I remember the smell of her perfume as I sat perched on my Grandmother’s lap. “Always remember that we are Americans by birth but Virginians by the grace of God,” she would say as she told me stories of the Virgin Queen. Growing up in the Commonwealth of Virginia I have always felt a connection to the red-haired monarch who encouraged people to think for themselves and stayed married to her country. Her epic speeches to her people, her soldiers, her court were pieces of a complex puzzle that today I still enjoy putting together.
As a woman she transformed England into a time of wealth and prosperity; all the more impressive since by standards of the time she should never have had the chance. Her dedication to her people, her firm belief in the rights of all her subjects to worship as they saw fit, are all attributes that would still be valued in leaders today. So why am I still so fascinated by her?
I must admit that recent movies depicting her as a fragile yet unbreakable woman have done a lot to rekindle the interest in the Renaissance and the life and legacy of Queen Elizabeth. I believed, as I watched Cate Blanchett deliver the “Heart and stomach of a King” speech to the soldiers preparing to meet the Spanish Armada, that the image was perfect. I heard teenage girls talking about Elizabeth as they left the theater using words like “cool” and “boss lady” instead of Elizabeth who? As the Assistant Principal of a Middle School I did notice more and more kids commenting on the Elizabeth poster on my door featuring Blanchett and saying, “Wow! We’re (Virginia) named after HER!” Quite a wonderful thing to see modern, techno-savvy kids google-ing a monarch who died 400+ years ago. Many students are die-hard fans of “The Tudors” on Showtime as well, and I have enjoyed talking to them about the history of that time, even if I feel the series may be a tad inappropriate for them at times!
So we are Virginians, proud of this mysterious woman who lived so long ago and was honored with a piece of land in the New World where we live today; proud to be a small connection to this incredible woman. I hope that the Elizabeth Files will inspire fans young and old to continue learning of her life and legacy, Gloriana can still teach us all. God Bless Good Queen Bess!
By Tracey Saxon