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Frequently Asked Questions

2. How accurate was the 1998 film Elizabeth?

This is the question I get asked the most, so I felt I had to include it.

It was not the intention of the film's producers to create an accurate portrayal of Queen Elizabeth's life or reign, but to create a fantasy around the actual historical events. I recommend that those who have seen the film and wish to separate the fact from fantasy read a reputable biography of the Queen, such as the book by Alison Weir, Elizabeth the Queen or David Starkey's Elizabeth.

I will list some inaccuracies below, but this list is not comprehensive.

1. When Elizabeth was taken to the Tower in 1554, Robert Dudley was already incarcerated there for his part in his father's attempt to usurp the throne for his daughter in law, Lady Jane Grey.

2. The Duke of Norfolk was not a key character in English political history until Elizabeth had been on the throne for some years, and it was 14 years into the reign before he was executed for treason.

3. Francis Walsingham likewise was not a key figure in English politics until the second decade of the Queen's reign. He began his political career as a servant of William Cecil and in the early 1570's was recalled from France to be made Secretary of State on Cecil's elevation to the Treasury.

4. Sir William Cecil was only in his thirties when Elizabeth became Queen, and remained her chief advisor for 40 years. Elizabeth never allowed him to retire. He was made Lord Burghley 13 years into the reign.

5. It is unlikely that Robert Dudley and the Queen had a sexual relationship, for various reasons, and their love affair had not begun at the time of her coronation. In all probability, the Queen was the virgin she claimed to be.

6. Mary of Guise was not killed by Francis Walsingham, but died of natural causes. Walsingham was not homosexual. Neither did he murder a young boy. Walsingham was happily married, a very religious man, and his daughter married firstly the famous poet Sir Philip Sidney, and secondly Robert Devereux, Earl of Essex.

7. France did not send a poisoned dress to kill the Queen, and none of her maids of honour were murdered.

8. The cross dressing Duke of Anjou did not come to England. It was his brother who came to England 20 years later, Francis, Duke of Alencon. He was not a cross dresser, and the Queen seriously considered marrying him.

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