New show to exhibit ‘rivalry’ among 16th-century English royalty

New Delhi, Sep 11 (IANSlife) Starting early October, a new exhibition will give a deep insight into the history of the English royal family, and present the story from amicable beginnings to distrust and betrayal. Titled ‘Elizabeth and Mary: Royal Cousins, Rival Queens’ it is the first major exhibition to consider Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots together.

According to the British Library, the upcoming exhibition explores the complex relationship between the two powerful queens, bound together by their shared Tudor heritage, whose turbulent relationship dominated English and Scottish politics for thirty years, through their own words.

“Despite their fates being intertwined, the queens never met and their relationship was played out at a distance, much of it by letter; this exhibition offers a rare opportunity to see original correspondence written in their own hands and words,” says British Library.

Drawing on the British Library’s collection of early modern manuscripts and printed books, Elizabeth and Mary’s autographed letters will be displayed alongside 16th-century state papers, speeches and cipher documents, as well as beautiful maps, drawings and woodcut engravings to illustrate key moments and events. There will also be paintings, jewels, textiles, maps, drawings and objects borrowed from private and public collections in the UK and Spain.

Revealing a dangerous world of plots, espionage and treachery, ‘Elizabeth and Mary: Royal Cousins, Rival Queens’ will explore how the drama unfolded against the backdrop of an England and Scotland, deeply divided between Protestants and Catholics and a Europe torn apart by religious conflicts and civil wars.

Dr Andrea Clarke, lead curator of the exhibit, said: “Almost 500 years on, the story of Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots continues to fascinate and enthral. It is a story of two women whose lives were indissolubly connected, for not only were they fellow sovereign queens but also, as Mary reminded Elizabeth in countless letters to her, ‘both of one blood, of one country and in one island’. It is remarkable that many of the themes woven through the exhibition narrative, such as Anglo-Scottish relations, international diplomacy and Europe, state surveillance and espionage, still have a deep resonance today.”

The exhibition continues till February 20, 2022.

(Siddhi Jain can be contacted at