Life in the court of England's volatile King Henry VIII is a perilous one for Elizabeth I. Her mother was beheaded by the king when Elizabeth was only two years old. The 11-year-old wants to become queen someday, but is third in line for the throne, behind her sickly brother Edward and sinister sister Mary, who resents her younger sibling and torments Elizabeth at every opportunity. Constantly striving to stay on her fickle father's good side, Elizabeth fears for the safety of her beloved stepmother, Queen Catherine Parr -- the only mother she has ever known. When Elizabeth learns that Henry is interested in another woman, she warns Catherine, who manages to convince the king of her subservient loyalty, thus saving her own life. Elizabeth has stayed true to her own nature while continuing to win her father's approval. After witnessing what Catherine must do to survive, Elizabeth vows never to marry, though she is more determined than ever to become Queen of England.