So it’s been a week since the 50th and I still haven’t seen anyone talking about how Moffat wrote Elizabeth I. I’m surprised, because I thought people would be as irritated or more irritated than I was. Possibly I’m being over critical, but the more I talk and think about it, I don’t think I am,…
This is one of the biggest issues I had with the 50th, mostly because I read an awesome biography, comparing and contrasting the lives of both Elizabeth and her cousin Mary Queen of Scots, earlier this year and it stressed quite plainly that in the aftermath of Amy Dudley’s death
"Elizabeth coolly distanced herself from the man who was the cause of the contaminating scandal, and favoured a legal investigation. In the process she strengthened the monarchy and the perception of her ability to rule, while maintaining her relationship with her favourite for the rest of his life."
(Jane Dunn, Elizabeth & Mary, pp 199)
Amy Dudley died in 1560 - the special is set in 1562. Although Elizabeth seems very removed from her political circle and any real major politics generally while on screen (she only has her soldiers there, but even they would remember the scandal of 1560), this close to an event that threatened her legitimacy if she made the wrong choice is politically unsavvy on her part. Considering how well she played the political situation in Europe as an outsider monarch (Protestant and female), this is grossly OOC for her.
I understand that someone else has mentioned RTD was responsible for the gag that the Doctor married Elizabeth - sure he might have been, but he never showed us the relationship. Moffat filled in that noodle incident, sure, but his handling of the relationship and Elizabeth’s character was weak and doesn’t mesh with her actual biography as a person.
"To remain unmarried, but available to all, proved to be a most successful piece of foreign policy, for to continue a potential ally to every European monarch was to be an enemy of none… There was wild hope too: in imagination anyone stood a chance of claiming the virgin and becoming king. Even her people could believe that in belonging to no one their queen was somehow uniquely theirs."
(Jane Dunn, Elizabeth & Mary, pp 202-3)
In as precarious position as Elizabeth was (with Mary Queen of Scots a potential legitimate Catholic monarch for England who could potentially rally the support of the strong Western Catholic bloc against Elizabeth), attempting to juggle the political sphere with her marriage as a bargaining chip gives her a lot of power, but she has to maneuver herself perfectly at all times. I have nothing against the Doctor marrying Elizabeth (I like gags involving historical characters as much as anyone), but it’s just the way that it was handled takes history, slaps it and says “who needs that boring thing?”.
TL;DR: In 1560 Elizabeth was rocked by a scandal that could threaten her legitimacy as a female monarch - why would she then potentially court scandal two years later by falling gigglingly in love with the Doctor and accepting his marriage proposal? It weakens her political position because she can’t say “let’s enter negotiations and then perhaps we’ll put marriage on the table if it’s in the best interest of our kingdoms” - she can only say “alas I’m married and he’s flown away in his blue box how tragic - so you see I can’t marry you”.