Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Rivals for the Crown

Rivals for the Crown

Margaret Simpson
Nonfiction  Series
For ages 12 and up
Scholastic Children’s Books (UK), 2003   ISBN: 978-0439982399

Mary and Elizabeth were both daughters of a king, of the great Henry VIII of England. This relationship was one of the few things that they had in common. They both had mothers who had fallen out of favour with the king one way or another and because of this both princesses suffered similar disfavour off and on as long as their father was alive. Mary and Elizabeth feared the volatile and changeable king, and with good reason. Mary in particular had good cause to fear that her father might be willing to put an end to her life. In other respects, character, looks, their faith, and dreams, the two sisters were as unalike as could be possible and this dissimilarity would create a very dangerous situation for the English crown.

While their father was alive the sisters attempted to be civil to one another and at least to pretend to like on another. However, after his death the situation changed considerably and the two sisters made less of an effort to convince anyone that they like one another. Mary hated Elizabeth for being the daughter of the woman who ended her own mother’s marriage with the king. As far as Mary concerned Anne Boleyn and her "illegitimate" daughter were her enemies. For Elizabeth’s part, she found her sister to be overbearing and impossible to really like. Later, when Mary became Queen of England, Elizabeth was afraid that Mary would get rid of her. Mary considered Elizabeth to be a grave threat to her place on the throne, and with good reason.

By presenting both sides of this story the author shows us how complex and difficult the situation was in England during the reign of Henry VIII and for the years before Elizabeth became queen.

This is one of the excellent "Double Take: Two sides of One Story" series published by Scholastic Children’s Books in the UK.