Starkey's Elizabeth

David Starkey introduces our special issue, and the Greenwich exhibition.

Elizabeth is extraordinary. She looks extraordinary. She behaves in an extraordinary way. And, as a woman moving so effortlessly in a man’s world, she is doubly extraordinary.

But we often think of her as being extraordinary for the wrong reasons. We think of Elizabeth, above all, as that bizarre confection of the last part of the reign: bejewelled, bewigged, beruffed, and utterly artificial. I invite you to consider a very different Elizabeth, as she was when she was young – as she appears in the painting executed, almost certainly, in the last month of her father’s life, January 1547. Here she is completely natural, and she looks what she is: a rather shy, rather awkward teenager.

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