Historical Events  People
Henry VIII

An old painting of Henry VIII holding a turkey leg exists

An old painting of Henry VIII holding a turkey leg does not exist

Did the painting exist?

Many people remember the larger-than-life figure of Henry VIII in a painting, often in school hallways or dining rooms, where he is featured holding a large turkey leg.

The problem is there is no record today of that painting actually existing, even though a few references to it exist - including a Simpsons episode.

Many paintings of Henry VIII can be found today, but there is a Royal protocol which means no member of the Royal family can be officially represented whilst eating.

There is a painting - shown here - where he is holding a mirror, and at first glance it could be mistaken for a turkey leg. Could this be the one causing the confusion? The connection between a big man and food may have subconsciously played its part on peoples memories down the years, leaving them with the impression they definitely did see the painting.


Whilst the argument that turkey's weren't around in Henry VIII's time might well be true, it doesn't actually debunk the idea of the painting because chickens, pheasants and guinea fowl certainly were and would have been eaten exactly as a turkey is.

Charles Laughton played Henry VIII in the famous 1933 movie where he's exaggerating the figure deliberately, including a scene where he eats almost all of a whole chicken. Anyone having seen this would form the association in their mind since it's a very distinctive scene..Also, many people associate large men with food anyway, and a king with a turkey leg would be a natural fit for this.

Since this Mandela Effect first appeared, many have said they remember the painting on the wall of their school, and it's become one of the more popular ones.