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The White Queen (a.k.a. the Queen of Chess) is a fictional character who appears in Lewis Carroll's fantasy novella Through the Looking-Glass.


Along with her husband the White King, she is one of the first characters to be seen in the story. She first appears in the drawing room just beyond the titular looking-glass as an animate chesspiece unable to see or hear Alice, the main character. The Queen is looking for her daughter Lily; Alice helps her by lifting the White Queen and King onto the table, leading them to believe they were thrown up by an invisible volcano.

When Alice meets the Red Queen and joins the Chess game, she takes the place of a white pawn, Lily being too young to play. She does not meet the White Queen as a human-sized character until the Fifth Square. The White Queen lives backwards in time, due to the fact that she lives through the eponymous looking glass. Her behaviour is odd to Alice. She offers Alice "jam to-morrow and jam yesterday - but never jam to-day." She screams in pain until, rather than because, she pricks her thumb on her brooch, and tells Alice of the King's messenger who has been imprisoned for a crime he will later be tried for and perhaps (but not definitely) commit in the end. The White Queen, aside from telling Alice things that she finds difficult to believe (one being that she is just over 101 years old) says that in her youth she could believe "six impossible things before breakfast" and counsels Alice to practice the same skill. The meeting ends with the Queen seeming to turn into a bespectacled sheep who sits at a counter in a shop as Alice passes into the next square on the board. The Sheep is somewhat different from the Queen in terms of personality and gets "more like a porcupine every time [Alice] looks at her" because she knits with several knitting needles all at once. Two of these needles turn into oars when Alice appears in a boat, and then reappear in the Sheep's shop, where Alice purchases an egg, which becomes Humpty Dumpty as she moves to the next square.

In Chapter 9, the White Queen appears with the Red Queen, posing a series of typical Wonderland/Looking-Glass questions ("Divide a loaf by a knife: what's the answer to that?"), and then celebrating Alice's promotion from pawn to queen. When that celebration goes awry, the White Queen seems to flee the scene by disappearing into a tureen of soup. Martin Gardner's The Annotated Alice points out that the White King is at the time in check from the Red Queen, and the White Queen's move is rather pointless, though characteristic of her stupidity. However, since neither side acknowledges the check, it is not technically illegal. Alice proceeds to "capture" the Red Queen and checkmate the Red King, ending the game. The White Queen is not seen again, except as one of Alice's white cats, who Alice speculates may have influenced the dream.

In other media

The White Queen has been portrayed in various TV and film productions by actresses including Carol Channing, Penelope Wilton and Brenda Bruce.

In Sandra the Fairytale Detective, her name is Victoria because she is the Queen Of Victory.

Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Anne Hathaway portrayed the White Queen (renamed "Mirana") in Tim Burton's 2010 adaptation[1] alongside Helena Bonham Carter as Iracebeth, the Red Queen; they are portrayed as sisters. The White Queen's soldiers appear in white armor inspired by chess pieces while The Red Queen's appear in armour made to resemble cards. In every scene that she appears in, the White Queen almost always has her hands at shoulder height, and if one hand is being used, the other continues to stay at that height. In the movie, Iracebeth banishes her sister from "Underland" out of jealousy; Mirana, having taken a vow never to harm another living thing, is helpless to fight back, and waits years for the "Frabjous Day", when a "champion" to arrive and slay the Jabberwocky, Iracebeth's fearsome pet. That champion arrives in Alice (Mia Wasikowska), now a grown woman, who initially thinks she is merely having a recurring dream. By the film's climax, however, Alice accepts her destiny and slays the Jabberwocky, restoring Mirana to her rightful place as queen. Mirana then banishes her sister, and bids Alice goodbye. Despite her benevolant and kind attitude, Anne Hathaway remarks that, on the inside, the White Queen was sadistic as her sister, the Red Queen, and is not above cruel punishment.


  1. Missy Schwartz, "Best Actress," Entertainment Weekly 1032/1033 (Jan. 30/Feb. 6, 2009): 46.

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