“I may not be a lion, but I am lion’s cub and I have lion’s heart”
On this day in 1603 Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen, passed into infinity. She was 70 years old and had been the Queen of England for 45 years, almost 10 years longer than her father, and decades longer than her siblings, Edward and Mary.
One of the most widely spread quotes attributed to Elizabeth is that she was “but a feeble woman”. That, too, is a way of ruling a court, its courtiers and a country, and a way to get adversaries to let their guard down. But I don´t believe that Elizabeth herself even for a second considered herself feeble. She knew her strength.
I won´t use this text to run through some spectacular moments during her reign – as I actually first planned to do – not least because they each and every one deserve their own time and post.
Let´s just take the time to give a thought to a remarkable woman and monarch who beat the odds and to a very large extent shaped her own destiny.
Elizabeth died around 10 o´clock in the evening while the rain was pouring down outside. She is said to have turned her face to the wall and fallen into a deep sleep from which she would never again wake up*.
After her death, a ring made from ruby, diamonds, gold and mother of pearl, was removed from her finger. Inside it, there was a small compartment containing two miniatures of Elizabeth herself and her mother, Anne Boleyn.
The ring was publically revealed for the first time in 2002, almost 400 years after Elizabeth´s death.
It is said that it was Robert Carey who removed the ring from her finger and thereafter rode for three days to reach Scotland and let James IV of Scotland know that he was now James I of England.
The proclamation of Elizabeth´s death was read by Robert Cecil – the queen´s advisor and son to William Cecil who had stood by Elizabeth for close to 50 years – first at White Hall and then at St. Paul´s Cathedral. No doubt there were those among her subjects who found it incomprehensible that the Queen was dead. After the turbulence that followed the death of Henry VIII, the people of England had now been ruled by the same monarch for more than four decades and many would not personally have remembered a time when good queen Bess was not on the throne.
On the 28th of April, Elizabeth´s coffin was drawn by four horses draped in black livery and over the coffin was a covered by a large canopy carried be six Knights of the realm, and behind her coffin came procession consisting of from the beginning 1 000 mourners, a number which swelled as the procession made its way through London.
She rests in Westminster Abbey.
The Reign of Elizabeth: 1558 – 1603 – J.B. Black
Elizabeth – David Starkey
The life of Elizabeth I – Alison Weir