Tom Canty's time as king is shaped by the reality that he is not actually the prince who has grown up being groomed for the position and accustomed to all the ways of the royal court.
Having grown up in Offal Court and observed life and death at close hand, Tom reacted based on past experience when he began to understand the plans for the funeral and burial of King Henry VIII.
"What day did he say the burial hath been appointed for?" "The 16th of the coming month, my liege." "'Tis a strange folly. Will he keep?"...he was used to seeing the forlorn dead of Offal Court hustled out of the way with a very different sort of expedition.
Tom was equally mystified and confused upon first meeting Humphrey Marlow. Tom had grown up in surroundings where he was quickly held responsible for his own actions; the idea of having a whipping boy who took beatings for him was completely foreign.
"My whipping-boy?"..."Why should he whip thee for faults of mine?"..."He always scourgeth me, when thou dost fail in thy lessons....None may visit the sacred person of the prince of Wales with blows; wherefore when he faulteth, 'tis I that take them; and meet it is and right, for that it is mine office and my livelihood."
Tom demonstrates his sympathy and understanding of the importance of Humphrey's continued employment in his position by creating him "Hereditary Grand Whipping-Boy to the royal house of England," reflecting his appreciation of the good fortune one enjoys when blessed with a steady job.