This isn't a love story with a happy ending. After years of having Robert on a string, Elizabeth is left grief stricken by his death whilst England celebrates victory over the Spanish. Alone she grieves and, Gristwood suggests, perhaps regrets not marrying Leicester when she had the chance. Theirs is a classic example of courtly love with the added bonus of the two genuinely seeming to care for one another; Elizabeth's love for Robert and Leicester's undoubted loyalty to his queen something much more than just courtly games to pass the time.
Gristwood states in the afterword that only now can historians question the relationship between Elizabeth and Leicester and not feel that if she were guilty of 'immorality', it would make her any less worthy of rule. What does it matter, really, if Elizabeth had slept with Leicester What would it change, really Her lack of commitment to anything suggests she wouldn't have married him anyway and though I remain convinced by the myth of the Virgin Queen, I think it's time that the focus of her relationship with Leicester is on something other than how physical their relationship ever got. Thankfully, this is exactly what Gristwood does, never dwelling too long on the did they or didn't they and instead showing us the relationship between the queen and her principle favourite as one of feeling, love, and loyalty amidst the backdrop of the Elizabethan court.