I first heard of this engaging gossip from a member of the royal family and so my ears went up. It's an enchanting theory – that Elizabeth I was a changeling boy, popped into the royal cradle on the death of the real princess. That – though unlikely – is not impossible. But the author claims that the Bisley Boy went on to play the part of the Virgin Queen for a lifetime.
I don't think so. We have a number of accounts of Elizabeth being intimate, even unsuitably intimate, with her male courtiers. The governess who is supposed to have made the swop and put a young man on the throne went down on her knees to the queen to ask her to be more discreet during her love affair with Robert Dudley. Are we suggesting that the Bisley Boy played the part of a queen and fell passionately and indiscreetly in love with handsome male courtiers, and was never discovered?
As a new very good book Elizabeth's Bedfellows by Anna Whitelock shows, Elizabeth was very intimate with the women of her bedchamber. Is it possible that they would not have discovered the secret?
And finally – the author suggests that we answer this question by exhumation of a royal tomb and testing the body. This is not the way to do history! We have the research on the skeleton of Richard III because his body was found, he had not been laid to eternal rest, the archaeologists dug up a carpark not a graveyard. I feel very strongly that the dead should be buried with honour, and left in peace, not dug up when someone has a half-baked theory about them to test.
Image: Portrait of Queen Elizabeth I, known as the 'Darnley Portrait', artist unknown, c. 1575 (NPG 2082).