The premiere of Becoming Elizabeth is coming soon to Starz. The prestige series will catalog the rise and growing pains of a Queen named Elizabeth. Not Queen Elizabeth II mind you, but Queen Elizabeth I. It may sound obvious to learn the two are related, but it’s actually rather complicated.
How Elizabeth Became Queen
Elizabeth I should never have been queen. Born the second daughter of King Henry VIII, she stood behind both her younger brother Edward VI and her older sister Mary. The modern facsimile would be if Prince Louis became king: it’s cosmically unlikely for the third in line to ever ascend.
Yet ascend she did. King Edward VI died aged 15 after a mysterious illness. Historians bicker over whether it was tuberculosis or poisoning. He left the kingdom to lady Jane Grey, but the Catholic Queen Mary saw to it that she never ascend the throne.
After years of bitterly fighting Parliament to erase the Church of England, Mary I died of cancer in 1558. Elizabeth I was coronated and spent 45 years on the throne, dying with no direct heirs of her own.
From Tudor To Windsor
Here’s where the family tree gets complicated. Since Elizabeth I had no direct heirs, control of the realm went to the house of the Stuarts. Elizabeth I’s grandfather’s sister Queen Margaret of Scotland bore Mary, Queen of Scots. Mary’s son, James I, had a daughter also named Elizabeth. Her daughter, Sophia, never lived to see the throne but did have a son: King George I.
From that point on, the family tree clears up a bit. George I was the first in the House of Hanover to rule, and direct descendants of his line reigned through Queen Victoria. From there, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha eventually made way for the house of Windsor when Elizabeth II’s grandfather, George V, became king in 1936.
Wait, So How Are They Related?
To review: Queen Elizabeth II is the great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, granddaughter of King Henry VIII’s sister Margaret. That’s 13 greats. Elizabeth I is a cousin of Margaret, Elizabeth II’s direct descendent. The two share a minuscule amount of blood between them, but the answer is yes: Elizabeth I is related to Elizabeth II. Becoming Elizabeth will explore the life of a teenage Elizabeth I and launches on Starz on June 12.