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In 1632, after her father, King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, dies on the battlefield, six-year-old Christina is crowned ruler. Reared by her father as a boy, Christina accepts the crown as the "king" of Sweden and then vows to her court, which is headed by Chancellor Oxenstierna, that Sweden will fight until it wins the war. Many years later, however, the now-grown Christina, who regularly dresses in men's clothing, confers with her council about the still-raging war and declares that, for the good of the country, peace must be negotiated. Christina then argues with Oxenstierna about marrying her Swedish-born cousin, Prince Palatine Charles Gustavus, a popular war hero. Determined that she will not marry a man she does not love, Christina rejects Oxenstierna's demands that she do her royal duty and wed the much older Charles. Instead, the book- and art-loving Christina flirts with Count Magnus, her handsome and ambitious treasury secretary. When even Magnus begins to tax her patience, however, Christina flees from her Stockholm palace to hunt with her devoted servant Aage. Then while riding in a remote forest, Christina comes across a coach filled with Spaniards, which has become stuck in a snow-covered ditch. Because she is dressed in heavy male clothing, Christina is not recognized and is instead treated as a male servant by the coach's prominent passenger, diplomatic envoy Don Antonio de la Prada. Later, Christina and Aage seek shelter in the only inn in the area and once again encounter Antonio and his party. Embarrassed to discover that Christina is a "gentleman" of means, Antonio apologizes and engages his social "equal" in conversation. Christina impresses Antonio with her lively, intelligent talk, then insists that he take her room, the best and last in the inn. After some polite argument, the couple decide to share the room and head upstairs to bed. While Antonio casually undresses, Christina hesitates, made shy by Antonio's direct glances, but finally reveals her sex by removing her jacket. Although at first stunned, Antonio soon revels in the unmasking and takes Christina in his arms. For the next several days, Christina and Antonio, who is still unaware of her royal identity, make love in their inn room and pledge their lasting devotion to each other. Finally remembering his diplomatic mission, Antonio leaves the inn but arranges to rendezvous with Christina in Stockholm. Back at the palace, Christina is confronted by Magnus, who is angry and suspicious about his queen's absence. Christina, however, is concerned only with her reunion with Antonio and dresses up in her most feminine gown to greet him at court. When Antonio is presented to Christina, he again is stunned but struggles to maintain his composure. Later, Antonio meets privately with Christina and, after chastizing her for playing with his affections, presents her with his king's portrait and proposal of marriage. Christina dismisses the official proposal, however, and ignores her royal duties to spend time with Antonio. Enraged with jealousy, Magnus hires two men to spread rumors throughout Stockholm about the queen's scandalous conduct, and one night Christina is met outside the palace by an indignant mob. After calming the angry crowd, Christina confronts Magnus with his subterfuge, but he threatens to use his political power to have Antonio killed. For his protection, Christina orders Antonio back to Spain, unaware that the Spaniard has challenged Magnus to a duel. Christina then confers with Oxenstierna about her future and, after calling together her court, announces that she is abdicating the throne to her cousin Charles. While Christina bids a sad farewell to her heartbroken court, Antonio and Magnus duel at sword point in a border forest. The liberated Christina finally reaches Antonio's ship but finds him dying from wounds inflicted by Magnus. After Antonio dies in her arms, Christina bravely announces to Aage that they are still sailing to Spain to see first her lover's cliffside home and then the world.