Late in the reign of Elizabeth I of England, Spanish noble Don Juan de Maraña is repatriated from London to Madrid, following a diplomatic scandal caused by his dalliance with the British fiancée of a Spanish nobleman. The Spanish ambassador in London, Count de Polan, an old family friend, sends a letter of recommendation to Queen Margaret of Spain.
He requests that she provide an opportunity at the Spanish court for the rehabilitation of Don Juan's reputation from the swirling gossip and scandal that have followed him around Europe in the wake of his many illicit love affairs. Accepting her old friend's suggestion, Queen Margaret thus appoints Don Juan as a fencing instructor to the Royal Spanish Academy, where he is a great success. During his time at court, he secretly falls in love with the Queen but remains a staunchly loyal subject to her and her irresponsible and weak husband, King Phillip III.
Don Juan discovers a treacherous plan by the Machiavellian Duke de Lorca, who is holding the loyal Count de Polan as a secret prisoner. The Duke is plotting to depose the monarchs, usurp their power over Spain, and declare war on England. With the support of his friends at court, Don Juan heroically defends the Queen and the King against de Lorca and his henchmen, finally defeating his plan in a duel to death, saving Spain.
The queen professes her love for Don Juan, now seeing his many virtues. Despite loving her deeply, more than any other woman in his life, he says that they could never be happy or survive such scandal. Both her subjects and Spain would fare poorly under the sole rule of the king. They both have a higher duty that must be served. Since the queen is the one woman he truly loves and can never rightfully have, he asks that she allow him to leave court and to continue his life elsewhere. She painfully grants him his wish, and he leaves the palace forever to continue his journeys in Spain.
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