Corrected entry: Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk, was only 22 when Elizabeth came to the throne. Far from being the sinister plotter portrayed in the film, he actually seems to have been somewhat weak and easily dominated. He was not executed until 1571, after his involvement in the Ridolfi Plot.
Correction: The movie is not a documentary, which leaves room for artistic license to be used by the filmmakers. They needed a person to be viewed as the focal point "villain" in the story, and so Norfolk was chosen.
Corrected entry: Another one of the blindingly obvious historical inaccuracies of this film - Elizabeth was perfectly well aware that Dudley was married. She only distanced herself when his wife died in possibly suspect circumstances and rumours that she died so Dudley could marry Elizabeth emerged.
Correction: The movie is not a documentary. Artistic license was used by the filmmakers.
Corrected entry: Sir William Cecil was only 38 at Elizabeth's accession, hardly the old man portrayed. Actually created Lord Burghley in 1571 (the film must end in the mid-1560s, as at the end it states that Elizabeth reigned for another forty years; she died in 1603), he was never retired by Elizabeth, but remained her chief minister for the rest of his life. He died in 1598.
Correction: Artistic license, the filmmakers are free to change facts around a bit.
Corrected entry: Although King Phillip II did send an ambassador to congratulate Elizabeth while Mary was dying, he did not propose marriage until a year later.
Correction: Artistic license is used here. The filmmakers are allowed to change facts around a bit to make a more interesting story (to have the ambassador propose marriage straight off creates a bit more tension in the story, as well as demonstrates the pressure Elizabeth was under to marry).
Corrected entry: Elizabeth knighted Walsingham in 1573. At the time depicted in the film he was still plain Francis Walsingham.
Correction: This movie is considered "historical fiction," and many events depicted in it are deliberately inaccurate using artistic license. For example, Robert Dudley (the Earl of Leicester) was loyal to Elizabeth until his death and was never involved in a plot to dethrone her; he also did not convert to Catholicism as shown in the movie. And there is no evidence whatsoever that the "Virgin Queen" slept with Dudley. Nor did Elizabeth ever meet Henri, the Duke of Anjou, (it was actually his brother who proposed to her) and there is nothing to support that Henri was homosexual. Also, Walsingham was actually much younger than the older man he is depicted as in the film (he was in his mid-twenties when Elizabeth was crowned), and so on. Cherry-picking one incident from among the many fabricated or altered events should not be considered as a "factual error."
Corrected entry: At the very end of the movie, when Elizabeth is walking to her throne as the Virgin Queen, the music being played is a Requiem written by Mozart. Not exactly a period song.
Correction: It is not played within the film, so there is no reason it has to be contemporary with the film's setting (otherwise no historical films would have soundtracks composed by modern composers).
Corrected entry: Further to the use of the non-contemporary passage from Mozart's Requiem, the use of 'Nimrod' from the 'Enigma Variations' by Sir Edward Elgar (1857-1934) is hardly of the time either- a shame especially as there is so much good music of that period still extant...
Correction: It's not played within the film, so there's no reason it has to be contemporary with the film's setting (otherwise no historical films would have soundtracks composed by modern composers). It presumably just seemed like a good piece of music to play.
Corrected entry: The movie implies that Mary of Guise was murdered by Walsingham in bed. In reality, she died of dropsy (the collection of fluid in the body cavities and/or tissues).
Correction: The movie implies it was murder, as Mary of Guise died suddenly and nobody really knows of what cause. It was Mary (so as not to confuse which one, daughter of Henry VIII by Catherine of Aragon) who had dropsy. This caused her to become bloated and led her to believe continually that she was pregnant.
Corrected entry: There is no solid evidence that Elizabeth had sexual relationships with Dudley, or any other man. She was very politically astute, and knew the dangers of damaging her Virgin Queen reputation, upon which much of her strength was based.
Correction: On the DVD commentary, the director happily admits that there is no evidence of a sexual relationship, but that he was exploring the possibility.
Corrected entry: When the priest is administering last rites to Mary, she is supposedly already dead. But just before he leans in to check her breathing, you can see her chest (and hands) rise and fall.
Correction: In Catholicism the "last rites" are administered before death occurs and when the death is imminent.
Corrected entry: All the way up until the scene where Elizabeth makes love with Dudley, she has long, straight hair. The very next morning, her hair has something like bangs in the front, which are shorter and curlier in the front.
Correction: That is because the time frame isn't just one day, but a matter of days or weeks.