Queen Elizabeth I was the first unmarried queen in history. She was the daughter of King Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, and she ascended to the throne in 1558 at the age of 25. Early on in her reign, Queen Elizabeth I proclaimed that she would not marry because she was ‘already bound unto a husband which is the Kingdom of England’.
This proclamation was a radical departure from the traditional role of a female monarch, which was to marry and produce an heir. Elizabeth’s decision was met with disapproval from her courtiers, who feared that the lack of a male heir would lead to instability in the kingdom. Nevertheless, Elizabeth was determined to remain unmarried and devoted to her kingdom.
Despite her proclamation, numerous candidates were mooted for Elizabeth’s hand in marriage over the next two decades. These included the Archduke Charles of Austria, the Duke of Anjou, and the Earl of Leicester. Elizabeth was courted by many suitors, but she found each man unsuitable, for one reason or another.
The Earl of Leicester was particularly close to Elizabeth, and it was widely believed that she was in love with him. However, Elizabeth was aware of the political implications of marrying a subject, and she refused to take the risk. Ultimately, Elizabeth remained unmarried until her death in 1603.
Queen Elizabeth I was the first unmarried queen in history, and her decision to remain single was a radical departure from the traditional role of a female monarch. Despite numerous suitors, Elizabeth remained devoted to her kingdom and refused to marry. Her decision was a defining moment in British history, and it set a precedent for future female monarchs.