She walks alone. She stands alone. She rules alone. My beautiful Elizabeth, married to England she so tells me. Since Amy died, years I’ve waited, strung along like a fish on the line, consort and married in all but name and intimacy. For the last 20 years, I have not left her side. For the last 20 years, I have done her bidding, organized her grand events, represented her with ambassadors, built her economy, patronized the arts, counseled her wisely. Though in chambers adjoined to hers, for the last 20 years, I have pined for her, kissing, touching and fondling just an erotic tease. Yes there have been women, but when with them, only with the thought of her — an elaborate fantasy played out to maintain my sanity, maintain my manhood. Bess is the love of my life, and my heart does reassure, I hers, and all do hate me for it. Jealous bastards the other Privy Counselors are. They paint me as an opportunist, a wife murderer, a liar and thief. They know me not. Cecil and Walsingham, they know me not. Hatton, Raleigh and Parker, they know me not.
Francis, Duke of Alencon and Anjou, a son and brother of French Kings; this is the man Cecil and the bitch Catherine DeMedici picked for her. God why? Anjou is short, marked by small pox, devoid of interest in hunting, horsemanship and sports. Rumors say he is into buggery. And this is who Cecil picks for my Elizabeth? A toad for the beauty of Christendom? The man is not even loyal to his own kin, imprisoned once under one brother’s rule, disloyal to the second again. And he will be loyal to Gloriana? To England? Cecil must be desperate, eager to marry her off to a foreign noble before the stop of her bleeds. Oh how I live for those days, those days after the bleeds stop, as we will be free to make love at last — free to be one at last.
As I sit here in the Great Hall, I watch the courting of the frog to the Queen, and it sickens me. To seal an alliance, there must be a better way. To defend from the Spanish, there must be a better way. God enlighten us. The French ambassador walks by me, tips a nod and glares, the battle won this day in his feeble mind. I worry not. My Elizabeth belongs to no man, no man — not the frog, not the Holy Roman Emperor, not the Bishop of Rome, not Cecil and the Privy Council, not me. As the courtiers and ladies dance, I think back upon our life together, our love together. We grew up and learned from Ascham, together. We languished in The Tower, and nearly died at her sister’s hand, together. We lived, loved, danced, planned, worshiped, prayed, and grew older and wiser, together. Yes, she loves me. Yes, she cherishes me. Yes, she wants me. Yes, she owns me, not the other way around, and as it should be. For my Elizabeth, my lover, my heart, my Queen, I give my soul. I bend a knee.