Anne of Cleves, 4th wife of Henry VIII

Anne of Cleves was born at Düsseldorf on 22nd September 1515, daughter of Johann III, Duke of Cleves, and his wife Marie.


Anne married Henry VIII as his fourth wife at Greenwich on 6th January 1540 but the marriage was annulled in July of that year. So she was never crowned queen. He found she was not as attractive as her portrait had suggested and called her a 'Flanders mare'. The king gave her a handsome divorce settlement and she was on affectionate terms with the future Elizabeth I.


She died at Chelsea on 17th July 1557. Mary I ordered her burial in the Abbey, and the magnificent funeral was conducted according to Catholic rites as Anne had wanted. She lies on the south side of the High Altar and her monument is a low stone structure of three sections with carvings showing her initials AC with a crown, lions' heads and skulls and crossed bones (symbols of mortality). It was probably made by Theodore Haveus of Cleves but was never finished. The back part of the tomb has been mostly obscured by later monuments. The inscription on the back, visible from the south transept, reads "Anne of Cleves Queen of England. Born 1515. Died 1557" but this was not added until the 1970s.

A photograph of her tomb can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library.

Further information

Portraits of the Queen can be viewed on the National Portrait Gallery website

A drawing of her funeral procession is preserved at the British Library

An account of her funeral is in Samuel Bentley's Excerpta Historica (1831 edn)

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography 2004

Carved wooden panels on which the tomb motifs are probably based can be seen in St Leonard's church, Old Warden in Bedfordshire and another is on display at Hever Castle, Kent


22nd September 1515


17th July 1557




Sacrarium; High Altar

Memorial Type


Black and white engraving of Anne of Cleves, her hands clasped in front of her
Anne of Cleves by Wenceslaus Hollar, after Hans Holbein the Younger

© National Portrait Gallery, London [Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0]

Stone tomb of Anne of Cleves with carvings of lions' heads and skulls and crossed bones
Anne of Cleves tomb

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster

AC initials of Anne of Cleves carved on the side of her tomb
Anne's initials on the tomb

This image can be purchased from Westminster Abbey Library

Image © 2024 Dean and Chapter of Westminster