A vision of grace, wisdom and strength of character, Queen Elinor is fiercely dedicated to the well-being of her family and kingdom. As the diplomatic counterpart to her more impulsive husband, King Fergus, Elinor carries the weight of the kingdom's peace on her shoulders.
Queen Elinor is initially, a very strict and stubborn authoritarian figure in Merida's life. She demands that Merida follows in her footsteps as queen and follow the customs and traditions of her kingdom. Despite conflicting ideas over Merida's desire for freedom and independence, she only wishes the best for her daughter. She is shown to be a very stern teacher who expects nothing less but compliance from Merida. This causes a strain in the relationship between her and her daughter. In her quest for tradition and responsibility, her ignorance stifles Merida's true self.
Elinor is very elegant and ladylike, befitting her role as the queen. She understands the importance of her role as a diplomat of the kingdom and is very educated and knowledgeable. She has appointed herself as Merida's sole teacher, demonstrating a vast knowledge of the manners and education that a princess must have to ascend to her role as queen.
Elinor believes it is important for people to follow the path laid out for them, and often tells the story of Mor'du to prove her point. Mor'du was a vain prince who wanted to rule the kingdom by himself rather than divide it among his brothers as his father wanted. He chose his own destiny and caused the kingdom to fall. Merida implies that her mother has told this tale often. In reminiscence of this story, Merida competes against the suitors in archery "for her own hand" and wins. Elinor takes Merida to scold her for her embarrassing actions and explains that they could lead to war. In a fit of rage, she impulsively throws her daughter's bow into the fire. She realized the harshness of her actions upon Merida's exit, however, and removed it from the fire with regret.
Elinor also seems rather strong, as she was able to pull all of the ears of the leaders of the four clans (including her husband) at once while remaining a calm face. She deals with the more political, diplomatic problems among the four clans. This is shown as the leaders of the three clans went to Elinor to decide who was the winner of the queen and as she helped Merida reach a compromise among the four clans regarding who would marry Merida that satisfied all sides.
Elinor shares her traits of stubbornness and inability of listening with her daughter, as both refuse to attempt to listen to each other and their intentions and only choose to attempt to force their ideas and beliefs onto each other without finding a compromise.
However, after she is turned into a bear by Merida, she begins to see her daughter for who she is as Merida's survival skills come in handy in finding food and during the time they spend together, to have the two rekindle and mend their strong bond. The beginning of the change in her character is shown when she eats the fish Merida catches her, and becomes more apparent when she leaves her crown behind, indicating her ability and desire to change and let go of the stern perfectionist queen she once was and allow Merida to embrace the freedom she has always wanted.
She has shown to be a very brave person, as shown when she fought against Mor'du in order to protect Merida. She is also compassionate and was devastated both times she hurt Merida by mistake as she began to lose her humanity, even running away the second time as she felt she had become a danger to her family and her kingdom.
She has a strong love for her family, one of her most prominent traits that remain throughout the film. Despite having reservations when she first entered an arranged marriage with King Fergus and despite their polar opposite personalities, the two love each other and respect each other. The two often come to each other for advice and act romantically with each other, almost as if they married for love. She loves her sons but proves to be strict with them. Her most complicated relationship was with her daughter due to their equally stubborn personalities and views on what was best for Merida's future. However, Elinor was so strict on Merida and wanted her to follow the path given because she believed it was the right thing to do and loved Merida so much that she was horrified when she scratched her and she protected Merida against Mor'du.
Overall, Elinor is a loving, strong, determined woman who changes from a serious, stubborn, unyielding perfectionist into a more compassionate, thoughtful, understanding person but has and will always care greatly for her family and kingdom.
Elinor has brown eyes and very long brown hair, extending nearly to her feet in length. A gray streak runs through the right side of her hair. Elinor's hair is usually arranged in two pigtails, fastened with gold ribbons that are wrapped around all the way to the bottom. She is a slender woman and is taller than Merida. She usually wears a fitted silk and embroidered emerald green dress with a dark green underdress. Her outfit is accessorized with a gold belt and gold rings. Elinor also wears a golden tiara adorned with a large piece of jade. At the end of the movie, Elinor wears her hair in a simple half-up style. She also wears a navy blue dress with gold trim that is similar in appearance to her green dress.
When she is transformed into a bear, her royal clothes are ripped into shreds and appears as a large black Eurasian bear and her bear claws are charcoal gray. Sometimes, she wore her tiara when she travels with her daughter.
When she returns to normal after Merida apologizes for her actions and repairing their family relationship, she was naked and was covered in a green magical tapestry with brown trim to cover herself. Her hair was let loose with a very long single fringes on each side.
At the end of the film, she wears a blue dress, and her long hair was straightened.
Elinor is first seen playing hide-and-seek with her daughter, Merida on her birthday. Then, Elinor sees her husband, King Fergus's bow on the table and asks him to not put it on the table until Fergus presents Merida with her own bow as a birthday present. Elinor nervously watches as Merida accidentally shoots her sixth arrow into the forest and goes to get it back. Merida comes back and says she saw Will O' the Wisps. Elinor explains that the wisps lead people to their fate but, Fergus doesn't believe it. Suddenly, Mor'du attacks, and Elinor and Merida flee while Fergus stays behind to fight the demon bear.
Years later, Merida is a teenager that Elinor is trying to make into a proper princess despite Merida's objection. One night, at dinner, Elinor once again corrects Merida about being a princess and confesses that a princess should not have weapons in her own opinion. After receiving three letters from Maudie, Elinor tells Merida that the three Lords are coming to present their sons as suitors to compete for her hand in marriage. Not wanting any of this, Merida angrily storms out of the Great Hall to her bedroom and Elinor goes after her. Elinor enters her room; telling her the story of a king who divided his kingdom for each of his four sons to rule but the eldest wanted to rule the entire land by himself so he brought chaos and war that led to the downfall of his kingdom for following his own path. Merida refuses to listen and Elinor tells her to go through with it but Merida still doesn't want it. Moments later, Elinor is seen in the tapestry room sewing the family tapestry and talking to Fergus of what she would say to her daughter about her wishes if she would listen.
Days later, the Lords arrive in DunBroch and Elinor prepares Merida in a tight formal dress, tells her to smile, and they all gather in the Great Hall for the presentation of the suitors. Each of the Lords presents their sons and a brawl breaks out. Elinor is not as pleased as Merida is. King Fergus silences the brawl but it breaks out again; due to the mischief caused by the triplets. Then, Fergus joins the fight. Elinor, not pleased with the event, grabs Fergus and the Lords by their ears, then proclaims that only the firstborn of the great leaders may compete in the games. When Merida declares that she chooses archery, it was time for the Highland Games to begin.
When the competition begins, Elinor tells the three suitors good luck. As each of the suitors shoots arrows, she tries to silence Fergus and Merida chatting about each of the suitors until Wee Dingwall wins by accident. Merida appears on the field; declaring she will shoot for her own hand, to Elinor's shock. Elinor walks on the field, shooting arrows in the bullseye of the first two. When Merida shoots an arrow through Wee Dingwall's arrow through the target, she is horrified then she becomes furious.
Elinor drags and throws Merida into the tapestry room as they argue with each other with Elinor calling her a child and Merida calling her a beast for trying to force her to be like her mother. Merida then slices the family tapestry in half, shown by their tapestry characters' hands no longer holding the other. In return, Elinor callously throws her bow in the fireplace. Deeply hurt by her mother's actions, Merida tearfully runs away from the castle as Elinor quickly fishes the bow from the fire, feeling horribly guilty.
Later that evening, Elinor notices Merida back home and enters the kitchen, relieved that she's home. Elinor is given a cake on a false peace offering and eats a piece then suddenly, she starts feeling sick. Merida escorts Elinor to her chamber and puts her in bed until Elinor starts transforming into a bear. Elinor is horrified that she had been turned into a bear because Merida had seen The Witch, thus, causing Elinor to roar in anger in her face, which somewhat alerts Fergus, the Lords, and their clans. Merida helps Elinor escape the castle from Fergus, the Lords, and their clans with her brothers' help. They both journey back to the Witch's cottage but, they find her gone. Then, they find the witch's cauldron with a ghostly image of the Witch telling them that they have until the second sunrise to break the spell or Elinor will remain a bear forever. The Witch tells Merida the way to do it is to remember the riddle "Fate be changed look inside, mend the bond torn by pride." Confused, Merida accidentally sabotages the cottage, so Merida and Elinor take shelter in the remains of the cottage for the night. Merida has a dream about a memory of her as a child with Elinor as they are both singing "Noble Maiden Fair" together.
The next morning, Elinor brings some berries and water for breakfast until Merida explains that the berries are actually poisonous Nightshade berries and the water has worms in it, which causes Elinor to spit out afterward. So, Merida and Elinor head to a creek to catch a fish and Merida then teaches her how to catch a fish as they both start bonding. Then, Elinor heads into the forest and Merida goes after her until she notices that Elinor is not herself and nearly attacks her until she regains consciousness. They see a trail of Will O' the Wisps and follow them to the ruins of a castle. Merida falls through the floor into a throne room and realizes it was the kingdom from the story Elinor told her before. Merida sees a stone with three figures and a split stone with the fourth figure and realizes that the curse has happened before when the prince sought to change his fate that resulted in his kingdom's downfall and then became Mor'du. Then, she sees Mor'du and he attacks her until she barely escapes with Elinor's help and they flee back to the Ring of Stones. Merida realizes that Elinor will become like Mor'du unless she sews the tapestry back together to "mend the bond torn by pride" in hopes it will break the spell.
That night, they both sneak into the castle under the castle, through a well. Then, they sneak through the kitchen and peek into the Great Hall to see Fergus, the Lords, and their clans behind barricades and weapons flying through the air. They are on the brink of war so Merida tries to tell Elinor that she must stop them but Elinor, in bear form, can't do such a thing, thus, it's up to Merida to stop this madness. Merida walks into the middle of the room as Elinor poses as one of Fergus' stuffed bears to avoid detection. Merida walks into the room and tells them she was in conference with Elinor. The Lords demand to see the queen until Merida silences them all. She tells them of the story of the selfish prince who brought chaos to the land and reminds them that legends are lessons and they ring with truths. The clans had been enemies until they were threatened by the Northern Invaders and joined forces to defend their lands. When they won the war, the clans made Fergus their king for bringing them together and made an alliance. Elinor signs to Merida the message that they should be free to follow their hearts and find their own love. The Lords' sons agree with this and confess to their fathers that they didn't want to fight over a girl who doesn't want any of it. So, they all agree. Finally, Elinor is so proud of Merida. A guard stares at Elinor's frozen pose so, Merida distracts everyone by telling them to got to the cellar to celebrate. When everyone is gone, Elinor hugs her daughter joyfully and they both head to the tapestry room.
As Merida is looking for thread and needles, Elinor turns wild again and Fergus enters the room (after realizing that his wife is gone and her clothes torn off; thinking that she has been killed and eaten by Mor'du) and she attacks him. When Elinor snaps out of it, she sees that she has hurt Merida and flees to the forest out of horrible guilt and despair, and Merida tries to tell Fergus that it's Elinor but doesn't listen and locks her in the tapestry room for protection as he, the Lords, and their clans go after Elinor. Elinor runs through the forest with Fergus, the Lords, their sons, and the soldiers chasing her. Elinor is captured and is about to be killed by Fergus until Merida interferes.
Suddenly, Mor'du appears and attacks the soldiers and Fergus. When he attacks Merida, Elinor breaks free from the ropes and saves Merida just in time and starts fighting Mor'du. After slamming Elinor into one of the stones, he turns to kill Merida again until Elinor lures him into smashing again the now cracked stone, which then crushes him to his death. They notice a wisp coming from his body revealing the image of the prince; nodding thankfully for releasing him from his curse, and then disappears. Merida realizes it is the second sunrise and grabs the tapestry and throws it around Elinor but realizes nothing's happening. When Merida thinks she failed, she tearfully hugs her mother and apologizes for everything and that she loves her. Then when all seemed lost, the tapestry magically seals and Merida feels a human hand touching her hair and realizes Elinor is human again. Elinor is so happy and proud that she kisses her daughter lots of times. Fergus comes and hugs his wife and daughter and kisses Elinor. Merida reminds her that she is naked under the tapestry then Elinor tells Fergus the same thing, so, he tells the Lords to turn around as the triplets, (who were, later in the film, turned into bear cubs; due to eating the rest of the cursed tart) turned back into humans, come running naked and hugging their parents and sister.
Later, Merida and Elinor are sewing a new tapestry together of Merida and Elinor as a bear until they are called to the docks to say goodbye to the Lords and then, they both ride on their horses and journey around Scotland making their bond stronger than before.
Ten years after the events of Brave, Elinor's husband Fergus is slain in a battle with invaders from Camelot, widowing her and leaving her daughter Merida to be the queen of DunBroch. However, the clans do not think a woman can rule on her own, and rebel by kidnapping Harris, Hubert, and Hamish. However, after several months of questing, Merida and her new friend Belle save the boys and take them back home.
She makes her first official appearance in "The Bear King". Elinor presents Merida with the crown to rule DunBroch, but the ceremony is interrupted by the witch, who demands to be paid the price for the magic used by Fergus to win the battle. After Merida repays the debt, they try the ceremony again, and the witch interrupts again, this time wanting to allow Merida to see the one person who could not be at the coronation: her father.
Queen Elinor makes very rare appearances at the Disney Parks, with the official explanation stating that she has a lot of very important things to do back in DunBroch and that her duties prevent her from meeting her daughter's fans. She had the honor of coronating her daughter at her Disney Princess coronation ceremony, and very briefly met Jeffry Lange.
- Eurasian bears are brown (like the stuffed trophy bears in the castle), but Elinor in bear form was black, possibly because instead of being a real bear she was turned into a bear by magic.
- She was directly inspired by one of the pictures of Lady Macbeth from Shakespeare's play Macbeth.
- Elinor's name means "shining light" in Gaelic.
- Emma Thompson, Elinor's voice actress, strongly implies that Elinor was a lot like Merida in her teen years―but this hasn't been confirmed.
- In order to create the desired look for Queen Elinor's dress, Pixar's art department had to take a couple of samples of matted silk and paint them with metallic paint, plus add some embellishments. Afterward, shading artists could create the same look in the computer.