Elizabeth and Mary: Royal Cousins, Rival Queens

Open until Sun 20 Feb 2022
Book now Members go free
  • Tel: +44 (0)1937 546546
  • Email: boxoffice@bl.uk
  • Full Price: £16.00 Member: Free

Queens. Cousins. Rivals.

★★★★★ – The Times

Step back into a dangerous world of plots, espionage and treachery to explore the turbulent relationship between Elizabeth I and Mary, Queen of Scots in their own words.

In an England and Scotland engulfed in religious turmoil and with civil wars raging on the continent, this major exhibition follows the storm that threatened these two powerful women as they struggled for control of the British Isles.

They never met but their fates were intertwined. From their shared beginnings, facing the challenge of ruling in a man’s world, feel the tension escalate as handwritten letters between the queens show how paranoia turned sisterly affection to suspicion. 

With the threat of conspiracy ever present, communications written in code reveal how Elizabeth used a network of spies to trap and destroy her rival, bringing the dramatic story to a swift and bloody conclusion.

Encounter some of the Library’s most exceptional 16th-century manuscripts and printed works on display: Elizabeth’s stirring ‘heart and stomach of a king’ speech; the papal bull excommunicating Elizabeth; Mary’s 10-page plea for freedom.

These sit alongside haunting objects which reveal the complex story behind the two queens’ reigns. Tales of imprisonment and escape. Elizabeth’s speech to Parliament on her cousin’s fate. Eye-witness accounts of Mary’s execution.

Enter the dark side of the 16th century. Meet the real Elizabeth and Mary.

Ticket prices and concessions

Book your ticket in advance and save £2 (discount included in the prices below) . 

  On the door Advance booking


Mon–Wed* Thu–Sun Mon–Wed*  Thu–Sun
Full price  £18
 £18 £16
Member Free Free Free Free
Senior (60+) £9 £18 £8 £16
Student £8 £16 £7 £14
Young person (18-25) £8 £16 £7 £14
Registered unemployed £8 £16 £7 £14
Disabled £8
£8 £6
National Art Pass £9 £9 £9 £9
National Art Pass senior £8
£8 £8 £8
Child (0-11)  Free Free Free Free
Child (12-17)  £9
£9 £7
Reciprocal entry (NDMC) Free Free Free Free

*Excludes bank holidays and school holidays.

Please note you may be asked for proof of concession on arrival.

Pre-booking your visit helps us manage our capacity and offer the best possible visitor experience by keeping you updated with information before your visit. We want as many people as possible to have the chance to see our exhibitions so, like many other museums and galleries, we’re offering discounts to those more able to visit outside of our most in-demand days, helping to increase our capacity during our busiest periods for those who can’t. 

Free carer tickets are available by contacting the Box Office on 01937 546546.

Sponsored by The Sir John Ritblat Family Foundation.

With thanks to the John S Cohen Foundation, and all supporters who wish to remain anonymous.

We’re continuing to follow government guidance to keep everyone safe. Find out how we’re welcoming you to the Library safely.


Name: Elizabeth and Mary: Royal Cousins, Rival Queens
Where: PACCAR 1
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Opening times and visitor information
Price: Full Price: £16.00
Member: £0.00

A voluntary donation can be added over the regular ticket price. You will be helping the Library to conserve and share its collection. If you are a UK tax-payer and ‘Gift Aid’ your donation, the Library can reclaim the tax you have paid.

Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546
Book now