Elizabeth (film)

1998 film by Shekhar Kapurr

Elizabeth is a British 1998 film about the early years of the reign of Elizabeth I of England and her difficult task of learning what is necessary to be a monarch. A sequel, Elizabeth: The Golden Age was released on 2007 by Universal Pictures

Directed by Shekhar Kapur. Written by Michael Hirst.
Absolute power demands absolute loyalty.


  • Tonight I think I die.
  • I do not like wars. They have uncertain outcomes.
  • I have no desire to make windows into men's souls.
  • Aye, but marry who, your grace? Would you give me some suggestion? For some say France and others Spain, and some cannot abide foreigners at all. So I am not sure how best to please you unless I married one of each.
  • [on marriage] I do not think you should lecture me on that my lord, since you yourself have been twice divorced. And are now upon your third wife!. [Opposing ministers laugh uproariously]
  • Each of you must vote according to your conscience. But remember this. In your hands, upon this moment, lies the future happiness of my people, and the peace of this realm. Let that be upon your conscience also.
  • This is the Lord's doing. And it is marvelous in our eyes.
  • There will be no more talk of marriage.
  • A man will confess to anything...under torture.
  • Kat...I have become a virgin.
  • Observe, Lord Burghley, I am married...to England.

Sir Francis Walsingham

  • I say a prince should rather be slow to take action and should watch that he does not come to be afraid of his own shadow.
  • [to Elizabeth] Madam, if I may. A prince should never flinch from being blamed for acts of ruthlessness which are necessary for safeguarding the state and their own person. You must take these things so much to heart that you do not fear to strike. Even the very nearest that you have if they be implicated.
  • [to a priest he is having tortured] Tell me, what is God to you? Has he abandoned you? Is he such a worldly god that he must play at politics in the filth of conspiracy? Is he not divine? Tell me the truth, as if you were face to face with him now. I'm a patient man, Father.
  • To Norfolk The dead have no titles.


  • Sir Robert Dudley: [to Elizabeth] Remember who you are. Do not be afraid of them.
  • Norfolk: [about Elizabeth] She is just a child and yet still you piss yourselves!
  • Norfolk: [to Mary, on her deathbed, as she refuses to sign a warrant for Elizabeth's execution] Will you leave your kingdom to a heretic?
  • Arundel: War is a sin, but sometimes, a necessary one.
  • De la Quadra: [to Dudley] My lord, what will a man not do for love?
  • Duc d'Anjou: [in French] Elizabeth is a witch...a witch...and her servant is the devil!
  • Mary of Guise: Go back to England, and take this to your Queen. Hm? [in French, to herself] English blood on French colors. [turns to her officer] Send him back to his Queen, and make sure he remains alive. Tell that bastard Queen not to send children to fight Mary of Guise!
  • Sir William Cecil: He is a traitor, and his father before him. Lord Robert's head will end up on a spike, not on the pillow of a Queen.


Walsingham: There is so little beauty in this world, and so much suffering. Do you suppose that is what God had in mind? That is to say if there is a god at all. Perhaps there is nothing in this universe but ourselves. And our thoughts.
[Servant holds dagger to Walsingham's throat]
Walsingham: Think before you do this. If you must do it, do it now and without regret. But first think, and be certain why it needs to be done.
[Servant lowers dagger; Walsingham walks to window]
Walsingham: Come here. Look out there. There is a whole world waiting for you. Innocence is the most precious thing you possess. Lose that and you lose your soul.
[Walsingham slits the servant's throat]

Elizabeth: We all believe in God, my Lords.
Lord Howard: No, Madam, there is only one true belief; the other, heresy.

Arundel: Madam, you are cold.
Elizabeth: I do not need your pity.
Arundel: Accept it, then, for my sake.
Elizabeth: Thank you. I shall not forget this kindness.

Mary: When I look at you I see nothing of the King. Only that whore, your mother. My father never did anything so well as to cut off her head.
Elizabeth: Your Majesty forgets he was also my father.
Mary: Why will you not confess your crimes against me?
Elizabeth: Because, Your Majesty, I have committed none.
Mary: You speak with such sincerity! I see you are still a consummate actress. My husband is gone. They have poisoned my child. They say it is a tumour.
Elizabeth: Madam, you are not well.
Mary: They say this cancer will make you Queen, but they are wrong! Look there! It is your death warrant. All I need do is sign it.
Elizabeth: Mary, if you sign that paper, you will be murdering your own sister.
Mary: You will promise me something? When I am gone, you will do everything in your power to uphold the Catholic faith. Do not take away from the people the consolations of the Blessed Virgin.
Elizabeth: When I am Queen...I promise...to act as my conscience dictates.
Mary: Well, do not think to be Queen at all, then. You may return to your own house at Hatfield, but you will remain there under arrest until I am recovered.

Servant: Your Grace, Protestants are already returning from abroad.
Norfolk: Yes. And have made plans to massacre every Catholic in England. There would be butchery indeed if such a plan were even conceivable.
Norfolk's Man: They say Walsingham will return from France.
Norfolk: Walsingham is nothing! (to servant) Be sure he does not.

Dudley: You blush, Lady Knollys. Are you in love?
Isabel Knollys: No, my lord.
Dudley: Then you should be, or waste all that beauty.

Elizabeth: He then said that this King would marry me but would not expect to share my bed more than two or three times a year.
Dudley: As much as that?
Elizabeth: Well, he...he is enraptured.
Dudley: Naturally.
Elizabeth: But... his affairs would otherwise keep him in Spain.
Dudley: Then the King is a fool. What could ever be important enough to keep him from your bed?
Elizabeth: Robert, you should not say such things.
Dudley: Then I shall only think them.

Dudley: When you are Queen...
Elizabeth: I am not... I am not Queen yet.
Dudley: You will be. Elizabeth, Queen of England. A court to worship you. A country to obey you. Poems written celebrating your beauty. Music composed in your honour, and they will be nothing to you. I will mean nothing to you.
Elizabeth: (Laughs) How could you ever be nothing to me? Robert, you know you are everything to me.
Dudley: All that I am it is you.

Cecil: Your Majesty has inherited a most parlous and degenerate state. It's threatened from abroad by France and Spain and is weaker in men, monies and riches than I have ever known it.
Elizabeth: What are you saying?
Cecil: Madam, your treasury is empty. The Navy is run-down, there is no standing army, and no munitions. There is not a fortress that could withstand a single shot.
Elizabeth: I have no desire for war, sir.
Cecil: But that is not the end of it. Apart from abroad, here at home there are those who wish Your Majesty ill. Mary of Scots has already laid claim to your throne, and Norfolk...Norfolk covets it relentlessly. Madam, until you marry and produce an heir, you will find no security.
Elizabeth: I do not see why a woman need marry at all.

Cecil: Does Her Majesty sleep?
Kat Ashley: Not yet, Sir William. She is... overwrought.
Cecil: I will need you to show me Her Majesty's sheets every morning. I must know all her proper functions.
Kat Ashley: Proper functions, My Lord?
Cecil: Indeed. Her Majesty's body and person are no longer her own property. They belong to the State.

Walsingham: I regret to inform Your Majesty of our miserable defeat in Scotland. The Bishops still demand Your Majesty's removal. They find support in every quarter. Alas, Madam, we are come already to catastrophe.
Elizabeth: How dare you come into my presence! Why do you follow me here?
Walsingham: It is my business to protect Your Majesty, against all things.
Elizabeth: I do not need protection. I need to be left alone!
Walsingham: Majesty...
Elizabeth: They should never have been sent to Scotland. My father would not have made such a mistake. I have been proved unfit to rule. That is what you all think, is it not, Walsingham?
Walsingham: It is not for me to judge you.
Elizabeth: Why did they send children? Why did they not send proper reinforcements?
Walsingham: The Bishops would not let them. They spoke against it in the pulpits.
Elizabeth: Then...they are speaking against their Queen.
Walsingham: Madam, the Bishops are against you and have no fear of you. They do not expect you to survive.

Anjou: Yes, I am Anjou, yes! I am Anjou. My God! She loves it! And I can't wait... [In French] Je le rêve du moment quand nous sommes nus ensemble au lit où je peux caresser votre cuisse et peut-être même votre quinny? Aimeriez-vous cela? [English Translation] I dream of the moment when we are naked together in bed where I can stroke your thigh and perhaps even your quinny? Hm? Would you like that?
Elizabeth: Remove your hand. Perhaps, Your Grace, we shall think on it, but I am deeply religious.
Anjou: But I am very religious, too. Very religious, yes!

Elizabeth: Such piercing eyes! And very indiscreet!
Dudley: My true love has my heart and I have hers. My heart in me keeps her and me in one. My heart in her, her thoughts and senses guide. She loves my heart for once it was her own. I cherish hers because in me it bides. My true love has my heart and I have hers. Marry me.
Elizabeth: On a night such as this, could any woman say "no"?
Dudley: On a night such as this could a Queen say "no"?
Elizabeth: Does not a Queen sit under the same stars as any other woman?

Anjou: The Queen is very intimate with Lord Robert, no? With me she plays the shrew. With him the lover? Her life depends on the feelings of my heart, yes?
Monsieur de Foix: She is a woman, Sire. They say one thing but mean another. No man can unlock their secrets.
Anjou: (In French) Unless they have a very big key! Yes! A VERY BIG KEY!

Elizabeth: I narrowly escaped with my life, sir. I cannot now discuss marriage.
Cecil: Forgive me...the one cannot be separated from the other.

Dudley: For God's sake, you are still my Elizabeth.
Elizabeth: I am not your Elizabeth! I am no man's Elizabeth. And if you think to rule here, you are mistaken. I will have one mistress here... and no master!

Dudley: It matters nothing to me. I can live without her most happily. Better than I could live with her. I have no need of her love. Have I not suffered enough already for loving her and showing it?
Anjou: I envy you, my Lord. To love a woman so deeply.
Dudley: Monseigneur... envy no man for that. Such love is hateful. It tears the soul apart. Envy a man who has never known such love.

Mary of Guise: I hear you are a wise man, Sir Francis, and a creature of the world like me.
Walsingham: Yes. I have no illusions. I know it is only a matter of time before my Queen is overthrown. Her Majesty rules with the heart, not with the head.
Mary of Guise: I understand. It is hard for a woman to forget her heart. But, er...what of you, Walsingham?
Walsingham: A wise man would be careful not to put himself in the way of harm.
Mary of Guise: And how would a wise man do that?
Walsingham: He would, as I said, change allegiance.
Mary of Guise: Allegiance?
Walsingham: There are but two choices. He would get into bed with either Spain or France.
Mary of Guise: [laughs] And whose bed would you prefer?

Dudley: You are in the greatest danger. You must believe me. But you have a friend. Someone who can guarantee your safety and your throne.
Elizabeth: A friend?
Dudley: The King of Spain.
Elizabeth: [to her servants] Leave us. [to Dudley] How would he guarantee it?
Dudley: He would marry you.
Elizabeth: Only to make an alliance. Nothing more. He would not expect to...
Dudley: He would live in Spain.
Elizabeth: Why do you do this, Robert?
Dudley: Because I love you. And though you will not see me, I am the only one who would care for you.
Elizabeth: You love me so much you would have me be your whore?
Dudley: For God's sake, I do this for us. I ask you to save some part of us!
Elizabeth: Lord Robert, you may make whores of my Ladies but you shall not make one of me.

Cecil: Your Majesty must publicly dissociate herself from this most bloody act.
Elizabeth: I never ordered it.
Cecil: Of course, Madam, of course. You must also make conciliatory gestures towards the Spanish. Your dependence upon their goodwill is greater than ever.
Elizabeth: I must... The word "must" is not used to princes. I have followed your advice in all the affairs of my kingdom, but your policies would make England nothing but part of France or Spain. From this moment I am going to follow my own opinion.
Cecil: Forgive me, Madam, but you are only a woman.
Elizabeth: I may be a woman, Sir William, but if I choose I have the heart of a man! I am my father's daughter. I am not afraid of anything.
Cecil: I... I deeply regret, Madam, if I have caused you such offence, though God knows all my advice has only ever been to secure Your Majesty's throne.
Elizabeth: And I am grateful for it. I have decided to create you Lord Burghley, so you may enjoy your retirement in greater ease.

Walsingham: Your Grace is arrested. You must go with these men to the Tower.
Norfolk: I must do nothing by your orders. I am Norfolk.
Walsingham: You were Norfolk. The dead have no titles. You were the most powerful man in England and could have been greater still but you had not the courage to be loyal. Only the conviction of your own vanity.
Norfolk: I think, Walsingham, a man's courage is in the manner of his death. I am content to die for my beliefs. So cut off my head and make me a martyr. The people will always remember it.
Walsingham: No...they will forget.

Dudley: Your Majesty...
Elizabeth: They are all gone to the Tower. Your friends. Tell me, how should I serve thee, Robert?
Dudley: My course is run.
Elizabeth: Just tell me why.
Dudley: Why? Madam, is it not plain enough to you? It is no easy thing to be loved by the Queen. It would corrupt the soul of any man. Now, for God's sake, kill me.
Elizabeth: No...I think rather to let you live.
Walsingham: Madam, that is not wise. Lord Robert has committed treason. He must be made example of.
Elizabeth: And I will make an example of him. He shall be kept alive to always remind me of how close I came to danger.

Elizabeth: I have rid England of her enemies. What do I do now? Am I to be made of stone? Must I be touched by nothing?
Walsingham: Aye, Madam, to reign supreme. All men need something greater than themselves to look up to and worship. They must be able to touch the divine here on earth.


Wikipedia has an article about: