Elizabeth I, on the occasion of her accession to the English throne:
And as I am but one body naturally considered, though by His permission a body politic to govern, so shall I desire you all … to be assistant to me, that I with my ruling and you with your service may make a good account to Almighty God and leave some comfort to our posterity on earth.
This is in accordance with the political theology of the time, which called for the monarch to be both an individual person and the embodiment of the aspirations of the nation.
An American author is now suggesting that there’s a wholly different body involved:
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.
Steve Berry, author of The King’s Deception (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2013), suggests that the real Elizabeth died at age ten, and was replaced by a stand-in:
[T]here was a boy, from a local family called Neville. He was a gawky, angular youth a year or so younger than Elizabeth, who had been the princess’s companion and fellow pupil for the past few weeks. And with no time to look further afield for a stand-in, [Thomas] Parry and Lady [Kat] Ashley took the desperate measure of forcing the boy to don his dead friend’s clothes.
Remarkably, the deception worked. Henry [VIII] saw his daughter rarely, and was used to hearing her say nothing. The last time she had been presented in court, meeting the new Queen Catherine Parr, she had been trembling with terror.
Noting that a DNA test had been run on the remains of Richard III, found recently under a car park in Leicester, Berry wants the joint tomb popped open and the bones analyzed. I suspect he will not get his wish.