The Case Against Rhaenyra Targaryen


*Spoiler Alert*

The selfishness of the Princess of Dragonstone and heir to the Iron Throne truly knows no bounds. 

Rhaenyra wouldn’t be the first potential monarch to flout their inheritance and make a mockery of the central tenets of the Targaryen dynasty. And she wouldn’t be the first to feel that just because she has the blood of Old Valyria, she deserves to be revered and worshiped. 

But the case of Rhaenyra becoming Queen of the Seven Kingdoms is different. And no, it isn’t because she’s a woman. And no, it isn’t because she birthed several bastard children. The case against the Black Queen is simple: she’s unfit to wear the crown. 

HBO’s House of the Dragon and its book counterpart Fire and Blood shows the princess as a young idealist, who’s sheltered and protected by the walls of the Red Keep.

Now, it would be wrong to consider her privileged background as a weakness and sign of her not being worthy of the Iron Throne since pretty much every Westerosi monarch lived with a silver spoon in their mouths. 

But Rhaenyra stands out from the others because she never grew out of this black and white thinking. 

She had all the cards stacked against her from the start. She was born a woman in a violent and misogynistic realm. 

And instead of spending her youth rallying supporters and garnering the love and respect of the country, she spent it living in the dream that just because she’s a Targaryen, the realm would never dare to usurp her. 

Rhaenyra’s childhood nickname is the Realm’s Delight. She was perhaps the most beloved princess in history, yet she never had the support of the ones in power. Why is this?

Well, it’s simple…yes, she was loved. 

But she was never respected. 

Every Prince or Princess of Dragonstone has had to fight to earn the respect of the people, knowing that they cannot rely on love or Targaryen superiority to aid them in their ascension to the throne. 

Yet, Rhaenyra unfortunately failed to understand that she needed to play the Game of Thrones. 

It seems like she was under the impression that the second she was named heir of the Iron Throne she won the game. 

And even after the brother Aegon was born, she never seems to take his existence as a threat to her claim. Until it’s too late. 

The funny thing about Rhaenyra is that she seems to understand that the Queen and her supporters are plotting against her, yet never makes any strong political moves to counteract their schemes. 

Yes, she agrees to marry Prince Laenor, but she never gives birth to any of his children to make her claim as heir stronger. 

Yes, she knows that she knows she needs children and knows she cannot have them with Laenor, so she goes and gives birth to several bastards and attempts to pass them off as legitimate. 

Yet, she seemingly didn’t understand how hair and skin color works and gaslit the entire realm into thinking her pale skinned, black-haired children were the sons of the dark skinned, white-haired Laenor. 

She burns every bridge of support that catches her attention, she fails to properly assemble a strong batch of political supporters, and she has little to know interest in learning how to properly govern an entire country. 

And when the Greens begin their war against the Blacks and start the Dance of the Dragons, Rhaenyra is somehow shocked by their willingness to usurp her throne. She’s arguably the worst player of the Game of Thrones, and this is what makes her special. 

She has a nice heart and gentle soul, why else would she be remembered as the Realm’s Delight. The tragedy of her story is that she’s a good person but a bad ruler. 

There is a myth surrounding the supposed magic built into the Iron Throne. If the throne of Aegon the Conqueror deems you unworthy to sit on it, it will cut you. And that simple cut will foreshadow your terrible, quick reign.

Rhaenyra’s father was cut by the Iron Throne, not because he’s a bad person, but simply because he was too fragile of a person to be fully capable of the power of being king. 

And later in history arguably morally cruel kings have sat the throne, and never had the throne pierce their skin. Because even though they we’re terrible people, the throne still considered them capable rulers.

After Rhaenyra and the Blacks lay siege on King’s Landing and take Queen Alicent and her court as hostage, the Black Queen decides to hold a public coronation where she is cut by the Iron Throne the second she sits on it. 

This foreshadows her short six-month long reign that ultimately leads to her horrific execution and the murder of her children. 

And from that moment on she’s not remembered as the Realm’s Delight, but as an unworthy wicked queen who deserved what she got. 

The case against Rhaenyra is a compelling one, so compelling that I cannot consider myself a member of Team Black. 

Yes, Rhaenyra is unfit to sit the throne, and her tragedy should remind all who play the Game of Thrones that they need to less on their heritage and more on their strengths as an individual. 

In the canon of the books, A Song of Ice and Fire, Daenerys Targaryen yet to land on Westerosi soil and begin her journey to become the first Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. 

I can only hope she opens a history book and learns the tragic lesson the Black Queen Rhaenyra had to learn far too late.