Mary Queen of Scots’ Gold Rosary Beads, Among Other Treasures, Have Been Stolen

Mary Queen of Scots’ Gold Rosary Beads, Among Other Treasures, Have Been Stolen

Thieves broke into Arundel Castle around 10:30pm on Friday 21st May to steal multiple treasures, including the gold rosary beads of Mary Queen of Scots. The beads not only hold great monetary value, but historic value as well, as they have been the rosary beads Queen Mary carried her her death. The beads had been held by Queen Mary during her execution by Queen Elizabeth in 1587, when she was beheaded.

The Theft of the Rosary Beads

Thieves triggered the alarms surrounding the beads at around 10:30pm on Friday 21st May. The theft took place in Arundal Castle, based in West Sussex. Police believe it to be a well-thought-out operation with suspicions of it being an inside job. Their reason for this suspicion is predicated on the idea that the thieves were aware of the Duke of Norfolk, 64, and his family’s absence from the property at the time of the robbery.

Video credit: MP’s Newswatch Youtube

There were two security guards on duty at the time of the robbery. Thieves had broken into the Castle through a window and forced the cabinet open. They had them proceeded to steal over £1 million worth of treasures from the display. Along with Queen Mary’s rosary beads the thieves also took several coronation cups that had been gifted to the Earl Marshal by the sovereign. They had also stolen several other gold and silver treasures from the cabinet.

Latest Update

Speaking with the BBC, a Sussex policeman told new outlets that the beads themselves have “little intrinsic value as metal”. However, they do have significant historic value, as they are a significant representative of the nation’s heritage, as well as the Howard family history.

Mary Queen of Scots
Mary Queen of Scots’ Portrait

There is currently no further updates regarding the investigation into the theft and whereabouts of these extremely important historic artifacts. However the Sussex Police Department urges for anyone to step forward that may have information that could lead to the recovery of the Arundal Castle treasures.

The History of The Rosary Beads

Mary Queen of Scots was a devout Catholic Queen who ruled over Scotland from 14 December 1542 until 24 July 1567, when she was forced by her protestant cousin, Queen Elizabeth of England, to abdicate. She became queen when she was only six days old, and was married to the Dauphin Francis. Following the death of Henri II she became Queen Consort of France.

Queen Elizabeth of England was considered an illegitimate heir to the throne. Queen Mary, though excluded from the throne by the will of Kind Henvry VIII, carried the legitimate claim. This caused a great amount of tension between England and Scotland, as well as their differing faiths. Several years of war and political scheming eventually culminated in the capture and imprisonment of Queen Mary. in October of 1586 a trial began in which Queen Mary was accused of plots to murder Queen Elizabeth.

Queen Mary’s Trial

In the trial Queen Mary openly confessed to plotting to escape her imprisonment. However she vehemently denied any involvement in plots to murder Queen Elizabeth. Mary constantly protested her innocence “and that she had not procured or encouraged any hurt against her Majesty”. Though Mary’s status should have excused her from any wrongdoing, especially as the plotting had been undertaken by English subjects, she had been denied the privileged.

Mary, Queen of Scots, Being Led to her Execution wearing her rosary beads
The actual copyright of Mr. Laslett J. Potts’ picture, ‘Mary Queen of Scots’ is uncertain, and it is doubtful whether it belongs to the late Mr. James Virtue, our former chairman, or to Messrs. Shepherd of King St. St. James’ … Mr. Pott seems to have pa; (c) Nottingham City Museums and Galleries; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

Lord Burghley, advisor to queen Elizabeth, had refused Queen Mary all signs of royalty. He instead decided to condemn her as “Mary Stuart, commonly called Queen of Scotland“. She was eventually sentenced to death on
8 February 1587. It was on this day that Mary had carried her Rosary beads to the executioners block.

Mary Queen of Scots’ golden rosary beads have been an important piece of political history as well as a piece of English and Scottish heritage. Mary quickly became a martyr for her people, and these beads were representative of her sacrifice. It is hoped that they will be recovered, however it is more likely that they will become an article of an illegal private collection, beyond recovery.



Eloise is a lifelong gamer, a studier of Ancient History and Archaeology, a pet care journalist, a new mother of one, and film studies graduate with a desire to pass on her own knowledge so that others may benefit from it.

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