More than 400 years after she died, a newly discovered portrait of Mary, Queen of Scots has gone on display at Hever Castle in Kent.

The extremely rare painting of the monarch – whose life story has been dramatised in the hit movie, Mary Queen of Scots, with actress Saoirse Ronan portraying her – was officially unveiled in the castle’s Staircase Gallery earlier this month.

Paintings of Mary created during her lifetime are few and far between, and Hever Castle’s portrait was recently rediscovered in France. The work is believed to come from the studio of François Clouet (c.1510 –1572), a French Renaissance miniaturist and painter, known for his detailed portraits of the French ruling family.

The discovery of this contemporary likeness of Mary Queen of Scots is particularly important as there are only two portraits of her in mourning - the second one (in full mourning) is in the Royal Collection. The Hever work shows Mary in a form of mourning, but not the full mourning seen in earlier portraits.

Last year, Hever Castle commissioned Tudor history expert and broadcaster Dr David Starkey to curate the rehanging of the Long Gallery, with 18 original portraits to not only chronologically depict the dynastic saga of the Tudors - from the Wars of the Roses to the Reformation - but also demonstrate how such a gallery was intended as a teaching aid for young Prince Edward (later King Edward VI).

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