★★★★★ – The Times
Elizabeth and Mary: Royal Cousins, Rival Queens (8 October 2021 – 20 February 2022) is the first major exhibition to consider Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots together, putting them both centre stage and giving them equal billing. The exhibition takes a fresh and revealing look at the infamous story of two powerful queens bound together by their shared Tudor heritage, whose turbulent relationship dominated English and Scottish politics for thirty years.
From amicable beginnings to distrust and betrayal, the exhibition explores the complex relationship between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots 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 their original correspondence.
Drawing on the British Library’s outstanding collection of early modern manuscripts and printed books, Elizabeth and Mary’s autograph 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.
Dr Andrea Clarke, lead curator of Elizabeth and Mary: Royal Cousins, Rival Queens at the British Library, 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 inextricably 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.’
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.
The exhibition is sponsored by The Sir John Ritblat Family Foundation, with thanks to the John S Cohen Foundation and all supporters who wish to remain anonymous. The exhibition catalogue is supported by The Strathmartine Trust.
When: Fri 8 Oct 2021 - Sun 20 Feb 2022
Opening times and visitor information
Full Price: £16.00
Registered Unemployed: £7.00
National Art Pass Senior: £8.00
Child (0-11) : £0.00
Child (12-17): £3.50
National Art Pass: £9.00
Senior (60+): £8.00
Young Person (18-25): £7.00