Episode 3 of House of the Dragon begins with a young Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen (Milly Alcock), dismayed and disgruntled by her marriage prospects, waving off unsatisfactory suitors.
Regardless of the circumstances, it’s no fun for a young woman to feel pressured to find a husband. But in the fierce world of Westeros, Rhaenyra needs to hurry up and get that ring to further secure her future throne — or else.
Who winds up becoming Mr. Rhaenyra Targaryen? We’ve already become acquainted with one husband, and we’ll soon get to really know another. Major spoilers ahead.
Who is Rhaenyra’s first husband?
Laenor Velaryon, son of the Sea Snake, Corlys Velaryon (Steve Toussaint), becomes Rhaenyra’s first husband. Laenor’s mother, Princess Rhaenys Targaryen (Eve Best), is the first cousin of King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine).
While we can’t know for sure at this point if Laenor will wind up marrying Rhaenyra, House of the Dragon has faithfully followed George R.R. Martin’s prequel writings so far. We’ve also met Laenor (Theo Nate) at the Stepstones, standing alongside his father and fellow Driftmark men in Episode 3, “Second of His Name.”
It’s been confirmed that, later in the season, an older Laenor will be played by John MacMillan, so the character is clearly important. Promotional materials for House of the Dragon have showcased young Laenor walking alongside Rhaenyra, as well as the two dancing together in a lavish banquet that could very well be their wedding.
In the books, Laenor and Rhaenyra are married for political reasons, and to keep their bloodline pure. Their union was always considered advantageous, though steeped in controversy — Laenor’s homosexuality was an open secret. That never bothered Rhaenyra, who considered her husband more of a friend, but it did infuriate Alicent Hightower (Olivia Cooke), who began to question the parentage of the three children Rhaenyra gave birth to: Jacaerys, Lucerys, and Joffrey.
Laenor dies, however, only six years into the marriage. Based on House of the Dragon’s trailers and teasers, the timing of his passing may have changed, but once he does bite the dust Rhaenyra will marry again, this time by following a Targaryen custom.
Who is Rhaenyra’s second husband?
Daemon Targaryen, younger brother of King Viserys I Targaryen and uncle to Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen, weds his niece shortly after the loss of her first husband and his second wife.
In the books, their union is considered scandalous not because of the incest and inbreeding, but because neither of their previous partners had been dead for more than six months. Daemon and Rhaenyra also marry against the wishes of Rhaenyra’s father, the king, although Viserys begrudgingly accepts the pairing after realizing they share a genuine affection. Together they have two children, Aegon III and Viserys II Targaryen, and Daemon supports Rhaenyra until the bitter end.
Daemon and Rhaenyra’s relationship in the books is romanticized, despite the objectively disturbing elements of their coupling. While Daemon still calls on his lover Mysaria during his third marriage, and revels in his newfound power, they’re portrayed as genuinely in love.
While incest and age gaps are standard romantic practices among the Targaryens, they’re not particularly attractive selling points for television audiences. It seems probable that HBO will dial back the amorousness and focus on the bureaucratic aspects of the uncle-niece partnership.
Then again, House of the Dragon is a Game of Thrones prequel, so incest is still on the table.
House of the Dragon Episode 4 premieres Sunday, Sept. 11 on HBO.