strangest idea I ever heard.
There was no girl in the town that could replace Elizebeth. It seemed as if our fate was sealed. I remembered when we buried Elizabeth in the corner of the garden, that the governess was looking at me. This made me feel uncomfortable. I was certain that everyone was standing there thinking about if we would be executed and who would come to our funeral. It made me uneasy that the governess looked at my neck. I could not be blamed for the death of the princess. I did not want her to die. She was a friend!
After the funeral, my parents were arguing with the governess and her husband. The only thing I heard was that they kept saying they could not find a red-haired girl. I also heard my Dad shout several times that it was a bad plan, while mom started crying saying “no”. I went into the garden and sat next to Elizabeth’s grave. I only knew her for a few days, but she was so fun to be with and she was the best friend that I ever had.
One of the servants came and told me I was wanted.
The adults were in Elizabeth’s room and I was told to strip. Then one of her dresses was lowered over my head and a hair veil was put on me. The governess cut the bangs in the front and then everyone stood there looking at me.
“ I can’t believe what I am seeing,” The governess said.
To be continued