WCW: Elizabeth of York


As you may have noticed, I’ve been periodically going through and adding WCW’s on the various English queens that I skipped-for-being-too-big in my series. Last time was Anne Neville, now it’s her successor, Elizabeth of York (1466-1503). She was the eldest daughter of King Edward IV and Elizabeth Woodville, and married King Henry VII, thus bringing together the previously-warring houses of Lancaster and York.

Her marriage was a happy one, and she had seven children, four of whom survived into adulthood: Arthur, Prince of Wales; Margaret, Queen of Scotland; King Henry VIII; and Mary, Queen of France. From my brief read, she didn’t play much of a political role and instead focused on her children’s education — but correct me if I’m wrong.

Funeral Effigy of Queen Elizabeth of York, Westminster Abbey

Funeral Effigy of Queen Elizabeth of York, Westminster Abbey.

Elizabeth of York has made it to the screen a number of times, both in stories about the Wars of the Roses as well as the founding of the Tudor dynasty:


The Shadow of the Tower (1972)

A BBC miniseries about Henry VII’s reign. Elizabeth was played by Norma West.

1972 The Shadow of the Tower

That hair has 1972 written ALL over it.

1972 The Shadow of the Tower


Richard III (1995)

An adaptation of the Shakespeare play, set in the 1930s. Kate Steavenson-Payne plays the more minor role as the story focuses on the older generation.

1995 Richard III

Elizabeth on the right, in the beanie (??).

1995 Richard III

With mom.

1995 Richard III

Dressed up fancy.


Princes in the Tower (2005)

A British documentary focusing on Perkin Warbeck, one of the pretenders to Elizabeth’s elder brother, Richard, Duke of York — one of the murdered heirs to the throne. Elizabeth is played by Nadia Cameron-Blakey.

2005 Princes in the Tower

A lovely gable hood to my eye!

2005 Princes in the Tower

I do question the fiber content of the dress, but otherwise I’m happy.


The White Queen (2013)

An adaptation of a Philippa Fucking Gregory novel about Elizabeth’s mother, Elizabeth Woodville. Freya Mavor plays the teenage Elizabeth of York.

2013 The White Queen

The costumes in this weren’t good. I mean, is that a blouse and skirt?

2013 The White Queen

I’m not sure, but it’s totally “period-oid” and nothing more.

2013 The White Queen

With mom.


The Hollow Crown: Richard III (2016)

Another Shakespeare adaptation, this one by the BBC. Madison Lygo plays the teenage Elizabeth.

2016 The Hollow Crown- Richard III

I think this must be her wedding, hence the hair?

2016 The Hollow Crown- Richard III

The dress seems vaguely-houppelande-y.


The White Princess (2017)

More Philippa Fucking Gregory — this one focused on Elizabeth of York herself. Jodie Comer (Lady Chatterley’s Lover, The Last Duel) plays the queen.

White Princess (2017)

The costumes in this were so bad, this one is actually decent by comparison.

The White Princess (2017)

I mean this looks like something from the Star Trek holodeck.

The White Princess

Words cannot contain how much I hate this outfit.


The Spanish Princess (2019)

Yet Another Philippa Fucking Gregory Adaptation. This one focuses on Catherine of Aragon, Elizabeth of York’s daughter-in-law. The middle-aged Queen Elizabeth is played by Alexandra Moen (Dickensian, Death Comes to Pemberley).

2019 the spanish princess

Shockingly reasonably not-bad, especially compared to the previous PFG adaptations!

2019 the spanish princess

Her hair is actually up! She’s pregnant, hence the bathrobe.

The Spanish Princess - Elizabeth of York

Wearing a costume recycled from The Borgias (2014).



Which is your favorite portrayal of Elizabeth of York on screen?


About the author



Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

6 Responses

  1. susan

    Whole lotta Renfair going on there. And the gold plates and chargers in that banquet scene are straight out of the Dollar Store…

  2. Roxana

    You are not wrong. By all accounts Elizabeth was as unpolitical as it was possible for a queen consort to be. Some foreign diplomats thought she was being held down but given her traumatic childhood and youth it might very well have been her own choice to focus on giving her children a secure home.

    • M.E. Lawrence

      I agree. Elizabeth’s youth sounded painful: living part of her life in sanctuary; enduring the loss of her father, uncle, and brothers; and then being sold off to an obscure Welshman without good claim to the throne. Apart from that gable hood, her costumes look just terrible. (And what is PFG’s Henry VII doing in a beard?! And thanks for yet another mention of “Philippa Fucking Gregory,” which always makes my husband and me giggle.)

      • Roxana

        For me Henry’s ability trumps any flaw in his claim. And Elizabeth was by all accounts very happy with him and he loved her dearly.

  3. SarahV

    The funeral effigy is more than a little creepy, but then again, you can kinda really see the real woman that she must have been.

    The jewel encrusted gable hood is faaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaabulous, but must have weighed a ton.


Feel the love

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.