"Let them eat cake." "We are not amused." Some of the best-known royalty quotes are also among the most inaccurate, since the royals likely didn't even say them in the first place. As some of the world's most well-documented figures, however, there's a record of royals actually saying some pretty wild stuff.
These royal quotes may sound made-up, but they are reputed to be true. Some verbatim quotes came from interviews or writings, while others were written down by eyewitnesses of an event. Whether too on-the-nose to be believable or surprising in their pithiness, these royal quotes are directly attributed to the kings, queens, emperors, and empresses who uttered them.
'I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king—and a king of England, too.' - Queen Elizabeth I
The Quote: On August 9, 1588, Queen Elizabeth I addressed troops prepared to defend England against a Spanish invasion:
... I am come among you at this time but for my recreation and pleasure, being resolved in the midst and heat of the battle to live and die amongst you all, to lay down for my God and for my kingdom and for my people mine honor and my blood even in the dust. I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king and a king of England too - and take foul scorn that Parma or any prince of Europe should dare to invade the borders of my realm.
Context: The Spanish Armada - an army of ships assembled by Spain to invade England, end Elizabeth's Protestant queenship, and return the kingdom to the Catholic fold - was one of the greatest challenge's to Elizabeth's rule. The armada failed, and it helped bolster England's confidence on the global stage.
Elizabeth's speech to her troops at Tilbury was written down from memory after she delivered it - so this likely isn't a verbatim quote, though it's probably in the ballpark of what she said.
Though Elizabeth's rousing speech was meant to inspire her troops to face Spanish invaders, she delivered it after the Spanish Armada had already been defeated.5012No way they said that?
The Quote: Catherine the Great - Russia's storied ruler who usurped her husband in 1762 - confessed:
Had it been my fate to have a husband whom I could love, I would never have changed towards him.
Context: The woman who would become Catherine the Great married the future Tsar Peter III in 1745. The marriage was disastrous, but they were still married when Peter inherited the throne in early 1762.
Catherine not only disliked her husband, but also didn't respect him. So, several months after Peter became tsar, Catherine was involved in a plot to overthrow him. The coup was successful, and the rest was history.
The Russian empress enjoyed relationships with other men during and after her marriage, as she sought the love and affection she never got from her husband.327No way they said that?
The Quote: As he moved from one conquest to the next, Alexander the Great supposedly boasted:
Sex and sleep alone make me conscious that I am mortal.
Alexander believed there could be only one logical explanation for his wild success: He had to be divine. He convinced himself that he was Zeus's son.
His arrogance had consequences. According to historian Susan Abernethy, Alexander "became reckless, self-indulgent and inconsistent, causing a loss of loyalty by his men and officers."
Ultimately, Alexander proved to be mortal - he passed at the age of 32.328No way they said that?
The Quote: Shortly before her execution in 1793, Marie Antoinette answered a priest who reminded her to be brave:
Courage? The moment when my ills are going to end is not the moment when courage is going to fail me.
Context: The French Revolution had turned violent by 1793. King Louis XVI and his consort Marie Antoinette were among its victims - they were both guillotined that year.
Louis predeceased his wife by several months. But just before her own execution in October 1793, Marie Antoinette - by all accounts - demonstrated poise, calm, and - yes - courage as she faced the end.3012No way they said that?