TV & Movies

Rhaenyra's Reign As Queen In House Of The Dragon May Include This Villainous Twist

The fight for the Iron Throne will only get hotter.

by Kadin Burnett
Originally Published: 
Emma D'Arcy as Rhaenyra Targaryen in the House of the Dragon series
HBO/Ollie Upton

Despite the physical and political troubles that come with sitting atop the Iron Throne, it remains the most sought-after seat in Westeros. For an entire season, House of the Dragon explored princess Rhaenyra Targaryen’s (Milly Alcock/Emma D’Arcy) exhausting attempt to seize the troublesome seat for herself. Over the course of 10 episodes, the princess endured countless suitors, marriage schemes, and attempts on her life. In Episode 9, however, the would-be queen was usurped by her half-brother Aegon II (Tom Glynn-Carney), but that didn’t stop her from attempting to take back her birthright in the season finale.

From Episode 1, Rhaenyra was promised the Iron Throne. Her father, King Viserys I (Paddy Considine) elected her as the heir to the Seven Kingdoms. Though she never occupied the throne itself in Season 1, her likely coronation had been teased since Episode 3. The clue came during the royal hunt when she encountered the white stag — a symbol of royalty. Eagle-eyed viewers may have noticed the stag symbol on her crown. Despite the crown atop her head, her journey as ruler of the realm is far from over — and sounds very similar to that of Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke).

Rhaenyra Becomes Queen In The House Of The Dragon Season 1 Finale

In the show, it’s Rhaenys (Eve Best) who informs Rhaenyra about the death of her father and of Aegon II’s coronation. The shock sends a pregnant Rhaenyra into premature labor, resulting in the death of her newborn child. Meanwhile, Daemon (Matt Smith) attempts to get rally his Dragonstone troops; some pledge their allegiance immediately, whilst others are coaxed by the threat of dragon fire. With their supporters finally starting to come together, Daemon and Rhaenyra hold a funeral for their stillborn child, and shortly thereafter, Rhaenyra appoints herself as queen of the realm with her own coronation.

How Does The Targaryen Civil War Happen In The Book?

In the book, Viserys I make several attempts to find his daughter a match until Rhaenyra agrees to marry Laenor Velaryon, the son of Corlys Velaryon after Viserys threatens to remove her as heir. During their marriage, she and Laenor would have three children, Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey. (However, a common rumor throughout the realm suggested the real father of her children was Kingsguard knight Ser Harwin Strong.) After Laenor dies years later, Rhaenyra gets secretly married to Daemon. Rhaenyra and Daemon take residence at Dragonstone and have two children, Aegon III and Viserys II.

Ollie Upton/HBO

Despite her marriage to Daemon, Rhaenyra is still regarded as the heir until Viserys I dies, and Otto Hightower (the Hand of the King), and Ser Criston Cole (the Lord Commander of the Kingsguard and the alleged former lover of Rhaenyra) sought to crown the king and Alicent’s son Aegon II. They keep news of the king’s death from Rhaenyra to allow time for Aegon II to be crowned first. Uninterested in acknowledging her younger half-brother as the king, Rhaenyra opts for conflict, and the Targaryen civil war, known as “The Dance of Dragons,” begins.

During this time, Rhaenyra is pregnant, and she slips into a deep rage that threatens her pregnancy and ultimately leads to her baby dying during childbirth. Further furious, Rhaenyra holds a coronation of her own which is attended by her supporters, who want to honor Viserys I’s succession orders. Those supporters bring the former crown of her father and King Jaehaerys I, which proves to be a massive affront to Aegon II. She also refuses an offer to be granted control of Dragonstone if she renounces her claim to the throne. And so, Rhaenyra begins recruiting the great houses, like the Arryns, Starks, and Baratheons, to support her campaign. She eventually launches an assault on King’s Landing. Though Aegon II and Alicent try to counterattack, Rhaenyra and Daemon prove to be too formidable. The City Watch also turns on Alicent, giving their loyalty to Daemon who once presided over them.

The fall of King’s Landing lasts no longer than a day. In the aftermath, Aegon II is able to escape thanks to the help of his Kingsguard, while Otto Hightower is executed for treason and Alicent and her daughter, Helaena Targaryen, are held as captives. During her re-coronation, Rhaenyra goes to sit upon the Iron Throne, but as she ascends the sworded seat, she suffers several brutal cuts and scrapes, which are taken as a sign that the throne had rejected her.

The people of King’s Landing are at first receptive to Rhaenyra’s successful campaign, seeing as they were never quite fond of Aegon II. However, Rhaenyra grows crueler over time, raising taxes and carrying out executions daily. Eventually, she is regarded as a female version of her ancestor king, “Maegor the Cruel.” The new queen also makes plans to take out Aegon II, Prince Aemond, and Prince Daeron, the third youngest son of Alicent and Viserys, after they stole her birthright and killed her sons during the civil war.

Ollie Upton/HBO

How Long Is Rhaenyra Queen?

As queen, Rhaenyra would only hold the throne for half a year, continuing to be bloodied by the throne every time she sat on it. With the war still going on, Rhaenyra started to lose trust and key supporters. Her reign took a turn when the popular Helaena Targaryen takes her own life after being in captivity. The news of her death causes massive riots in the capital, as many believe that she was killed on Rhaenyra’s orders. Rioters storm the dragon pits, leading to the death of Rhaenyra’s son Joffrey. Overrun, Rhaenyra flees King’s Landing, still intent on finding Aegon II.

Years pass, and she enlists the help of Alfred Broome, one of the senior knights during her rule over Dragonstone. Upon her capture of King’s Landing, she appointed Ser Robert Quince as the castellan of Dragonstone, instead of a now-scorned Alfred. While heading to Dragonstone, Alfred betrays Rhaenyra by tipping off Aegon II, who ambushes her. With Rhaenyra defeated, Aegon II would then feed his half-sister to his dragon, Sunfyre, in front of her son Aegon III, before decreeing that Rhaenyra was never the true queen. Ironically, Rhaenyra’s son would eventually succeed her younger brother and become King Aegon III.

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