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Maids of Honour

Six young ladies who were not official staff of the Privy Chamber under Elizabeth but performed functions within the chamber. Elizabeth saw herself as controlling their 'marriages' but, in fact, her control was far from unchallenged by the young ladies themselves. Lady Catherine Grey, in line of succession, secretly married the Earl of Hertford; Bess Throckmorton secretly married Walter Raleigh; Lady Mary Howard insolently refused to hold open the Queen's cape and flirted with the Earl of Essex; Mary Fitton was made pregnant by the Earl of Pembroke. The position was one of indirect political influence and patronage.