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Queen of Hearts (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland)

Queen of Hearts
Alice character
John Tenniel's illustration of the King and Queen of Hearts at the trial of the Knave of Hearts.
First appearance Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Created by Lewis Carroll
Nickname(s) Red Queen (sometimes mistakenly)
Aliases Cora (Once Upon a Time only)
Species playing card
Gender Female
Occupation Queen
Family Miller (father; in Once Upon a Time only)
Spouse(s) The King of Hearts
Prince Henry (Once Upon a Time only)
Children Ten Hearts
Nationality Wonderland
Misthaven (Once Upon a Time only)

The Queen of Hearts is a character from the book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by the writer and mathematician Lewis Carroll. She is a foul-tempered monarch, that Carroll himself pictured as "a blind fury", and who is quick to decree death sentences at the slightest offense. Her most famous line, one which she repeats often, is "Off with their heads!"

The Queen is referred to as a card from a pack of playing cards by Alice, yet somehow she is able to talk and is the ruler of the lands in the story, alongside the King of Hearts. She is often confused with the Red Queen from the sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, although the two are very different.


  • Overview 1
  • Origins 2
  • Illustrations 3
  • Confusion with the Red Queen 4
  • Adaptions 5
    • Disney 5.1
    • Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010) 5.2
    • American McGee's Alice 5.3
    • The Looking-Glass Wars 5.4
    • Alice in the Country of Hearts 5.5
    • SyFy TV miniseries 5.6
    • Once Upon a Time 5.7
    • Other versions and adaptations 5.8
  • References 6
  • Citations 7


Alice observes three playing cards painting white roses red. They drop to the ground face down at the approach of the Queen of Hearts, whom Alice has never met. When the Queen arrives and asks Alice who is lying on the ground (since the backs of all playing cards look alike), Alice tells her that she does not know. The Queen then becomes frustrated and commands that her head be severed. She is deterred by her comparatively moderate husband by being reminded that Alice is only a child.

Generally, however, as we are told by Carroll:

The Queen had only one way of settling all difficulties, great or small. 'Off with his head!' she said, without even looking round.

One of the Queen's hobbies – besides ordering executions – is croquet; however it is Wonderland croquet, where the balls are live hedgehogs and the mallets are flamingoes. This is presumably with the aim that the birds' blunt beaks should strike, but, as Alice observes, it is complicated by the fact that they keep looking back up at the players- as well as the hedgehogs' tendency to scuttle away without waiting to be hit. The Queen's soldiers act as the arches (or hoops) on the croquet grounds, but have to leave off being arches every time the Queen has an executioner drag away the victim, so that, by the end of the game in the story, the only players that remain are the Queen herself, the King, and Alice.

Despite the frequency of death sentences, it would appear few people are actually beheaded, the King of Hearts, quietly pardons many of his subjects when the Queen is not looking (although this did not seem to be the case with The Duchess), and her soldiers humor her but do not carry out her orders. The Gryphon tells Alice, "It's all her fancy: she never executes nobody, you know." Nevertheless, all creatures in Wonderland fear the Queen. In the final chapters, the Queen sentences Alice again (for defending the Knave of Hearts), and she offers a bizarre approach towards justice: sentence before verdict.

Modern portrayals in popular culture usually let her play the role of a villain because of the menace the character exemplifies, but in the book she does not fill that purpose. She is just one of the many obstacles that Alice has to encounter on the journey, but unlike other obstacles, she makes a higher potential threat.


The Queen is believed by some to be a caricature of Queen Victoria, with elements of reality that Dodgson felt correctly would make her at once instantly recognizable to parents reading the story to children, and also fantastical enough to make her unrecognizable to children. The reference is explicit in Jonathan Miller's 1966 television version where she and the King of Hearts are portrayed without any attempt at fantasy, or disguise as to their true natures or personality.

The Queen may also be a reference to Queen Margaret of the House of Lancaster. During the War of the Roses, a red rose was the symbol of the House Lancaster. Their rivals, the House of York, had a white rose for their symbol. The gardeners' painting the white roses red may be a reference to these two houses.


Image of Elizabeth de Mowbray, Duchess of Norfolk that inspired the original illustrations of the Queen of Hearts.

After unsuccessfully attempting to illustrate Alice's Adventures in Wonderland himself, Lewis Carroll was persuaded to engage a professional artist to provide the illustrations. He turned to cartoonist John Tenniel, who was known for his regular contributions to the satirical magazine Punch (published 1841–1992, 1996–2002).

Tenniel's inspiration for the Queen of Hearts was an image of Elizabeth de Mowbray, Duchess of Norfolk in one of the medieval stained glass windows at Holy Trinity Church, Long Melford, Suffolk.[1]

The illustrations for the Alice books were engraved onto blocks of wood, to be printed in the wood engraving process. The original wood blocks are now in the collection of the Bodleian Library in Oxford, England. They are not usually on public display, but were exhibited in 2003.

Confusion with the Red Queen

She is commonly mistaken for the Red Queen in the story's sequel, Through the Looking-Glass, but in reality shares none of her characteristics other than being a queen. Indeed, Carroll, in his lifetime, made the distinction of the two Queens by saying:

The 1951 animated film Alice in Wonderland perpetuates the long-standing confusion between the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts. In the film, the Queen of Hearts delivers several of the Red Queen's statements, the most notable being based on her "all the ways about here belong to me". Both characters say this to suggest importance and possible arrogance, but in the Red Queen's case it has a double meaning since her status as a Chess-queen means that she can move in any direction she desires.

In the American McGee's Alice adaptation of the books, the characters are also combined, leading to further popular misconception.



Disney's adaptation of the Queen of Hearts.

In the Disney animated feature Alice in Wonderland, the Queen of Hearts is the main antagonist who appears as Alice puts it in a moment of temper, a "fat, pompous, bad tempered old tyrant". She is portrayed as a haughty sadist, who enjoys decapitating anyone who merely annoys her. Her presence is all the more striking because of how tiny her husband the King is (he barely comes up to her knee). Similar to the book, Alice meets three cards painting the roses red, since they planted white roses by mistake. When the Queen arrives, she orders those three cards beheaded, then turns her attention to Alice. Refusing to answer her questions with presumption that only she can ask them, she quickly ropes her into a game of croquet. The game ends with the Queen tripping herself over, due to the Cheshire Cat's mischievous antics. The Queen angrily blames Alice for it, but before she can give the order, the King suggests holding a trial for Alice. The Queen, grudgingly, but reasonably, agrees. The Queen calls the March Hare, the Dormouse, and the Mad Hatter to witness, who hold an unbirthday party for her and cheer her up considerably. During the party, the Cheshire Cat reappears and upsets the Dormouse. The Dormouse runs all over, and in an attempt to crush the mouse, the King of Hearts accidentally hits the Queen on the head with the gavel, which is hastily passed into the March Hare's hands, then the Hatter's, and finally Alice's. The Queen, of course, blames Alice for it, and is going to have her beheaded. But Alice eats mushrooms she had procured earlier, which make her grow bigger. Although Rule No. 42 says that anyone more than a mile high must leave the court immediately, Alice feels free to call the queen a "fat, pompous, bad tempered old tyrant". Unfortunately, she subsequently shrinks down to her normal size, but flees and is able to escape.

Of interest is the fact that Disney's Queen of Hearts seems to be an amalgamation of the Queen from the book, the Duchess, and the Red Queen of Through The Looking-Glass. When pleased, she can be quite pleasant, but is still bossy and often impatient, and can almost at once change to enraged.

As she is considered to be one of the members of the Disney Villains group of characters, the Queen of Hearts exacted her revenge upon Alice in the game Disney's Villains' Revenge where she stole the ending page of the story and changed the ending, so Alice lost her head. Jiminy Cricket, the player, and Alice's headless body retrieve the head and escape the labyrinth of the Queen. They meet one last time in the final battle and she surrenders. The Queen of Hearts is the final boss on the Japanese version of Mickey Mousecapade, a 1987 video game where Alice is her hostage. She is also a greetable character at the Walt Disney World Resort. In Mickey's House of Villains, the Queen of Hearts appears as one of the villain guests of the House of Mouse, voiced by Tress MacNeille.

The Queen appears in the Square-Enix/Disney video game Kingdom Hearts, in her homeworld. As in the film, she holds Alice on trial, only this time for attempting to steal her heart. The main heroes in the game, Sora, Donald and Goofy, intervene, telling the Queen that Alice is innocent. The Queen challenges them to provide proof of their theory, and with help from the Cheshire Cat, the three are able to do so. The Queen, however, enraged at being proven wrong, orders them executed and Alice imprisoned in a cage on the roof. The three are able to fight off the Queen's guards and destroy the cage controls, but Alice is kidnapped, before they can save her. The Queen orders a search for Alice, and temporarily pardons Sora, Donald and Goofy, requesting that they look for Alice as well. She returns in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, only this time as a figment of Sora's memories. Again, she holds Alice on trial, this time for attempting to steal her memories. In both games, Sora, Donald and Goofy prove Alice's innocence by defeating the Trickmaster Heartless, the real culprit. The Queen congratulates Sora for solving the mystery, and once again demonstrates her bi-polar personality by pardoning Alice. She is absent in Kingdom Hearts II, but appears in Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days along with her homeworld. A digital version of her later appears in Kingdom Hearts coded.

Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010)

American McGee's Alice

In the video game American McGee's Alice, the Queen of Hearts is the final boss and the reason for Wonderland's decay. When Alice fights her, she discovers that the Queen is her dark side – an embodiment of her insanity; the Queen must be destroyed for Alice to become sane once more. The Queen's appearance is different in American McGee's Alice from how she is in the book: she appears first as a faceless entity having tentacles for arms, legs, and hair. It is later revealed that this is a mere puppet and that the true Queen of Hearts is a horrible monster in the image of a real anatomical heart. She is called both the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen interchangeably throughout the game. No mention is made of the Red Queen from "Through the Looking Glass." However, the White Queen is seen for only a moment, as her head is chopped off by the enemy in The Pale Realm. It's implied that after Alice was placed in the asylum the red queen and the queen of hearts fused together which explains why the Queen of Hearts is able to control the red piece and the cards at the same time.

In the sequel, Alice: Madness Returns, the Queen of Hearts is sought by Alice for assistance in stopping an Infernal Train from tearing apart Wonderland and driving her back into insanity. The Queen claims, when found in the ruins of the Red Kingdom, that Alice is being manipulated by someone other than herself, that this person is trying to erase her memories, particularly about the fire in her childhood, which are tearing her sanity apart. It later turns out that this person is none other than her psychiatrist Dr. Angus Bumby, who has been revealed to having raped Alice's older sister Lizzy and burned down the house with Lizzy and Alice's parents to cover up the crime, and that he is attempting to erase Alice's memories and subject her to prostitution after it. In this sequel, the Red Queen has changed considerably, taking the appearance of a younger Alice, only in a royal dress befitting the Queen of Hearts, with large fleshy claws rather than hands, and her lower body composed of fleshy tentacles that spread throughout the entire castle.

The Looking-Glass Wars

In The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor, the ruling dynasty of the Wonderland is the Heart family. The title of Queen of Hearts is a hereditary title for the Queen of Wonderland. The Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland is reimagined as Queen Redd, the enemy and aunt of the heroine, Alyss. She kills Alyss's parents and usurps the throne of Wonderland.

It should be noted that the true Queen of Hearts in this story is Genevieve Heart, Alyss's mother as an apparent re-imagining of the White Queen. Alyss is, therefore, the Princess of Hearts.

Alice in the Country of Hearts

In the manga Alice in the Country of Hearts, the Queen of Hearts is known as Vivaldi. She isn't as much a main character, though, and she has very few parts in the current books. Vivaldi rules Heart Castle and is feuding with the other territories over Wonderland. She is beautiful with black hair, unlike other adaptations. She speaks in the majestic plural, I.E, "We are happy you are here to see us." As discovered through Heart no Kuni no Alice the game by Quinrose (the predecessor to the manga) Blood Dupree (The Hatter) is Vivaldi's little brother though it is alluded to be a romantic interest for Vivaldi until Alice discovers the secret.

SyFy TV miniseries

In the two-part series Alice, hosted by the SyFy Channel, the Queen of Hearts is portrayed by Kathy Bates as a refined but ruthless drug lord. The miniseries is set one hundred and fifty years after the original Alice's first visit to Wonderland (the heroine is an unrelated character) and the Queen is (as usual) the primary villain of the series. As is customary, the Queen is depicted as narcissistic, declaring herself as "the most powerful woman in the history of literature" and obese. Her calm, cold demeanour suggests that she too is a mixture of the Queen of Hearts and the Red Queen. Her name is given as "Mary Elizabeth Heart", and it is suggested that the Hearts are the "Red" royal family who seized control of Wonderland from the "White" royal family.

Once Upon a Time

  • In the show's spin-off, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, a flashback reveals that Cora (as the Queen of Hearts) was the Red Queen's tutor in magic; Cora apparently ruled part of Wonderland and was a political rival of the Red King.

Other versions and adaptations

  • In the 1982 musical/dance adaptation of the novel, Alice at the Palace, the Queen of Hearts is played by Debbie Allen.
  • In an episode of Wizards of Waverly Place parodying the novel, Alex Russo is in court and becomes smart with the Queen of Hearts (played by Theresa Russo).
  • In the 1991 Disney channel series Adventures in Wonderland, the Queen was played by Armelia McQueen. She appears as a short-tempered and childish but basically benevolent ruler. She was alternately called "The Queen of Hearts" and "The Red Queen" during the course of the series.
  • In Colleen Oakes' debut fantasy novel, Queen of Hearts: Volume One, The Crown, arriving 14 February 2014 via Sparkpress, the Queen of Hearts is a young princess named Dinah, who must fight for the right to keep her crown against a diabolical and cruel Father, and in doing so, takes Wonderland to the brink of war.
  • In the Spell Block Tango, the Queen of Hearts is played by Kimberly Cole.


  1. ^ Jenkins, p.759
  2. ^  
  3. ^
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