Queen Katherine is King Henry’s wife of twenty years, a Spanish princess, widow of his elder brother Arthur, and the mother of his daughter.
She is a kind and intelligent woman beloved by her subjects, whom she cares for deeply. She is an enemy of Cardinal Wolsey’s, but does not engage him directly, preferring to raise matters subtly with the King. She is suspicious of the honesty of Buckingham’s Surveyor. Her world is turned upside down when the King informs her that he wants a divorce, as he fears that he has done wrong by marrying his brother’s widow, despite the fact that the wisest men of the time agreed to the marriage at the time, and that this is why they have had no living male child. Passionate and noble, she refuses to agree to the divorce, openly pleads her own cause, and refuses her enemy Wolsey as judge, appealing over his head to the Pope. Having no allies, she is unable to win her cause, though she puts up a valiant fight. She is enraged at being betrayed by the Church, and saddened that she can find no-one to help her, however much the people pity her. She refuses to come to any court to plead her case, and is therefore divorced in her absence. Growing ill in her exile in the country, barely able to walk, she cannot help but be glad to hear of Wolsey’s death. Despite her disgrace she insists on being treated as a Queen, refusing to acknowledge the change forced on her. Her final thoughts are to beg the King to be good to those that served her, and to keep her honor intact by being buried according to her state. She has a vision of being welcomed into heaven that makes her death much easier to bear. Nobody has a bad thing to say about her.