The first time I heard the popular chant about the fate of Henry VIII’s wives, I wondered how it must have affected Elizabeth psychologically. I think I was eight. I imagined the whole scene like a courtroom drama with a young and angered Elizabeth, perhaps around the same age as me, staring out at her father as he tried to justify his actions from the dock. When I later saw portraits of her with this strange ornamental “ruff” around her neck, it seemed obvious to me that the emotion scarring brought on by her mother’s beheading was making itself known through her sartorial choices.
I imagined everyone in her court whispering behind her back the day she first wore it out and about. Word spreading like wildfire that the queen's new neck accessory was a clearly a deep-rooted psychological barrier brought on by daddy issues. But that they all hastily adopted the look out of a double-edged fear. All of the Tudors were quite handsy with an axe and everyone was afraid of losing their head. So, I could easily see how a large starched disc protruding at right angles from the neck would catch on.
This is the theory that I have carried around since childhood. Only since broaching my ruff theory with other human beings has it come to my attention that unequivocally nobody else thinks this or has ever really stopped to think about it. Still, to me the evidence is compelling and I present Exhibits A, B, C to the court.