Elizabeth I valued female company. She loved childhood servants such as Kat Ashley, and as Queen surrounded herself with indulged, non-royal Boleyn cousins. They might have offered an alternative narrative to that of the disgraced dead mother and the extended sisterhood of royal relatives plotting against each other. But there was no escape for Elizabeth from the central issue of the Tudor succession into which she was born.
It was not just Elizabeth’s father, Henry VIII, who wanted a male heir for the English throne. As Borman helps remind us, it was successive generations of the political elite. Until Lady Jane Grey (later Dudley) became queen in July 1553, England had never had a queen who