Like Richard III, Elizabeth Woodville is another figure from War of the Roses era England whom it can be difficult to discuss in a historical context since so many terrible calumnies were spread about her both before and after her death that it is a challenge to separate the fact from the fiction, though it may be fair to speculate that the willingness of people to credit such rumors and accusations might be evidence that Elizabeth Woodville was so widely unpopular during her lifetime that almost anything negative that was said about her would be believed.
Elizabeth Woodville was queen consort of England during the reign of her husband King Edward IV just as Cersei was Robert’s queen in Westeros. Both Elizabeth Woodville and Cersei Lannister were queens following a turbulent period of rebellion and civil war against a mad king that their husbands ultimately defeated. In Elizabeth’s case, it was Edward who took the throne from Henry VI, who was known to have suffered what today we would refer to as a mental breakdown that left him incapable of ruling, while in Cersei’s case, it was Robert who vanquished the Mad King Aerys, who descended into paranoia and pyromania as his reign wore on.
Apart from coming to power following periods of turmoil involving a revolt against a mad king, Cersei and Elizabeth Woodville have much in common. Like Cersei, who is described as a beautiful woman with golden hair, emerald eyes, and an attractive figure, Elizabeth Woodville was praised for her good looks, and it was widely believed that it was her beauty that had beguiled Edward into marrying her.
In addition to their stunning beauty, both Cersei and Elizabeth Woodville came from large, ambitious families whom they were determined to advance. Elizabeth Woodville arranged marriages, titles, and other honors for her family, including making her brother Anthony a Knight of the Garter. Anthony, like Jaime, was known to be a great tournament champion and was a prominent member of court. Much as Elizabeth used her status as queen to promote her family, Cersei is noted for doing the same in A Game of Thrones, urging Robert to name Jaime Warden of the East over Jon Arryn’s son, and ensuring that members of her family are stationed everywhere around the king, including as his squire like Lancel. Since titles and honors are limited, it is no surprise that the Lannister and Woodville families taking the lion’s share of these bred greed and resentment in other nobles who wanted access to the riches and honors a king could dispense and found themselves thwarted by Lannisters or Woodvilles.
After their husbands deaths, Cersei and Elizabeth each were threatened by the notion that their children were illegitimate. Elizabeth’s marriage to Edward was declared by an act of Parliament to have been invalid and bigamous because allegedly Edward had been married to another woman when he exchanged his vows with Elizabeth, thus invalidating the union and making any children, including the two princes who were in the Tower of London awaiting the elder one’s coronation, were illegitimate and ineligible to rule. In Westeros, meanwhile, Cersei has dealt with persistent rumors (that readers and viewers know to be accurate) that her children are not Robert’s but rather the issue of Cersei’s illicit and incestuous relations with her brother Jaime.
My prediction for Cersei is that there will be an edict from the King’s Council declaring her children illegitimate offspring of her incestuous affair with her brother. Given that the most plausible fate of Elizabeth’s princes in the Tower was that they were murdered by Richard III to cement his claim to the throne, I believe that we will see Tommen die, and I would even predict the same end for Myrcella, although of the Baratheon children I think that she has the greatest chance of survival.
The reason I feel that Myrcella may survive is Elizabeth Woodville’s daughter (creatively named Elizabeth) ended up marrying Henry VII when he came to power after defeating Richard III. While I don’t believe that Myrcella will be queen of Westeros when A Song of Ice and Fire concludes, it is possible that she will make a respectable marriage and live peacefully ever after. However, the main obstacle with that is, if Myrcella is declared illegitimate as I am convinced that she will be, her value on the marriage market would take a serious hit, and without the worth of being a marriage chip to link bloodlines and seal alliances, she is very vulnerable in Dorne and the world as a whole. Furthermore, a child of incest may encounter extra discrimination on the marriage market especially if she is not a Targaryen. Therefore, I believe that the bulk of the evidence suggests that Myrcella will not survive, and thus Maggy the Frog’s prophecy to Cersei about her three children that “gold shall be their crowns and gold their shrouds” shall be fulfilled. In other words, just as Elizabeth Woodville had her children declared illegitimate and had two murdered after that, so too will Cersei. Maggy the Frog warns of Cersei’s fate, but so does Elizabeth Woodville.