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Queen Elizabeth is the wife of King Edward, the Lady Gray of Henry VI, Part Three

A penniless widow with children when she married the King, she is hated by most of the old nobility for her rise to power and the way her family has snuck its way into aristocratic ranks (see Henry VI, Part Three). Despite her best efforts, she is unable to gain their friendship and is blamed for all of King Edward’s unpopular decisions, which leaves her terrified of what will happen to her and her family once the very ill King dies. She puts up with a great deal from her opponents, but even her patience has its limits and she sometimes snaps, especially at her brother-in-law Richard, the worst of her detractors and a man she rightly fears. The fact that he is to be Protector over her son until his majority shakes her, and she flies to sanctuary with her younger son York to attempt to avoid the calamities she foresees. This is unfortunately unsuccessful, as York is taken from her and she is separated from her children forever. Her brother Rivers is executed, along with her son by a previous marriage, Gray; she urges her last remaining son, Dorset, to flee. She promises to do anything to have her daughters spared by Richard, and is shocked and horrified when Richard proposes to marry her daughter Elizabeth. His persuasion appears to convince her to try to get her daughter’s agreement to the marriage, but she may simply be dissembling to give herself time to get away. Her daughter ends up marrying Richmond. Queen Elizabeth is rarely strong, and generally takes fate’s blows without trying to avoid them; her suffering is almost constant throughout the play, and she is haunted by Queen Margaret’s curse on her.


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