During her time as the longest-serving monarch in British history, Queen Elizabeth has written her own history. But she’s also had the opportunity to learn from the great kings and queens of the past.
With the popularity of Netflix’s The Crown and now PBS/Masterpiece’s Victoria and the dramatized documentary series on the notorious King Henry VIII’s six wives, two historians have weighed in on how the Queen compares with her ancestors.
Lucy Worsley, who fronts PBS’s Secret of the Six Wives, says the Queen differs from the women in her documentary because she “sailed through” the business of providing an heir and a spare, something that proved so difficult for Henry and his wives.
But Elizabeth (whom Worsley helped entertain at a recent tea party in Norfolk) is similar to the women in Six Wives because, like most of them, she wasn’t born into the role. She only ascended to the throne following her father George VI, who unexpectedly became king when his brother Edward VIII abdicated in 1936.
“She wasn’t born to be the Queen in a sense, it was something she had to come to grips with,” Worsley tells PEOPLE. “That would apply to all of them, except for Catherine of Aragon.”
The Spanish princess “was the only one who was born royal and had the best training for it,” she adds.
For more on Henry VIII’s wives and Queen Victoria, pick up a copy of this week’s issue of PEOPLE on newsstands on Friday
Worsley, whose day job is as chief curator of Historic Royal Palaces which looks after the unoccupied royal buildings in the U.K, sees some similarities with the woman whose long reign she beat in September 2015 — Queen Victoria.
“In long reigns, there is a dip. You see enormous enthusiasm for a young Queen, things perhaps tail off, there are family difficulties and middle age, and then old age, jubilees and deification happens,” she says. “That happened for George III and Victoria.”
According to Daisy Goodwin, who created and wrote Victoria, starring Jenna Coleman, the royal family shows much affinity to Victoria and her husband Prince Albert.
“I’m sure Elizabeth feels very connected to Victoria because she’s the only person who has shared her experience,” she tells PEOPLE.
But there are differences.
“Victoria was much more impulsive and tempestuous,” she says. “To begin with, she was not as dignified as Elizabeth. Elizabeth has always been an old soul. When Victoria came to the throne she was not 18 going on 45 she was 18, unmarried and giddy and funny and did all the things that teenagers should.
“Elizabeth always had a press office, but Victoria had no one. There was no one to spin stuff for her. She was a very different type of person.”
She adds, “They both had difficult relationships with their eldest sons, but while Victoria lost Albert, Elizabeth has had Philip by her side throughout. Victoria was without Albert for 40 years.”