Mary, Mary Queen of Scots, why did you marry Darnley?

By Robert Reed

Mary returned to her native Scotland in 1561 after the death of her first hubby King Francis II of France. On Saturday 17th February, 1565, she met Henry Stuart, Lord Darnley at Wemyss Castle. He had a twinkle in his eye and was a nifty dancer. They had things in common: both were tall, red-headed and first cousins. What’s more they both had a strong claim to the throne of England. Pretty much instantly Mary was “bewitched” with her “long lad”, and they got hitched at Holyrood Palace on 29th July, 1565.

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Darnley fell short of being a perfect husband on account of the fact that he was a violent, womanising drunk. Oh, he also wanted to rule Scotland as king in his own right. He was a bit like the Incredible Hulk: “Don’t make me angry, you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry!”, except that he was always angry. Also, Darnley was jealous of Mary’s friendship with an Italian musician called Rizzio, so Darnley and a few conspirator mates stabbed the poor Rizzio fifty-six times for good measure in front of the pregnant Queen. It was probably too late for marital counselling by then.

In November, 1566, Mary and some leading nobles had a secret meeting concerning what to do about Darnley. (The National Security Agency records of their subsequent mobile conversations are available on request.) Divorce was out of the question, so another way had to be found. At that time, Darnley was suffering from a rather unpleasant illness and living on a housing estate in Glasgow. Mary persuaded him to stay in Kirk o’Field near to her place. She visited him daily and then at 2.00 a.m. on the night of 10th February, 1567, the property he was staying in mysteriously blew up. Darnley was found in his pyjamas in the garden next to a plastic gnome. He had been suffocated.

The not-so-devastated Queen soon married the main suspect, James Hepburn, 4th Earl of Bothwell. Scotland was shocked and the ‘confederate lords’ rose in rebellion.

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