Elizabeth is the only English queen never to marry. MPs and the Privy Councillors expected her to marry in order to secure the succession, and many foreign princes and English noblemen wanted to marry her. She kept her thoughts on the subject private, but we can speculate as to why she never married. Some historians think she chose not to marry in order to protect England’s security; she wanted to remain independent of any foreign influence which marrying a foreign prince would have brought.
She kept everyone guessing on the subject of who she might marry but never did. This had advantages and disadvantages.
Staying single meant that Elizabeth could keep sole control of English affairs, namely government and religion. Elizabeth had a range of suitors from different countries. Her refusal to choose between them allowed her to keep her options open in foreign affairs, whilst at the same time this enabled her to play countries off against each other making her a strong negotiator. She remained the focus of all power since there was no apparent successor.
Ongoing uncertainty over who would inherit the throne had the potential to lead to plots and attacks to overthrow Elizabeth. For example plots from foreign, Catholic powers, such as Mary, Queen of Scots. The Privy Councillors and MPs were frustrated because the succession wasn’t settled and they felt this made the country vulnerable.
Elizabeth emphasised her “Virgin Queen” image portraying herself as a monarch who put the stability and security of England before her personal happiness. She would not marry anyone who might jeopardise England’s position.