Why Viserys Stands By Rhaenyra As His Heir In House Of The Dragon

A House of the Dragon writer explains why King Viserys I stands by Rhaenyra as his heir. The Game of Thrones prequel series opens with King Viserys (Paddy Considine) being chosen as the heir to the Iron Throne in a vote called by his grandfather King Jaehaerys over his cousin Rhaenys (Eve Best), earning her the moniker “The Queen Who Never Was.” When faced with a similar decision after the deaths of his wife and would-be male heir, King Viserys I broke the patriarchal mold and chose his daughter, Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock), as his heir over the safer but potentially disastrous choice of his brother, Prince Daemon (Matt Smith).


Viserys’ decision is initially accepted, but after he takes on a new wife (Alicent Hightower, played by Emily Carey) and produces a male heir, the tides begin to change. Viserys faces pressure from many lords of Westeros to marry his daughter off, as well as from his advisor Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) to name his new son as heir. Complicating matters is the question of unity in the realm, as the public begins to question Viserys’ choice of heir, and the question of Rhaenyra’s reputation after the shocking sequences in House of the Dragon episode 4. Despite the myriad pressures faced by Viserys as a result of his decision, he is steadfast in his choice of heir and refuses to back down, baffling many of his subjects.

Related: Viserys’ Illness Makes House Of The Dragon’s Timeline More Confusing

In a conversation with The Official Game of Thrones Podcast: House Of The Dragon, House of the Dragon writer Sara Hess discusses King Viserys’ motivations as he continues to stand by his daughter. Though there are many factors at play in Viserys’ decisions, including concerns about his unstable brother and the desire to appear strong and certain in his decision-making as king, Hess reveals a more personal reason for his support of Rhaenyra. See what she has to say below:

Viserys was deeply in love with his wife Aemma, and never stopped loving her, and doesn’t ever stop loving her. And he realizes that his quest for a boy ended up killing her, and he feels horrible about it. And this is his way of making up to her. Like, ‘I should have realized [that] you gave me Rhaenyra,’ and he says in episode 1 [to Rhaenyra] ‘You are the best of your mother.’ And she is Aemma’s daughter, she is Aemma’s child, she’s the only thing he has left of Aemma, so he’s going to make her heir and he’s never going to change his mind because he’s never going to stop loving Aemma. Putting Rhaenyra as his heir is his penance for what happened.

After the graphic House of the Dragon episode 1 birth scene, Hess’ comments prove that Viserys is desperate to make up for his hand in his wife’s demise, which may be a small comfort to viewers. After witnessing the king’s bond with his new wife, who was formerly his daughter’s best friend, it would be easy to assume that he had left Aemma (Sian Brooke) in the past, especially since Alicent gave him the thing he previously wanted so badly – a son. However, in House of the Dragon, the past is never truly put to rest; it continues to affect the characters’ actions in the present as they attempt to correct their mistakes or are ruled by them. In Viserys’ case, his attempt to correct the mistakes he made with Aemma may result in even greater tragedies as the realm braces for a war over his succession. Whatever his reasons, the king’s support of his daughter’s claim is historic and seeks to herald in a new age, for which Westeros is evidently not prepared.

After episode 5, House of the Dragon will feature a 10-year time jump in episode 6, which is intriguing due to the many cliffhangers in the violent wedding between Rhaenyra and Laenor Velaryon (Theo Nate). Though the king is still alive in the trailers for episode 6, Viserys’ health has clearly taken a turn for the worse, and his impending death seems inevitable. Once the king does pass away, the battle over succession in House of the Dragon will likely be kicked into high gear, forcing Rhaenyra to cement her status as heir and driving an even bigger wedge between herself and Alicent.

Source: The Official Game of Thrones Podcast: House Of The Dragon

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