Mary Queen of Scots’ half-brother killed her husband in bid to seize power – as letter by Elizabeth I may have solved 450-year murder mystery
- Historian claims husband of Mary, Queen of Scots was killed by her half brother
- Dr Kate Williams suggested new theory behind unsolved murder 450 years ago
- She claims Lord Darnley was murdered by Mary’s sibling James, Earl of Moray
A leading historian claims to have solved a 450-year-old murder mystery and identified the culprit who killed Mary, Queen of Scots’ husband.
Dr Kate Williams, a bestselling author and professor at the University of Reading, has suggested that Lord Darnley was murdered by Mary Stuart’s jealous half-brother James, Earl of Moray.
Her theory comes to light ahead of the release of one of the most anticipated historical dramas of the year, Mary, Queen of Scots starring Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I.
Jack Lowden stars as Lord Darnley (second left), Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart and James McArdle as Earl of Moray (right)
Accounts hitherto suggested that Lord Darnley was murdered by his kinsmen while historians claimed he died at the hands of the rebel Queen’s third husband, the Earl of Bothwell.
Mary, Queen of Scots was also implicated in the savage murder.
Their marriage had been under serious strain since they wed in 1565, and just two years later he and his squire were found dead in an orchard in Kirk o’Field, Edinburgh.
But now drawing on letters written by Elizabeth I and the lords, Dr Williams claims one suspect who went under the radar was Mary’s half-brother, James, Earl of Moray.
Not long before the bodies were discovered, an explosion had rocked Lord Darnley’s home but it is believed the blast was detonated after the murder, a possible attempt to cover the real cause of death.
However, it was impossible to determine from scant evidence whether Darnley and his valet had been strangled or suffocated.
Mary, Queen of Scots was also implicated in the savage murder of her husband. Pictured, Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart
Drawing on letters written by Elizabeth I and the lords, Dr Williams claims one suspect who went under the radar was Mary’s half-brother, James, Earl of Moray
Dr Williams told The Telegraph: ‘[James] was suspected at the time but he scrubbed it out of history. It was talked about before, the lords write that he would get rid of Darnley and he would be ‘looking through his fingers’ at it’.
‘Elizabeth I later writes to Mary and asks if she has been ‘looking through her fingers’ at it – it was an interesting use of the same phrase.’
The historian claims ‘Mary knew that Moray was involved and the lords were involved’ but she was powerless to put them on trial for the crime because they were men, and she was outnumbered.
She added: ‘Mary didn’t have the chance to do this so they were all loyal to their own family interests and to Moray.’
In 2015, a panel assembled by the Royal Society of Edinburgh was convened to consider the crime with modern investigative methods – and it concluded that Mary’s hands were clean.
‘Mary, Queen of Scots ‘ is an ambitious re-imagining of the Mary Stuart and Elizabeth I saga with starring performances from Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie
The congregated experts include pathologists, explosives experts, scientists and historians.
The inquiry appeared to exonerate Mary, but was inconclusive on cause of death, and the precise identity of perpetrators remains unknown.
Dr Williams is the author of Rival Queens about Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots, in bookshops now.
Mary Queen of Scots, will be in cinemas on Friday.