The bones of Elizabeth I, Good Queen Bess, lie mingled with those of her sister, Bloody Mary, in a single tomb at Westminster Abbey. But are they really royal remains — or evidence of the greatest conspiracy in English history?
If that is not the skeleton of Elizabeth Tudor, the past four centuries of British history have been founded on a lie.
Bram Stoker most famous as the author of Dracula had heard persistent stories that a coffin had been discovered by a clergyman at Bisley during the early 1800s, with the skeleton of a girl dressed in Tudor finery, even with gems sewn onto the cloth.
It seemed to chime with local legends persisting for centuries that an English monarch had been, in reality, a child from the village.
Above all, Stoker believed, it was the most plausible explanation why Elizabeth, who succeeded to the throne in 1558, aged 25, never married.
American author Steve Berry believes Elizabeth could have been telling the literal truth — that she had the heart of a man, because her body was male. He has spent 18 months researching the conspiracy for his novel The King’s Deception, a Dan Brown-style thriller set in 21st-century London.
I don’t read Dan the man but does that mean I have to skip Steve too?