Even though Henry VIII desperately wanted a son, his new child - with his new queen, Anne Boleyn - was a daughter. Elizabeth was born at London's Greenwich Palace on the 7th of September, 1533. She had her father's coloring: golden-red hair and very fair skin.
Princess Elizabeth was strong-willed, even as a child. Initially, her father made the little girl his heir, bypassing his elder daughter Mary.
Then Henry had his longed-for son, Edward, with his newest queen (Jane Seymour). When the King decided to change his succession (designating his son as heir-to-the-throne), Elizabeth was effectively demoted from "princess" to "lady."
On hearing the news, the little girl reportedly told the husband of her governess (Lady Margaret Bryan):
How haps it, Governor, yesterday my Lady Princess, and today but my Lady Elizabeth?
When she was four, the future queen had a new governess: Catherine Champernowne. Kat, as she was known, married Sir John Ashley. An extremely important part of the child's formative years, Kat Ashley was also one of Elizabeth's teachers. The two became so close that when Elizabeth was crowned queen, she made Kat "First Lady of the Bedchamber."
Although her father ultimately had six wives, the last one - Catherine Parr - insisted that her step-daughter needed an excellent education. Elizabeth and Edward both studied with Roger Ascham, one of Britain's most-respected scholars at the time.
Her mind has no womanly weakness ... her perseverance is equal to that of a man ... She readeth more Greek every day, than some Prebendary [a church official] of this Church doth read Latin in a whole week.
Now Elizabeth's half-sister Mary would become queen, and life would become much more difficult for Anne Boleyn's daughter.