Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie Play Royal Rivals in ‘Mary, Queen of Scots’ Trailer

Saoirse Ronan as Mary, Queen of Scots (Photo: Focus Features/Working TItle)

Stories of real-life queens are all the rage right now. From modern day period drama The Crown to more historical fare such as VictoriaThe White Princess and upcoming Starz drama The Spanish Princess, we just can’t seem to get enough of the girls who run the world.

The next big thing headed our way is a feature film adaptation of one of history’s greatest rivalries: Mary Stuart, the Queen of Scots and her cousin, Elizabeth Tudor, the Queen of England. 

The next big thing headed our way is a feature film adaptation of one of history’s greatest rivalries: Mary Stuart, the Queen of Scots and her cousin, Elizabeth Tudor, the Queen of England. The complicated conflict between them is a multi-decade story full of drama, conspiracy and betrayal, which ultimately ends with Elizabeth choosing to behead Mary for treason at Fotheringray Castle in 1587.

Mary, Queen of Scots will pit two Academy Award nominees against one another: It girl Saoirse Ronan will play the titular Mary, while Margot Robbie plays her cousin, Elizabeth.

The synopsis for the film underlines its intent to explore issues of feminism, leadership and what it means for a woman to rule.

The charismatic Mary Stuart had a turbulent life. Queen of France at 16 and widowed at 18, Mary defies pressure to remarry. Instead, she returns to her native Scotland to reclaim her rightful throne. But Scotland and England fall under the rule of the compelling Elizabeth I. Each young queen beholds her “sister” in fear and fascination. Rivals in power and in love, and female regents in a masculine world, the two must decide how to play the game of marriage versus independence. Determined to rule as much more than a figurehead, Mary asserts her claim to the English throne, threatening Elizabeth’s sovereignty. Betrayal, rebellion and conspiracies within each court imperil both thrones – and change the course of history.

In short: It sounds fantastic.

Watch the trailer for yourselves below:


Based on the John Guy book of the same name, the film also stars David Tennant, Guy Pearce, Brendan Coyle, Jack Lowden, Adrian Lester, James McArdle and more. (You can probably easily pick former Doctor Who star Tennant’s Scottish accent out of the pack towards the very end of this clip.)

If the trailer is anything to go by, this film isn’t likely to be what you’d call incredibly historically accurate. Despite the fact that it leans into a feminist ideal of what the British Isles could have been had these two women ruled side, it ignores some pretty important parts of the story. Including the fact that these two women were devout followers of two very different religions, the followers of which all had some strong feelings about whether Elizabeth (Protestant) or Mary (Catholic) should rule.

Here’s hoping that bit of history was just too complex to explain in a two minute trailer, shall we?

Mary, Queen of Scots will hit theaters on December 7. Do you think you’ll be heading to see it? Let’s discuss! 

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Twitter at @LacyMB