The name of Robert Dudley was Elizabeth I’s last words before she died. He was her greatest love who came close to being the co-ruler of England. Dudley only came so close when Elizabeth found out he was dallying with one of her ladies-in-waiting and ditched Dudley altogether.

But during their so-called “romantic” involvement, Dudley had a three-week marriage proposal to the Queen. This happened in 1975; just seventeen years after Elizabeth assumed the throne of England. It was a three-week long courtship in an attempt to win the Queen’s hand. It took Dudley 15 years to finally approach Elizabeth with a fanfare that was extravagantly laid out for her.

A magnificent display to win the Queen in Kenilworth Castle

Robert Dudley arranged a celebration especially for the Queen on July 9, 1575. He wanted to entertain her in his Warwickshire power base of Kenilworth Castle. He orchestrated an amazing day with tons of festivities lined up for Queen Elizabeth where she arrived with her courtiers. Actors and actresses lined up to meet her entourage holding symbolic offerings and the key to the castle.

The following weeks were full of elaborate banquets with boundless of wine and beer for everyone. It was a glorious day highlighted by fireworks and occasional Italian acrobat performances. Researchers estimate that the hopeful suitor lavished around £60,000 for the building works excluding the extra expenses for the event.

A glorious feast that came to an early end

The reasons may not be known, but Queen Elizabeth left the castle earlier than expected. Many believe she left because of Dudley’s lavish assertions hit the wrong chord or perhaps the weather was not doing any good to Elizabeth.

But more than that, Elizabeth was also aware of his frolicking activities. He had fathered a son to a much younger woman by the name of Douglas Howard, Baroness of Sheffield. Realizing Elizabeth’s intent, Dudley abandoned his hopes and married her mother’s grandniece Lettice Knollys, Countess of Leicester in 1578.

Throughout Queen Elizabeth I’s life, Robert Dudley was on her mind. She kept his last letter in a box and had it placed on her bedside until she died on March 24, 1603.