Tony Morgan Interviews Queen Elizabeth II, Daughter of James I in the alternative history Remember, Remember the 6th of November
On 5th November each year the people of the United Kingdom celebrate the tale of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot by lighting bonfires and letting off fireworks. The strange fact is they’re celebrating the failure of the plot rather than its success. In 1605 Fawkes, his leader Robert Catesby and a group of fellow conspirators planned to blow up Parliament, assassinate Protestant kill King James, murder his sons and the majority of the government.
What was the reason for this desperate act? They intended to stop the persecution of Catholics in the country and implement regime change. The plotters’ wider plans included the beginning of a country-wide rebellion and the kidnapping of the King’s elder daughter Elizabeth. In time Catesby intended to convert Elizabeth to his own religion and crown her Queen of a new and very Catholic England.
Of course, we now know the Gunpowder Plot failed. Fawkes was tortured and executed. Catesby and the others were hunted down and shot or returned to London for trial and execution. But what if the outcome had been different?
This is the backdrop for an alternate history, which author Tony Morgan explores in his well-researched novels “Remember, Remember the 6th of November” and the sequel “1617” in which Elizabeth becomes queen but takes quite a different approach to anything Robert Catesby may have imagined…
Today History Imagined meets twenty-one-year-old Queen Elizabeth II in the year 1617…
TM: Good morning your Majesty, thank you for letting me speak to you today and sharing your thoughts with the readers of History Imagined. Please could you tell us where and when you were born?
QE II: Yes, of course. I was born in the year of our Lord 1596 in Falkland Palace in Fife in Scotland. My father was King of Scotland at the time and the palace was one of his favourite places because of the good hunting nearby.
TM: When did you move south to England?
QE II: My namesake and relative Queen Elizabeth I of England died in 1603. Shortly afterwards my father was invited to add the crowns of England and Ireland to his Scots one by English Secretary of State Robert Cecil. My mother Anne, brothers Henry and Charles and myself eventually moved down to England too. My mother, God bless her, was a little reluctant at first. She’d already moved from her home once in Denmark to Scotland but she relented.
TM: What do you remember of the those first few years in England?
QE II: Not a huge amount. I was only seven. There are family memories of course, of the pomp and ceremony at the royal court and particularly of my brother Henry. He was a fine lad and I miss him but I spent much of the time living away from my family.
TM: Yes, I understand the tradition was to set up royal children in their own royal household. How did you feel about this?
QE II: It was strange. The Queen Mother, as she is now, was certainly against the idea but my father was adamant. He was always one for upholding royal traditions. I travelled north along Watling Street to Coombe Abbey in the county of Warwick with an entourage, where I was placed in the care of Lord Harington. It is spelt with one “R”. Please ensure you get this correct, he gets quite upset when people use two.
TM: This is where you met Anne Dudley?
QE II: Yes, my beautiful lovely Anne. She was my best friend then and she is my best friend now. I hesitate to think how dull things would have been without her. I did my best to ensure she received as royal an education as my own. We’ve spent so much time together since then. In many ways, we’re very alike.
TM: But then, and please excuse me for raising this your Majesty but the Lords Northumberland and Suffolk confirmed you have agreed to talk about this, your father and brothers were killed.
QE II: Yes… (at this stage the Queen paused for a few moments). As everyone knows on November 6th, 1605 the conspirators successfully destroyed Parliament House using a hidden cache of explosives stored beneath.
I found out much later that part of their plot was to kidnap me but for whatever reason these evil men failed in this task. The Earl of Suffolk led the militia which hunted them down and ensured every one of them was shot dead. I do not wish to receive personal questions about this time, such how did it make me feel, is that clear?
TM: Yes, of course your Majesty. There were fears at the time the country would descend into an all-out civil war between Catholics and Protestants. Why do you believe this didn’t happen?
QE II: That is a much better question. The risks at the time were severe. There was plague, the country was almost bankrupt, harvests had been poor for some time. A war would have been devastating and if it happened, you wouldn’t be sitting in my royal chamber talking to me now. Instead you would be interviewing someone else but in Spanish or French.
(The Queen looked across the room to her old adviser, the Earl of Northumberland. Hearing these word,s he nodded his head in a sober manner).
QE II: The new Secretary of State Suffolk and my protector the Earl of Northumberland foresaw the risk of invasion from civil unrest and acted quickly. Despite the small-scale skirmishes and reprisals on both sides, my government implemented new laws promoting religious tolerance. As all the world knows, I am no great friend of Popery, the Catholic religion or their Inquisition but I do believe a man or a woman should be allowed to pray in the church of their choice. Thankfully, the new laws enabled a peaceful transition until I was old enough to properly take my rightful place on the throne, which God has given me.
TM: Now that you are in this position, what plans do you have? What are your ambitions?
QE II: My ambition is clear. I shall transform the British Isles into the most prosperous nation of the known world. This country will become a beacon and show the rest of Europe there is a better way than religious intolerance. If they do not heed my warning, their squabbles and bigotry will lead them into decades, even a century or more, of bloodshed. I want no part of this. Mark my words, if they do not change their ways, there will be dark times ahead.
You see, we should not be looking inward but outward. I want to extend my kingdom, for example to the Americas, but again we must take a different approach to the Greeks or the Romans or Spanish. We should not conquer and enslave the natives of our new lands but place them under the protection of the laws of the new Britain, so they become part of our old and new worlds and prosper from them.
TM: These are bold plans indeed, your Majesty. Where do you plan to start?
QE II: I’ve started already. To become a shining light for the rest of the world, we must first get our own house in order. I am Queen of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland. Thankfully, tolerance is the path taken in three of my kingdoms but this is not the case in the fourth. Whilst Suffolk and Northumberland brought stability to our mainland, my father’s policies of plantation continued unchecked in Ireland. There will always be trouble there, unless we can ensure the entire population prospers, even the Catholics who currently wouldn’t acknowledge me as their queen.
TM: What do you plan to do?
QE II: I have selected a peace envoy. This man has spent a dozen years away from this country. He is a Catholic but has no vested interests in either side of the argument. I’ve sent him across the Irish Sea to investigate. He is tasked with finding an Irish leader we can do business with.
The envoy’s name is Sir Everard Digby. He was knighted by my father, shortly after he took to the throne of England before his… before what happened. I have every faith Digby will succeed in his mission.
Now, that is enough, I have important matters of state to see to.
(As I stood and bowed towards her, the Queen looked at me with that piercing stare)
QEII: You did well not to ask me my opinion of the suitors who pursue my hand in marriage. If you had, I may have considered clapping you in irons. Now begone!
(Across the room for a moment the Earl of Northumberland lips almost formed into a smile. I was relieved. The interview had obviously gone well)
BOOK AND AUTHOR DETAILS
Remember, Remember the 6th of November is a thrilling retelling of the story of Guy Fawkes and the Gunpowder Plot. England in 1605 is a country concerned about terrorism, religious tensions, government surveillance and conflicts with Europe. A small group of conspirators led by charismatic Robert Catesby and Guy Fawkes plan regime change. In a race against time can spymaster Robert Cecil and his lover Katherine Suffolk prevent the country descending into all-out civil war
Remember, Remember the 6th of November is available in Paperback and Kindle ebook formats –
1617 is the exciting sequel to Remember, Remember the 6th of November – a thrilling alternate history filled with secrets, treachery and intrigue. Queen Elizabeth has transformed England into a centre for religious tolerance but conflict is brewing across Europe and there are continued troubles in Ireland. A peace envoy is needed. Sir Everard Digby appears the perfect choice but he’s a man with a secret past which the Queen must never discover…
1617 is available as a Kindle ebook –
Tony Morgan author details
Tony Morgan lives in Yorkshire in the UK, close to the birthplace of Guy Fawkes. His books have been described as a perfect read for lovers of the works of C.J. Sansom and S. J. Parris and anyone interested in how historic events have shaped our own times. Profits from both his books in 2017 are being donated to York Teaching Hospital Charity’s dementia appeal.