Henry VIII’s first wife in new show

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LONDON — English Tudor King Henry VIII and his six wives are a staple tale of costume dramas — now a new television series is turning viewers’ attention to the story of the first, Catherine of Aragon.

The Spanish Princess, a British-American production based on two books by Philippa Gregory, stars Game of Thrones actress Charlotte Hope in the title role and Stephanie Levi-John as her black lady-in-waiting, Lina de Cardonnes. Also in the cast is Laura Carmichael from Downtown Abbey.

“We get an opportunity to tell (history) from the perspective of women and to tell the stories of black people,” Hope told Reuters in an interview. “I think it’s not only really important but also really exciting that we get to explore something that hasn’t been explored yet.”

Catherine of Aragon (1485-1536) was betrothed to Arthur, the Prince of Wales and heir apparent to the English throne, as a young child.

The eight-part series follows her journey from sunny Spain to grey and drizzly England. When Arthur suddenly falls ill and dies five months into their marriage, Catherine finds herself a widower in a strange land, aged only 16.

Seven years later, after receiving the blessing of the pope on the premise her marriage to Arthur was never consummated, Catherine is married to his younger brother, who has just been made king.

Henry VIII ruled England from 1509 to 1547. He famously divorced Catherine against her will, consequently breaking from Rome to become the head of the Church of England.

“We always hear the stories from Henry’s side so… it’s really nice to sort of flip it on its head and be like actually there was another side to the story too,” Ms. Levi-John said. — Reuters