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Thieves make off with Queen Mary’s gold rosary

Arundel Castle, West Sussex

Piranhi | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 05/26/21 - updated on 05/31/21

The rosary was the only artifact to survive from the life of Mary, Queen of Scots.

A set of golden rosary beads once belonging to Mary, Queen of Scots has been stolen. The historical artifact, valued at over $1.4 million, was lifted from Arundel Castle, where it was housed. The thieves also made off with several other gold and silver items that were on display. 

Reuters reports that the incident occurred on Friday, May 21, 2021. Arundel Castle, which only recently reopened for tours, registered the break in at 10:30 p.m. By the time police arrived, the thieves had already made off with their spoils. Police are investigating a car that was found on fire shortly after the break-in.

Mary, who was at one time queen of France, was ousted from power in Scotland in favor of her infant son James in 1568. Fleeing to England, she found refuge with her cousin Elizabeth I, but this safety was not to last. Fearing Mary’s claim to the throne, Elizabeth’s hospitality turned to scorn. Mary was imprisoned, convicted of plotting against the crown, and eventually sentenced to death.

The rosary

In 1587, Mary reportedly carried her golden rosary, the last of her possessions, to her execution site. The artifact would become treasured as the only remaining memento of the Queen of Scots. This is one reason why its theft is of national concern in Britain. 

In a report from ICN, Professor Kate Williams of Reading University explained:

“When Mary fled Scotland into England most of her belongings were despoiled and shared out. Then after she was executed, nearly everything she had was taken and burned because people were concerned she would turn into a Catholic martyr. So we had one tiny memorial of Mary Queen of Scots — and now it has gone.”

There have yet to be any suspects named in the investigation. Authorities note that, as the castle only reopened on Tuesday, May 18, the theft may have been carried out by a recent visitor. They are asking anyone with relevant information on the theft to come forward. 

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