As the last episodes of HBO’s Game of Thrones fast approach, the battle between two queens is being lined up. However, both of these characters are actually second in line in their claim to the iron throne and the rulership of the seven kingdoms. So, who are the real contenders for the iron throne?
SPOILER ALERT: This article discusses Episode 4 (titled “The Last of the Starks”) of HBO’s Game of Thrones. Please proceed with caution if you have not yet viewed this episode and wish to avoid spoilers.
Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke) has long been considered one of the rightful heirs to the iron throne after Robert Baratheon (Mark Addy) headed a rebellion and killed Daenerys’ father, Aerys II Targaryen, also known as the Mad King. While Aerys’ deserved to overthrown due to his crazy demeanor and downright cruel rule, it doesn’t actually mean that Daenerys is automatically dismissed as an heir in Game of Thrones.
However, as The Washington Post points out, with all that has happened to Dany recently, she looks set to become the Mad Queen, something the seven kingdoms don’t really want. But, there is another option: her nephew.
Jon Snow (Kit Harington) has always been known as the bastard son of Ned Stark (Sean Bean) and, therefore, not ever considered a contender for the iron throne. However, it has since been revealed in Game of Thrones that Ned was hiding a very important secret: Jon is actually a Targaryen.
Jon was born in wedlock to Rhaegar Targaryen and Lyanna Stark, Ned’s sister. Rhaegar was Daenerys’ older brother and the next in line after their father, Aerys II. During Robert’s Rebellion, Rhaegar was killed and it was assumed all of his children were as well. However, Lyanna entrusted her brother with her son, Aegon Targaryen, and Ned renamed him Jon Snow in order to protect his identity from Robert.
This means that Jon, as a legitimate son of Rhaegar, holds a much stronger claim on the iron throne than Daenerys, who thought she was the last Targaryen left in Westeros. While Jon has long said that he doesn’t want the throne, his lineage gives him the most legitimate claim in Westeros.
Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) is the other contender for the iron throne currently in Game of Thrones. Her claim is based on the fact that she was married to King Robert Baratheon and since all of her children have died, she is now the legitimate ruler. However, now that Daenerys has officially recognized Gendry as a Baratheon, he is now first in line over her claim to the iron throne. However, Aegon Targaryen’s claim still trumps Gendry’s position.
Season 1 of Game of Thrones saw Cersei on the hunt for all of Robert’s bastards. Most of these children were killed in an effort to make sure there was no other legitimate claim to the iron throne after rumors started circulating that Cersei’s children were produced from her incestuous relationship with her brother, Jaime (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau). If this claim could be proved, it would mean that Robert’s bastards were more entitled to the throne than Cersei’s children.
Gendry managed to evade detection and is currently alive in Game of Thrones. In Episode 4 of the final season, Daenerys legitimized his birth and he is now considered the head of the Baratheon stronghold. While his claim could throw Cersei immediately from her position, it would also mean that Cersei would have to acknowledge that Daenerys was a queen and, therefore, able to bestow titles to illegitimate heirs. And, this is likely something that will never happen. This means that heading into Episode 5 of Game of Thrones, Daenerys and Cersei will continue to clash as they both battle for their place on the iron throne.
Season 8 of Game of Thrones returns to HBO with Episode 5 on Sunday, May 12, at 9 p.m. ET.