Could England's Virgin Queen, Elizabeth I, have borne her lover, Robin Dudley, Earl of Leicester, a son? Most historians dismiss such tales as idle gossip, but others speak of a young man named Arthur Dudley. Set against the background of the Spanish Armada's invasion of England in 1588, The Queen's Bastard artfully weaves parallel tales. The first is told in memoir form by Arthur, who, having been exchanged at birth by Elizabeth's intimates for a stillborn baby, grows up as a country gentleman, never knowing his real identity. A dreamer, a romantic, a magnificent horseman, young Arthur sets off to fight Philip II of Spain. The second story follows the lifelong affair between Elizabeth and Leicester, whose love has only been strengthened after the presumed loss of their child. The two stories collide when Arthur learns from his adoptive father on his deathbed who his true parents are.