Mary was put on trial, found guilty of treason and was executed on 8 February 1587 at Fotheringhay Castle. The executioner held up her severed head and shouted “God save the Queen”.
Elizabeth had always believed that executing Mary would lead to bigger problems, such as an international backlash, which is why she held off executing her for so long. When Mary was found guilty of treason, Elizabeth hesitated to sign her death warrant. When she eventually did sign, she refused to submit it, but her secretary secretly took it. When Elizabeth found out, she was furious and he was put in the Tower for 18 months. Elizabeth wrote to King James apologising for the death of his mother, Mary.
As it turned out the consequences were not as serious as Elizabeth had feared: