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6 great books about British queens

And here you thought your wedding was a bit on the stressful side. At least you're not Kate Middleton, whose every step – especially any misstep – will be broadcast live to the world. It won't get any easier if she ever becomes the consort of the king. On the bright side, she's marrying a handsome and energetic young man. Then again, Henry VIII's first queen did the exact same thing. As for the five that followed her, well, as the old rhyme puts it: "Divorced, beheaded, died. Divorced, beheaded, survived." As she figures out her strategy to keep her position (and her man), "Waity Katie" might be wise to sit back and read these instructive books about Henry VIII's queens. This time around, let's hope only the lessons roll, with everyone's heads staying right where they belong.

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1. The First Queen: She Who Fought

The teenage Catherine of Aragon surely looked forward to a peaceful life of motherhood and wifely duties when she, for the second time, wed an English prince. (The first one had died.) But this "quietly fierce" queen, as writer Giles Tremlett puts it, ended up facing one of the most consequential decisions in history: would she accept a divorce from her husband or fight with all of her might?

She did the latter: "She will defend both her concept of her marriage and her concept of religion basically to the point of martyrdom," Tremlett told me in an interview earlier this year. His new book, "Catherine of Aragon: The Spanish Queen of Henry VIII," is an absolute delight.

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