Warning: The following post contains spoilers for Episode 1 of The White Princess.
The White Princess begins with its central character, Elizabeth of York aka ‘Lizzie’ (Jodie Comer), recalling the night she spent with Richard III, on the eve of the Battle of Bosworth. It is a night of intimacy, her eventual husband, King Henry VII (Jacob Collins-Levy), taunts her with throughout The White Princess premiere.
In a scene in The White Princess that TV Line reports as playing quite differently in The White Princess novel, Henry VII insists they confirm Lizzie’s fertility by assuring an heir has been conceived, before he will marry her. Not long after their encounter, The White Princess confirms that a York/Tudor heir is on their way. Or are they? Is it really King Henry VII’s heir, Lizzie is expecting? Or is Lizzie keeping a major paternity secret heading into The White Princess Episode 2?
Why Lizzie’s baby might be Richard III’s on The White Princess.
Right out of the gate, The White Princess confirms that Lizzie and Richard III had an intimate relationship. The timing of that relationship is where things get really interesting.
When The White Princess begins, there is an introduction that explains The White Princess is picking up two days after Richard III was killed during the Battle of Bosworth. Richard III’s defeat closes The White Princess‘ predecessor series, The White Queen.
During The White Princess, Lizzie meets her intended husband, Henry VII, for the first time. It is unclear how much time passes between their initial meeting, and when they become intimate. However, The White Princess never clearly eschews the idea it is within a window that could make either Henry VII, or Richard III, the father of Lizzie’s baby.
The supporting evidence on The White Princess.
The timing of Lizzie’s tryst with Richard III is the greatest indicator that a paternity mystery might be afoot on The White Princess. There is also the nuance that The White Princess opens on Lizzie remembering her night with Richard III.
It is a curious thing for The White Princess to emphasize, if it ends up serving no greater story purpose. Has The White Princess put an emphasis on Lizzie and Richard III’s dalliance for a reason?
The White Princess also goes out of its way to remind the audience that Lizzie is not chaste before meeting Henry, something the newly crowned King of England is so outraged by; he threatens to call off their marriage alliance, on numerous occasions during The White Princess premiere.
Lizzie’s change of heart concerning her baby seems to initially come from her mother’s impassioned speech in The White Princess Episode 1. However, there could be more to it than that. Lizzie could suspect her child is a “hidden” heir to the House of York, a dangerous birthright.
If Lizzie were to even breathe a word about her child’s real parentage, they would be in grave danger. For that reason alone, it makes sense she would never risk uttering the truth aloud.
If Lizzie seems more empowered after her wedding in The White Princess Episode 1, consider a possible source. What better revenge could a “hidden” Lizzie hope for, than an unwitting Henry having to raise his enemy’s child? A child, who could be the first in line to succeed Henry VII as the King of England.
The counter evidence on The White Princess.
Lizzie is never shown considering Henry is not the father of her baby, during The White Princess Episode 1. In fact, she appears so certain she is having Henry’s baby, she is downright repulsed.
While she ultimately decides to keep the baby, and marry Henry, she never hints the impetus for her change of her heart is that she might not be having the baby of her mortal enemy.
It is actually quite the opposite. During The White Princess Episode 1, Lizzie privately laments to her mother that she should be having Richard’s child. It is a strange thing for her to say if she thought there was any chance, she might actually be getting her wish.
Keep in mind, that during The White Princess premiere, Lizzie’s mother, Elizabeth Woodville (Essie Davis), urges her daughter to forget she and Richard III ever had a relationship. Perhaps, Lizzie has taken her mother’s words so much to heart; she does not even think to question her baby’s paternity.
Given the timing, it is odd that Henry would so readily accept he is the father of Lizzie’s baby, if he knows there is a chance, he is not. Since Henry knows the last time Lizzie, and Richard III were together, he should certainly suspect there might be something amiss with the paternity of the child he assumes is his at the end of The White Princess Episode 1.
Is there an unintended paternity mystery on The White Princess?
It is entirely possible The White Princess does not intend for there to be any question, or doubt surrounding the paternity of Lizzie’s baby. While the timing is suspicious, no character privately questions Lizzie, nor doubts her child’s paternity. A curious omission given that everyone seems to know about Lizzie and Richard III’s intimacy before the Battle of Bosworth. At least the key players express they do, during the course of The White Princess Episode 1.
If The White Princess was going to cast any doubts about Lizzie’s baby, one would think Margaret (Michelle Fairley) would be among the first to point them out in Episode 1. However, it is in her best interest to have her son marry Lizzie, so maybe she would stay quiet for the “greater good.”
It all makes for a compelling mystery for The White Princess to possibly explore in Episode 2, onward. Only time will tell if it all leads to anything. Tune in to The White Princess to find out if Lizzie is keeping a paternity secret. The White Princess airs Sundays at 8 p.m. EST on Starz.
[Featured Image by Starz]