Cary Elwes is related to both Guilford Dudley and Lady Jane Grey (on his father's side). Because Dudley and Grey never had children, Elwes is the direct descendant to Dudley and Grey's siblings: Mary Dudley, Guilford's sister, and Katherine Grey, Jane's sister, who was also the wife of Edward Seymour.
In 1553, Lady Jane Grey ruled the throne in Britain for just nine days. She was aged sixteen years when she was the Queen of England. She was the Grand Niece of King Henry VIII. Jane Grey is rarely referred to as Queen Jane and is more commonly known as Lady Jane
The film portrays Jane as a dark eyed, dark haired girl when in actuality, Lady Jane Grey was very fair with blond hair and light eyes. She was described as very pleasant looking except for her freckles, which were considered unbecoming on a young lady at the time.
Helena Bonham Carter intended to go to Cambridge University when director Trevor Nunn saw her photograph in 'Tatler' in which she had been a last-minute replacement for her cousin Virginia. Nunn then gave her the lead role of Lady Jane.
Actress Helena Bonham Carter, who plays Jane the Queen of England in this film, albeit for a very short period of time, later played a queen twice in the one year. Bonham Carter has the distinction of appearing in two of the 2011 Academy Award winning movies, The King's Speech (2010) (winning 4 Oscars) and Alice in Wonderland (2010) (winning 2 Oscars). In both movies, Bonham-Carter plays a queen, Queen Elizabeth (the Queen Mum of Queen Elizabeth II) in The King's Speech (2010) and The Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland (2010). Ironically, Bonham Carter's the Red Queen image was inspired by Bette Davis's Queen Elizabeth I character in The Virgin Queen (1955) i.e. another Queen Elizabeth of England.
This was the third filmed for the cinema version of the Lady Jane story. The tale had been filmed twice before for the big screen, the most recent at the time was half a century earlier in 1936, as Nine Days a Queen (1936), and before that, the first time in 1923, about sixty-three years earlier, as Lady Jane Grey; Or, The Court of Intrigue (1923).
The film's opening prologue states: "Henry VIII died in 1547. He left the throne of England to his only son Edward [VI] and his country deeply divided between Catholic and Protestant. Edward [VI] was nine years old so the country was ruled by his uncle, the Duke of Somerset. But in 1552 the Good Duke was removed....".
Second of only three cinema movies directed by stage and television director Trevor Nunn. The first was Hedda (1975) and the third and final [to date, June 2013] was Twelfth Night or What You Will (1996). All three pictures are costume period films.
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
According to the "BritRoyals" website, Lady Jane Grey (1537-1553) was the daughter of Henry Grey and Frances Brandon. She was born on 15th October 1537 at Bradgate Park, Leicestershire, married Lord Guildford Dudley on 21st May 1553, and was proclaimed as Queen of England by her father-in-law The Duke of Northumberland on 10th July 1553. After nine days, Mary I arrived in London, Lady Jane Grey was arrested, and Mary I was crowned Queen on 1st October 1553. Lady Jane was executed on 12th February 1554 at the Tower of London, aged sixteen years, three months and twenty-eight days. Lady Jane Grey was buried at the Chapel Royal in London, England.