“Though he was to reign for another twenty years, in many ways the summer of 1531 was the high point of Henry’s reign. Not only had Conn O’Neill and Hugh O’Donnell, two of the ringleaders of the ‘Christmas Rising’ of 1528 come before him and submitted to him in exchange for the titles of Earl of Tyrone and Earl of Tyrconnell, but it was the last one the whole Tudor family spent together before the children began to fly the nest; fifteen-year-old Maria to Paris to get to know her new country before she married the Dauphin in 1533, ten-year-old Lionel to Ludlow to head the Council of the Welsh Marches, at least in name, and seven-year-old Richard to Rouen, to be raised as the Duke of Normandy under the careful tutelage of Lord Hastings and Sir Edward Seymour. Knowing things would never be the same again, Henry, in his typical flamboyant style, turned the summer progress into something longer and grander than it had ever been before. He and Queen Marie set out from Westminster on Easter Monday, stopping at Eltham to collect the children, who had been spending Easter together. From there, the whole family went to Raglan to spend some time with Lord and Lady Pembroke, and then to Chester to watch Lionel swear allegiance to his father and be officially invested as Prince of Wales and Earl of Chester, which he was on May 1st. From there, they turned north, through Cheshire and Lancashire, stopping to visit the Marquis and Marchioness of Lancaster at Sizergh, before crossing the Pennines to York, where they met the young King James V of Scotland. James played an honoured part in Henry’s birthday celebrations, even managing to unseat the Earl of Pembroke in a joust, before pledging to take Lady Caitlin as his wife in the summer of 1538 in a glittering spectacle of a ceremony in York Minister in early July.
Then, honour satisfied on both sides, the Tudors came south along the east coast, before turning inland through Peterborough, Cambridge and Canterbury, where Queen Marie, the new Queen of Scotland, Princess Maria, and Lady Jacquetta all left offerings at the shrine of St Thomas Becket. Presumably, they were praying for Maria and Dickon’s safe journey across the Channel, for by early September, the two had embarked from Dover, marking the end of a truly sumptuous progress…”
_______ Amelia Morris, “England’s Second Conqueror: A Life of King Henry VIII, 1491-1551
Lancashire, June 1531
Caitlin rode her dapple-grey pony between Mama and Papa, head held high. She was trying not to show how scared she was. After all, she was going to meet her future husband in York. She was going to be the Queen of Scots, just like her aunt Margaret. She had to act like a Queen, not like a scared little baby. Besides, she had to be the strong one. For Jackie, if not for herself. Maria was leaving for France at the end of the summer and Jackie was already so upset at the very thought. Jackie loved Maria best of all their brothers and sisters, so the prospect of her leaving was really hard for her. Caitlin had to be extra nice to Jackie to make her feel better, especially given her own betrothal would remind Jackie of how things would change after the summer. She couldn’t show Jackie how scared she was, either.
“All right, angel?”
Papa looked over at her and she nodded, “Yes, Papa.”
“Good girl. You’re so brave, you know that? A true Princess.”
He leaned over from his saddle and squeezed her shoulder. She forced her lips up into a smile.
“Thank you, Papa.”
When he let her go, however, she dropped back to ride alongside her older brother Lionel. He smiled at her.
“You’ll be fine, Caitlin. You’re doing really well as it is.”
“Thank you,” she whispered. And it did mean a lot to hear. Lionel didn’t often spend time with her. He was usually at Tickhill with Hal and the rest of his household, and even when he wasn't, he tended to focus his attention on Hal and Maria, while she was closer to Dickon. To hear Lionel praising her for once was a pleasant surprise. They rode along in silence for a while, before she, emboldened by the sudden trust that seemed to be blossoming between them, blurted, “He just sounds so old!
What if he thinks I’m just a silly little girl?”
a silly little girl,” Lionel retorted with brotherly candour. At the look on her face, however, he softened, “You’ll grow up. You’ll grow up into a woman as beautiful as Mama and King James will have no choice but to fall in love with you.”
“Do you think so?”
“If he doesn’t, I’ll simply have to declare war on Scotland, won’t I?”
Caitlin laughed at her older brother’s flippancy and he chuckled with her.
“That’s better. Now, tell you what. I bet you half an angel you can’t beat me to Aunt Anne’s.”
“Lionel! We can’t!”
She might have protested, but when her older brother spurred his horse away from her, shouting 'Race you!' over his shoulder, she couldn’t resist. She gave her pony its head and fled after him, hurtling lengths ahead of the procession.
“Papa’s going to be so angry! We’re not behaving properly!” She panted.
“Nonsense!” Lionel shouted gleefully, “He knows as well as anyone we have to please the people. And they love it. Listen!”
And indeed, when Caitlin cocked her head to listen, she heard them roaring her name and Lionel’s.
“God Bless the Lion Prince! England’s young lion!”
“God Save the Young Lion!”
“The Angel Princess!”
“The Thornless Rose!”
“The Lion and the Rose!”
“The Lion and the Rose!”
Breathless, Caitlin urged her pony on through the cheering crowd, only dimly aware of the even more raucous shouts building behind her, where her parents were passing.
“Bluff King Hal! Huzzah for Bluff King Hal!
“Queen Marie! God Bless Good Queen Marie!”
“The Golden Queen!”
“The Golden Queen and the Dragon King!”
**** **** ****
“And then Lionel and I raced each other here and he let me win, so he owes me half an angel, and the crowd were cheering us and they were shouting for Mama and Papa too and....”
Now safe and sound in the arms of her favourite aunt, Caitlin was much happier and back to her usual bubbly self.
Anne laughed, “Slow down, ma miel,
catch your breath. You can tell me all about it later, when you’ve washed up and changed.”
“Yes, Aunt Anne,” Caitlin murmured, catching Maggie’s eye over her aunt’s shoulder and quickly letting her older cousin take charge of her and begin to pull her away.
However, on the threshold of Sizergh Castle, she turned, pert little nose scrunched in confusion.
“The common people called Mama something odd.”
Aunt Anne turned, smiling down at her, “What was it, ma miel?”
“They shouted ‘Beatrix!’ as Mama went past. Why would they shout that? It’s not her name.”
Papa, who had just dismounted and was helping Mama off her horse, overheard her question.
“You know your Latin, Caitlin. You tell me.”
“But...it means she who makes happy. I know that. But why would they shout it for Mama?”
“Because that’s who she is,” Papa explained, kissing Mama as she slid down into his arms, “She made me happy after Maria’s mother died and she made me happy by bringing me all of you. She’s also made England happy by making her safe by birthing your brothers. So of course they’re going to shout ‘Beatrix’ for Mama. No name suits her better. She truly is my Beatrix
“And mine,” Caitlin replied, running over to slip her hand into Mama’s, not caring that it broke every rule Lady Salisbury and Lady Willoughby had ever drilled into her. In that instant, with her family gathered around her, she could almost forget the future. She could almost forget that, within weeks, she would be promised to be the Queen of Scots and addressed as such.
In that moment, she was no one but her father’s little angel.
She was no one but Caitlin and all was right with the world.