Elizabeth’s key ministers and advisers

Role of the Privy Council

The Privy Council consisted of 19 chosen noblemen to advise Elizabeth I on domestic and foreign issues. The council met everyday

Elizabeth’s first key task was to surround herself with trusted advisers, a group called the Privy Council.

  • The Privy Council were a group of powerful noblemen appointed by Elizabeth. They advised Elizabeth but did not control her.
  • Elizabeth chose a small group of 19 men to minimise conflict between them, but she also had to make sure no one member got too powerful or became disloyal.
  • The council met every day and was the most powerful part of the machinery of the government.
  • They advised on domestic and foreign issues such as how to handle challenges and threats, when to go to war, relations with foreign ambassadors, and supervising the enforcement of the Religious Settlement.

Elizabeth’s main advisors

1. William Cecil - Elizabeth appointed Cecil as the Secretary of State in 1558. He was her most important minister and guided her wisely for 40 years. In 1571, he received the title Lord Burghley.

Portrait of William Cecil, Lord Burghley
William Cecil, Lord Burghley

2. Robert Dudley - Earl of Leicester and a trusted adviser until he died in 1588. He and Elizabeth were very close and there were rumours that he and Elizabeth were lovers.

Portrait of Robert Dudley
Robert Dudley

3. Sir Francis Walsingham - was in charge of Elizabeth’s secret service and advised on foreign affairs. In 1586, he uncovered the plot that led to Mary, Queen of Scots’ execution.

Portrait of Sir Francis Walsingham
Sir Francis Walsingham