As was seen in Game of Thrones (GOT), marriage was much more of a political contract between houses and families. The highborn women of the realm are often just bargaining chips for the Kings to strengthen their claim on the throne or gather a house’s fidelity. Similarly, as seen in the latest third episode of House of the Dragon (HOTD) – “Second of his name”, Viserys Targaryen is faced with the tough choice of finding the best suitor for her reluctant and rebellious daughter, Rhaenyra Targaryen. Viserys suggest the name of Jason Lannister, which Rhaenyra refuses. He then later tells her that she is free to marry whosoever she likes. Ignoring the fate of characters in the book Fire & Blood, here we look at the potential suitors whom Rhaenyra will likely marry in the future of the series.
“…And when your father named me to his Kings guard, it was the highest honor any Cole have ever known. All that I have, I owe to you. Now I’d hardly call that toothless, Princess.” – Criston Cole
With the introduction of the character in the series, it was implied that Rhaenyra had a kind of romantic affection for Criston Cole (Fabien Frankel). She even chooses her to be the next knight of Kingsguard. However, she gives the reason for doing this because he was one of the few candidates for the post who has been in actual combat.
Also, it’s heavily implied in the episode that Ser Criston has become Rhaenyra’s personal bodyguard and something of a confidant. Ser Criston also finds himself in Rhaenyra’s debt for giving him the highest honor. During GOT, it was established that the members of the Kingsguard are expected to remain celibate. But, such was not the case during Targaryens’ rule. So, maybe, this affection might transform into a love affair and finally into marriage.
“Now… you and I both own a small piece of our ancestry.” – Daemon to Rhaenyra
When Rhaenyra first meets her uncle – Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith), a spark can be felt between the two. It is with more than just avuncular fondness that Daemon slips a Valyrian necklace around the princess’ neck. Similarly, when the King’s Hand, Otto Hightower goes to confront Daemon at Dragonstone for a stolen Dragon egg, Rhaenyra arrives and brings some sense into Daemon to not go for bloodshed. Daemon instantly understood what his niece said and agrees to return the egg to Otto.
So there is an undeniable great understanding between the two. Also, marrying within one’s family is not a stranger among Targaryens. However, if this does become true, it might not go well with Viserys. Because, only reason Viserys made Rhaenyra his heir is due to the fact that he and his small council came to fear Prince Daemon becoming king. Now that little Aegon is on verge of becoming the new heir, a match with Daemon could spell catastrophe for Rhaenyra’s claim.
“I’d do anything for my Queen… or… lady wife.” – Jason Lannister
Lannisters were the biggest players in the events of GOT. But, they still have to make their mark in HOTD. In the latest third episode, Viserys chooses Jason Lannister (Jefferson Hall) of the House Lannister as the best match for Rhaenyra. He hopes that this matrimony shall strengthen the house and offer Rhaenyra a safe future. Jason is the Lord of Casterly Rock and the Warden of the West. It was mentioned that Lannisters were extremely wealthy but they still lacked the prestige of House Velaryon or House Hightower.
However, Jason’s proposal does not land well with Rhaenyra as she found him “arrogant and self-serious”. Jason suggested that Rhaenyra should give up her claim to Iron Throne and join him as a wife in the west. This makes Rhaenyra furious. However, Viserys was reminded by Otto that he still can command Rhaenyra (as King’s orders) to marry Jason. But Viserys says that he does not want to command her into something that she doesn’t want. So, this option might also be a lost cause.
“We must give them one, an offering of flesh to bait the crab.” – Laenor Velaryon
Perhaps, the best suitor for Rhaenyra shall be – the Sea Snake’s only son, Laenor Velaryon. Like Rhaenyra he’s also a dragon rider. He enjoys riding the dragon and has a commanding nature in the family. He is cunning and a bit arrogant with the way he mocks his uncle, Vaemond Velaryon, as nothing but “Master of Complaints”. Laenor even suggests the idea of bringing out the Crabfeeders from their caves, by offering them bait.
In terms of Targaryen incest, this is about the best-case scenario of being a “distant” relation. Even the faithful Lyonel Strong (Gavin Spokes) suggests Rhaenyra’s marriage to Laenor Velaryon (John MacMillan). He points out that doing so shall not only eliminate the increasing rift between the houses and shall further strengthen them, but it shall also be a sensible thing to do.
“Let us speak no more of it.” – Otto Hightower
Probably one of the most creepy suggestions made to Viserys was marrying Rhaenyra to the still infant Aegon Targaryen, her own half-brother. The suggestion was made by the Hand, Otto Hightower. Otto says that doing this shall keep Rhaenyra much “closer to home”. Otto even thinks that Viserys might be more comfortable with this idea. He further says that even though the boy is just two, this shall “cease the endless proposals for Rhaenyra’s hand”.
Such a practice is common in the House Targaryen. The Targaryen family tree is littered with wedded siblings, including Aegon the Conqueror, who married both of his sisters. But, Viserys is angered by this proposal. He thrashes back at Otto by saying, “I came here to hunt… not to be suffocated by all this f***ing politicking.” Then Otto agrees to never bring up the topic again. Perhaps Otto wanted to end the discussion of Rhaenyra’s claim to the throne by marrying her to Aegon. This shall clear Aegon to become the next king. And, though we’re loath to admit it, it might be the safest political solution for Rhaenyra, she could extract a decree that they would rule as equals.
So, where the tables will turn exactly still remains to be seen in the series. Whatever it shall be, it will surely churn up the tides in the House Targaryen.