Emails to Henry VIII, from his Relate Relationship Counsellor

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Email sent to:

Your Majesty,

Thank you for your recent email detailing the issues you are having in your relationship. Reaching out is the first step to making a difference in your marriage. My apologies for the slight delay, it took me a while to put the Latin through Google translate.

Every relationship is unique, but I accept marrying your dead brother’s wife at the behest of your dying father in a bid to dynastically link England and Spain does create a certain amount of tension. How were family gatherings? As you say, your wife is six years your senior, and you feel she may have misled you about her level of sexual experience. Any anxiety about living up to the sexual performance of one’s older brother may limit your own levels of satisfaction, but why do you think this has led you to question the holy validity of your union? Seeking an annulment feels like a knee jerk response.

I also find it interesting you say you have acted as a good pious husband by only having three mistresses. You say your wife does not object, but you still seem disappointed in her. Have you considered this may be about your mother? It would be useful to talk to you and your wife together, but I appreciate this does not fit with Catherine of Aragon’s schedule since she’s currently banished from court.

At root I feel you’re not being honest with yourself about the real reasons you’re considering ending this relationship. Do let me know if you would like to talk further.

Kind regards,


Email to:

Your Grace,

Congratulations on your recent marriage to Anne Boleyn – and I’m sorry to hear it is already in difficulty. You write that Anne’s vivacity and intellect appealed to you during your courtship, but she now refuses to play the submissive wife. Have you spent much time in the American Bible belt?

You say there are no problems in the bedroom chamber, which is promising. But can you clarify what you meant by “that naughty thing she learnt to do in the French court”, and just how you feel she used that to trick you into marriage? I don’t understand what you mean by “wasting the divine king’s seed”. Have you been arguing about the Hampton Court Palace gardens?

I’m alarmed at your suspicions your wife may have had carnal relations with her brother. I can refer you to a therapist who specialises in incest if you wish? You also allege she is a practiser of witchcraft. These sound like extraordinary accusations. Is it possible something else is going on? I do not think your former wife Catherine of Aragon dying on the same day as Anne miscarried your child is concrete proof you have “pissed off god”. It seems to me you are dealing with many layers of emotion and may benefit from some form of anger management strategy. Have you considered Mindfulness, or jousting?

Do let me know if you would like to talk further.


Email to:

Your Excellency,

I was sorry to learn of the loss of your wife Jane Seymour, less than a year after the unfortunate decapitation accident that saw you lose your previous wife Anne. How much can one man take, indeed? I want to reassure you you are not the master of your own misfortune, though, obviously, you are the master of everything else. Nor are you being punished for, as you put it, the “whole religion thing”. Grief is a complex emotion. You say Jane was young and beautiful, and you married just ten days after Anne’s accident. Do you think you rebounded in a bid to assuage your heartache?

You also write of your close friend Thomas Cromwell’s warnings of threats both at home and abroad. Is it possible he has an ulterior motive? You say you have declared two of your children as illegitimate. Are you feeling any anxiety or paranoia? I would counsel against you taking any rash decisions during a time of emotional turmoil, they may have long lasting repercussions. Thinking about other more pleasant things may be helpful. Have you thought about joining an evening class or taking up a hobby? I hear invading France is very popular at this time of year.

I’m always happy to listen.


Email to:

Dear HRH,

I am sorry to learn your most recent marriage to Anne of Cleves has not worked out. I can see how publically calling her a ‘Flanders Mare’, ruined any chance of reconciliation. Though these posh girls are often horsey, I agree. I’m pleased that aside from this, you seem to have separated amicably. But I am concerned by the official title you have bestowed on your ex-wife. Calling her the ‘The King’s Sister’ returns us to the subject of incest. You seem somewhat fixated on inappropriate family members having sex – have you read much Freud?

And may I say how sorry I was to hear your friend Thomas Cromwell also passed away in a decapitation accident. Have you thought about introducing some Health & Safety legislation?

I’m always here to listen.


P.S. Thank you for the Youtube video of you playing Green Sleeves on the ukulele. It is indeed very catchy.

Email to:

Dear Henry,

I’m sorry to hear your recent partnership with Catherine Howard has come to an end. It must be hard to deal with the rejection of her having not one but two affairs behind your back. As you say, it’s not like she’s the man in the relationship and is allowed to behave like that. Silly girl: I can only assume she lost her head.

Do not feel downhearted. I know you can find true happiness; you just need to meet the right woman. Someone who is independently wealthy, say. Educated, perhaps with previous relationship experience to draw on, and, crucially, not likely to shag half of court. If at first you don’t succeed try, try, try, try, try, and try again. Have you considered Tindr? That Holbein painting of you with the hipster ginger beard would definitely have the single ladies-in-waiting swiping right.



Email to:

Hey Big-Spender,

What a delight to finally meet in person. I don’t think your paintings do you justice. I like a meaty man: someone strong and powerful to look after me. And I think gout is a sign of refined and cultured taste. And no, the pus oozing sores didn’t bother me at all. I barely noticed them. Or the smell.

I confess I have been lonely since my husband passed away, and the chance of a new relationship has come as a pleasant surprise. Before we progress though, I think we should talk about Mary. And Elizabeth. I know things didn’t end well with their mothers, but they are still your children. Through my work with relationship counselling I’ve come to highly value the family unit. I think you should welcome them back into the fold. Such spirited girls. Elizabeth, in particular, could go far. And it’ll even up the numbers of women at the swan-eating feasts.

I look forward to taking our relationship public, but I feel it’s best we use my full name at functions. Catherine Parr sounds much more regal than Kate, don’t you think?

Yours until the day you die,



I first wrote and read emails to Henry VIII from his Relate relationship counsellor for Daisy letters of notBuchanan and Dale Shaw’s We Could Send Letters night – inspired by Dale’s fabulously funny book Letters of Not. Do follow them on Twitter to find out when the next night will be. There was nibbles.

1 Comment

1 Comment on Emails to Henry VIII, from his Relate Relationship Counsellor

  1. Aaron
    28/12/2014 at 6:29 pm (3 years ago)

    Brilliant! I just hope that you still have eyes in your head – and a head on your shoulders – to read the feedback.

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