It is a fictionalised account of the lives of 16th-century aristocrats Mary Boleyn , one-time mistress of King Henry VIII , and her sister, Anne , who became the monarch's ill-fated second wife, though the film does not represent history accurately. King Henry VIII 's marriage to Catherine of Aragon is troubled as she has not produced a living male heir to the throne, having only one surviving child, Mary. Mary Boleyn marries William Carey. After the festivities, Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk and his brother-in-law Thomas Boleyn plot to install Thomas' eldest daughter, Anne , as the king's mistress, with the hope that Anne will bear him a son and improve the family's wealth and status, much to the disgust of Anne's mother, Lady Elizabeth. Despite knowing that being a mistress will damage her chances of a high ranking marriage, a reluctant Anne agrees to please her father and uncle.