9 Royal Ghosts That Still Haunt Britain to This Day

Updated: Aug. 17, 2021

From Elizabeth I to Henry the VIII still hobbling about Windsor Castle, royal ghosts have been making the rounds about Britain for centuries.

CastleSavvapanf Photo/Shutterstock

Anne Boleyn

King Henry VIII’s second wife, Queen Anne Boleyn, was beheaded by sword in the Tower of London on May 19, 1536 after she was accused by her husband of adultery and incest with her brother. Perhaps innocent of her crimes, Anne’s restless spirit has been rumored to roam by the Queen’s House, near where she was executed. She has also been spotted at the head of a procession of Casper-like lords and ladies at the Chapel Royal of St. Peter and Vincula. She is buried beneath the Chapel’s altar. Her headless body has also been spotted gliding across the corridors of the Tower. And according to HistoricUK.com, on the anniversary of her death, Anne has made an appearance at Blickling Hall in Norfolk, where she may have been born.

Queen Elizabeth I

Anne Boleyn’s daughter never married and ruled Britain for 44 years and has never really left. The Virgin Queen has been spotted in Windsor Castle floating from the royal library to an inner room. Other members of the royal family have said to have interacted with this most famous monarch’s spirit. Both King George III and King Edward VII, said they saw a woman dressed in a black gown who may have been the Queen. In fact, King George III supposedly spoke to the most royal of ghosts where she told him she was “married to England.” But King George vi, father to Queen Elizabeth II, has them both beat as he has claimed to have seen the Tudor Queen eight nights in a row upon the onset of WWII. Most recently, Steve Wesson, in an investigation with UK Ghost Hunts, visited Strelley Hall, in Strelley, Nottinghamshire and claimed to have captured Queen Elizabeth I hovering in a cellar archway on film. Supposedly she’d slept in Strelley Hall at one time. Find out the most haunted places in America.

Catherine Howard

Not be outdone by her executed predecessor and second cousin, Anne Boleyn, Queen Catherine was only a teen when she became King Henry VIII’s wife and only a mere 19 years old when she was killed for the same reason as Anne: Adultery. Although she may have been cheating on her very much older and sickly sugar daddy of a King, and affairs are no stranger to the modern royals as well, it was considered treason. Young Catherine begged to speak with Henry VIII after escaping her apartment in Hampton Court where she’d been imprisoned, only to be dragged back by the guards. She never did get to plead her case to her husband. Perhaps that is why she has been spotted running down the “Haunted Hallway” screaming and crying.

Prince Edward V and Prince Richard, Duke of York

These two young boys were taken to the Tower of London in 1483 because King Richard III did not want his nephews to usurp him as king. Only 12 and 9 years old when they were locked away, no one really knows what became of them, although some believe they were likely killed. Their apparitions can be spotted staring from the windows of the ghostly tower. According to Haunted Places in the World, “the princes have been spotted in the Bloody Tower wearing white nightgowns and holding hands. They never make a sound and can only be seen for a few fleeting moments before they fade into the stonework.” Read on for chilling real ghost stories that will make a believer out of you.

King Edward VII’s Secretary

The royal family is no stranger to stories of scandal (even Queen Elizabeth has her share), you need a thick skin to survive—or not. Although it may not seem like a big deal, back during King Edward VII’s reign from 1901 to 1910, his private secretary, Major John Gwynne, caused quite a stir when he divorced his wife. Conscious uncoupling may be a thing today but back in the 1900s divorce was a big no-no. Major Gwynne couldn’t handle the scrutiny and rumors. After being shunned by his upper-crust peers the pressure got to him and he took a bullet to his own head in the first-floor office of Buckingham Palace. The Queen’s official workplace staffers have reported a strange aura in that room and supposedly a single gunshot has been heard coming from that room.

Dame Sybil Penn

As nurse and servant to Prince Edward and Queen Elizabeth I, it is likely that Dame Sybil Penn would have been exposed to lots of germs in Britain. In 1562, she succumbed to smallpox and died, but as a faithful servant and caregiver, she continues to visit the Victorian family at Hampton Court Palace—although according to palace officials she didn’t start appearing until the 1800s when Hampton church, where she was buried, was taken down. Since then, she is said to frequently appear among the various rooms within the 16th-century palace. Onthetudortrail.com notes that “after Sybil’s resting place was disturbed, people began hearing the sound of a spinning wheel from behind a wall of the southwest wing of the palace. Upon further investigation, an old chamber was discovered and inside lay an antique spinning wheel.”

Queen Victoria

King Edward VIII let his brother take the crown instead of him—for love. Quite the scandal in 1936, his romance with the still married Wallis Simpson from the United States was the reality TV of its time. Ms. Simpson had grand ideas for Windsor Castle and attempted to remove spruce trees planted by her lover’s great-grandparents, Queen Victoria and Prince Albert. As the story goes, the trees were never removed as the workers were scared away by the clearly unhappy spirit of Queen Victoria waving her arms and moaning loudly. Read on to learn more about the most haunted hotels in America.

Saint Henry Walpole

Anmer Hall in Norfolk is part of the Queen’s Sandringham estate and was a gift to her grandchildren, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Besides a complete overhaul to bring the house back to its Georgian-era roots, Kate and William were also given its ghostly occupant,  Saint Henry Walpole. The Walpole family originally owned the estate, but Henry’s life did not end well. He was tortured at the Tower of London for his Catholic conversion and finally hung in 1595. His spirit is said to haunt the grounds of his old home. According to Express.co.uk, the royal couple didn’t have an issue with sharing their home with a ghost and instead said, “No old home would be complete without its ghost.”

King Henry VIII

Said to be Queen Elizabeth II’s favorite place to live, Windsor Castle must also be the favorite of King Henry VIII as he hasn’t seemed to have left even though he died hundreds of years ago. Many witnesses have spied his spirit wandering amidst the rooms of the castle looking despondent and agitated, specifically, “a large man pacing furiously and shouting loudly.” Since he beheaded two of his wives and had many others executed on his orders, this may be one majestic spirit to avoid.