England this year is celebrating the 500th birthday of King Henry VIII, famous for having six wives and beheading two of them.

"We are well aware of all the wives and we won't gloss over what happened, but there are many other exciting things about his reign that are worth remembering," said Jane Tchan, head of marketing at the English Tourist Board.A display of portraits of the king is already on show at Hampton Court, one of his favorite palaces.

Henry was born on June 28, 1491, became king in 1509 and died in 1547, the most colorful ruler in the 1,000-year monarchy.

He severed England from the Roman Catholic Church, fought wars against Scotland and France, built up the navy and was highly popular with the common people.

Henry's first and fourth wives, Catherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves, were divorced and his second and fifth wives, Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard, were beheaded for alleged adultery.

His third wife, Jane Seymour, died while queen and the sixth, Catherine Parr, outlived him.

Henry's daughter by Anne Boleyn became Queen Elizabeth I, the greatest queen in English history.