On 25 May 1553, a double royal wedding took place. The young King Edward VI of England was dying, and although he had tried to leave the throne to Lady Jane’s male heirs, Lady Jane simply didn’t have enough time to produce one.
Lady Jane and her sisters Mary and Katherine were first cousins once removed of the King. Their grandmother was Mary Tudor, Queen of France and Duchess of Suffolk, the sister of King Henry VIII of England. King Edward had two living sisters (the future Queens Mary I and Elizabeth I), but Mary was a Catholic, and Elizabeth would probably not agree to supersede Mary, despite her concerns.1 Thus, he settled on the male heirs of his cousins, and they were dutifully quickly married off to produce the said male heir.
Lady Jane married Lord Guildford Dudley, while Katherine married Henry Herbert, Lord Herbert. The eight-year-old Mary was matched with the middle-aged Lord Grey of Wilton, although she was not old enough to be legally married.
The weddings took place at Durham, with the couples dressed in silver and gold. The fifteen-year-old Henry, Lord Herbert, had been dreadfully ill and looked it too. The King was too unwell to attend the ceremony but sent “presents of rich ornaments and jewels.”2 At the same time, one of Lord Guildford’s sisters, the twelve-year-old Catherine, was also married to Lord Hastings.
After the wedding, Lady Jane and her sister Lady Katherine moved to their new homes. Jane moved to Sion in Richmond, while Katherine moved to Baynard’s Castle. Jane, under the most pressure to produce, probably had her marriage consummated almost immediately.
Not much later, the King altered his succession plan to include Jane herself – he was running out of time. He died on 6 July 1553, with Jane briefly succeeding him until Mary successfully claimed the throne. Both Jane and Guildford were eventually executed. Katherine survived the upheaval, and her marriage to Henry, Lord Herbert, was annulled the following year.
The only marriage to survive from that day was that of Lady Catherine Dudley to Lord Hastings, later Earl of Huntingdon.