Even their contemporaries felt that the relationship of Elizabeth and Robert transcended the details on practicality. There had to be some explanation for their lifelong fidelity, and those contemporaries put it down to ‘synaptia’, a hidden conspiracy of the stars, whose power to rule human lives no-one doubted: ‘a sympathy of spirits between them, occasioned perhaps by some secret constellation’, in the words of the historian William Camden, writing at the beginning of the seventeenth century. Sarah Gristwood [x]
♔ “My true love has my heart, and I have hers. My heart in me keeps her and me in one. My heart in her, her thoughts, and senses guide. She loves my heart, for once it was her own. I cherish hers because in me it bides. My true love has my heart, and I have hers.”
Robert Dudley was counted among Elizabeth’s special friends by Philip II’s envoy to the English court a week before Queen Mary’s death. On 18 november 1558, the morning after Elizabeth’s accession, he witnessed the surrender of the Great Seal to her at Hatflield. He became Master of the Horse on the same day. As soon, rumours started to be spread on their relationship. In 1560, his wife died, an inquest was started but the jury found that it was an accident. Ironically, this death put an end to a possible secret wedding. In 1563, Elizabeth suggested him to marry Mary, Queen of Scots, but, offended, Mary refused it. Robert became Earl of Leicester. When he married Lettice Knollys, Elizabeth’s cousin, the Queen bannished him from court for a while. But she had never been able to be away from him. He stayed by his side until his very death. At his death, she stayed inside her rooms for hours, maybe days. She kept his last letter as a treasure until her own death.