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'Reign' casts 'Fifty Shades' alum Rachel Skarsten as Queen Elizabeth

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Last we left Reign, Condé was faced with a choice: Go to Scotland with Mary, or head to England to marry Mary’s direct competition—Queen Elizabeth. And although we’re not sure what path Condé will choose when the show returns, we now know that Elizabeth finally has a face.

EW has confirmed that Reign has cast Rachel Skarsten, most recently seen as Christian Grey’s assistant in Fifty Shades of Grey, as Elizabeth, who is set to first appear in the season 2 finale. Much of season 3 will focus on her character and the drama surrounding her.

“The character of Elizabeth, Queen of England, the only living child of Henry VIII and the murdered Ann Boleyn, looms over Mary Queen of Scots for the duration of her life,” executive producer Laurie McCarthy said in a statement. “Elizabeth has also, without ever stepping onto our stage, loomed over our first two seasons as a forceful and intriguing presence. I have been dying to introduce her to our characters and our audience. Because no single character understands Mary’s unique circumstances more. No character is more of a threat to her happiness and her life. Elizabeth’s debut in the season finale is a catalyst for events in season 3,when Reignwill chronicle the lives, loves and tribulations of three queens: Mary, Catherine, and now Elizabeth.”

Speaking specifically about Skarsten’s Elizabeth, McCarthy added: “I’m delighted to cast Rachel Skarsten as Elizabeth, a female monarch still in her twenties, early yet in her rule. She is a beautiful, cunning and brave mix of opposites: a young woman hardened too soon by life’s events, but vulnerable when it comes to love. A mercenary foe riddled with compassion for her rival. With her introduction, our world expands: the stakes grow even more heightened as we travel to another court filled with the beauty of privilege, passion and intrigue. The wait is over. Elizabeth is here. And I’m certain our audience will welcome her into the fold.”

Reign returns this Thursday at 9 p.m. on The CW.