What is Elizabeth I's "Golden Speech" About?

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davmor1973 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Notionally, the speech was intended to address concerns relating to financial matters. However, in reality the Golden Speech was all about Elizabeth herself. She wasn't in the best of health and knew that her days were numbered. She was also aware that counselors such as Robert Cecil were working feverishly behind the scenes to ensure a smooth following accession, with King James VI of Scotland waiting in the wings to succeed her on the throne.

So, it was the ideal opportunity for the Queen to make her swan song appearance. Elizabeth was the undisputed master of what we would now call public relations. Over the years she and her loyal servants had worked hard to ensure that her public image was that of Gloriana: a great warrior queen who had defeated the Spanish Armada, united the kingdom, and vastly improved England's wealth and standing in the world. The Golden Speech was intended to burnish this image further and to set the seal on Elizabeth's status as a national icon.

The overall theme of the speech is one of Elizabeth's selfless love and devotion towards her loyal subjects. The Virgin Queen has forsworn the love of a man for the love of her people. It is an incredibly self-serving speech, one that perfectly expresses Elizabeth's enormous ego. But there was enough truth in it to have the desired effect. As her Members of Parliament streamed out of Whitehall, their eyes welling up with salt tears, they were left without doubt as to her greatness and to the exalted place in history which she'd so expertly secured.

Kristen Lentz eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Queen Elizabeth I's 'Golden Speech' is all about saying good-bye.  Full of pathos, the Queen's speech, which is believed to have been written and checked by the Queen herself, speaks of Elizabeth's deep love for England and her subjects. 

At the beginning of the speech, Elizabeth addresses her appreciation of the House of Commons and briefly justifies her expenses, saying "My heart was neuer set vpon any worldly goods” which is to say her debts were for the good of the English people. 

In the middle of the speech, the queen brings her attention to another subject that had been bothering the House of Commons, letter patents and some monopolies on goods.  Elizabeth owns that she "could giue no rest vnto my thoughts vntil I had reformed it." 

The final section of the speech announces Elizabeth's intention to name her successor; she has chosen James, the son of Mary Queen of Scots.  This is a calculated move on the Queen's part; she makes very clear who the next in line should be in an attempt to avoid any difficulties or fighting over the crown, since she had no heir. She concludes her speech with heartfelt sentiment:

And though you haue had and may haue many mightier and wiser Princes sitting in this Seat, yet you neuer had nor shall haue any that will loue you better.

vtsmith00 | Student

Elizabeth delivered her Golden speech on November 30, 1601. The members of the commons attentding the speech believed it to be about England's economic situation. Instead, Elizabeth spoke of her love for her country, and stated that her reign would be coming to an end. The speech is noted to be during one of the Golden eras of England's long history.

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