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A noble daughter with the blood of ancient royalty
Her face pale as a corpse, and heavy with lines
Her skin smooth and cool to the touch.
In one way, she is old and dead,
In another, she is young and alive as well.

In perfect step, she dances with her lover
A leader who glares with angry eyes
They say that he took her from her home
To become his bride, forever bound to him
After all this time, she must be dizzy.

The ice queen knows she cannot be his favorite
Yet despite his many other paramours
She is loyal, never turning away her face
Always staying bright and brilliant
Though to you, she may seem cold and distant.

Surely you know her name, or something similar
Her legacy a one-word mark for many people
Maybe you have seen her, but I doubt you have met
Below the surface, she is much like you and me
Perhaps someday, we will greet her.

Who is she?

Every line is intended to be a clue. Try to identify all of them, if you can!

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  • $\begingroup$ I was planning to answer the ice queen... until it was mentioned near the end T_T oh well.... $\endgroup$ – stack reader Jan 25 '17 at 1:01
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    $\begingroup$ Elizabeth II, obviously. $\endgroup$ – Ian MacDonald Jan 25 '17 at 7:30
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I think she is probably

Jupiter's moon Europa.

I have explanations for almost but not quite all the lines.

A noble daughter with the blood of ancient royalty

As Wikipedia saith: "In Greek mythology Europa was the mother of King Minos of Crete, a woman with Phoenician origin of high lineage".

Her face pale as a corpse, and heavy with lines

The surface of Europa is ice; it's mostly light in colour but is criss-crossed by striking lines called "lineae".

Her skin smooth and cool to the touch.

Europa is one of the smoothest objects in the solar system. Its surface is made of ice.

In one way, she is old and dead,
In another, she is young and alive as well.

Like any other body in the solar system, Europa is basically a big lump of (non-living) rock. But its surface is much younger, probably because of tectonic activity. OP's comment: And if the mythological Europa had truly existed, she would have died millennia ago.

In perfect step, she dances with her lover

Europa is tidally locked to Jupiter. (And in Greek mythology Jupiter (=Zeus) and Europa were indeed lovers.)

A leader who glares with angry eyes

Not sure exactly what that's about, though of course Jupiter was the leader of the gods. (The "angry eyes" might be a reference to the Great Red Spot?) OP's comment: Yes, the eyes refer to the Red Spot.

They say that he took her from her home
To become his bride, forever bound to him

Perhaps Europa was captured by Jupiter rather than e.g. being formed by impact. I haven't yet found that out. (Also, in Greek mythology Europa was abducted by Zeus. She wasn't exactly "forever bound to him", though.) OP's comment: Zeus/Jupiter abducted her as a strong bull. The moon is bound in Jupiter's strong gravitational pull. Please excuse the lame wordplay.

After all this time, she must be dizzy.

As a result of constantly rotating around Jupiter while spinning on its axis for billions of years. (And Europa's orbital period is only 3.5 days!)

The ice queen knows she cannot be his favorite

I guess this just means that Europa is not the largest or closest of Jupiter's moons.

Yet despite his many other paramours

Jupiter has many other moons.

She is loyal, never turning away her face

Again: tidally locked.

Always staying bright and brilliant

Europa's albedo is very high.

Though to you, she may seem cold and distant.

It's a long way from earth. OP's comment: Also, Europa's mean distance from Jupiter's "surface" is over 600000 km. For reference, Earth's radius is 6371 km.

Surely you know her name, or something similar
Her legacy a one-word mark for many people

Is this just a reference to Europe? (Many people are European.) OP's comment: In older atlases, the label for Evropa/Europe was typically written in larger letters than other labels.

Maybe you have seen her, but I doubt you have met

No human has been there yet.

Below the surface, she is much like you and me

It is thought that beneath the ice is a salt-water ocean. Humans are mostly salt water. Or, perhaps, "you and me" might stand instead for our planet. Europa probably, like the earth, has an iron core surrounded by a lot of rock and a salt-water ocean.

Perhaps someday, we will greet her.

I take it the author of the riddle hasn't read Arthur C Clarke's "2001" :-). OP's comment: That's quite the monolithic assumption.

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  • $\begingroup$ Damn it, your answer already looks better. So close...! $\endgroup$ – Xenocacia Jan 25 '17 at 1:30
  • $\begingroup$ Good work... I need to make these more difficult! $\endgroup$ – MikeQ Jan 25 '17 at 7:49
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Preliminary answer:

I think she is Venus (in all forms).

Substantiation of clues in progress:

A noble daughter with the blood of ancient royalty

Venus is the daughter of Jupiter and Dione (king of queen of Roman gods)

Her face pale as a corpse, and heavy with lines

The surface of the planet Venus is white, but lined (?)

Her skin smooth and cool to the touch.

No idea about this, maybe something to do with a famous marble sculpture of the goddess

In one way, she is old and dead/ In another, she is young and alive as well.

Planet is "old" and barren of life, the goddess is always portrayed as young and vivacious

In perfect step, she dances with her lover/ A leader who glares with angry eyes

Venus is locked in orbit around the Sun, "angry eyes" being the Sun's rays

They say that he took her from her home/ To become his bride, forever bound to him/ After all this time, she must be dizzy.

Not too sure about this part, but you try spinning for eons like the planet. You'd be dizzy too.

The ice queen knows she cannot be his favorite/ Yet despite his many other paramours/ She is loyal, never turning away her face

There are 7 (or 8) other planets orbiting the Sun

Always staying bright and brilliant/ Though to you, she may seem cold and distant.

Venus is the second brightest object in our sky, but the white color makes it look cold (and of course its really far away)

Surely you know her name, or something similar

Come on, who doesn't know Venus?

Her legacy a one-word mark for many people

Women are from Venus?

Maybe you have seen her, but I doubt you have met

It is likely you've seen the planet before, but extremely unlikely that you've ever been there

Below the surface, she is much like you and me

Um. Not sure.

Perhaps someday, we will greet her

Being the planet nearest to the Earth, it is likely that one of the space exploration missions in the future will be a trip to Venus.

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  • $\begingroup$ I have a similar but different theory. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Jan 25 '17 at 1:10

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