Ser Criston Cole became the Sworn Protector of Princess Rhaenyra. This was after she chose him to be a knight in the Kingsguard. He has been by her side ever since. He followed her when she rode into the forest during the hunting camp to celebrate Aegon II’s second birthday. Ser Criston also accompanied her on her tour set up by King Viserys to find her a proper suitor. He has also been seen guarding Rhaenyra’s room at night. However, with the recent events in House of the Dragon episode 5, the mantle of the Sworn Protector of Princess Rhaenyra is up for grabs. It will be Ser Harwin Strong, also known as Breakbones, who is the eldest son of Lyonel Strong the current Hand of the King, to take up the position.
During House of the Dragon episode 5 Ser Criston Cole and Rhaenyra’s relationship was destroyed by a sequence of events. While returning from High Tide after setting up Princess Rhaenyra’s marriage to Ser Laenor Velaryon, Ser Criston Cole made his move. He proposed marriage to Rhaenyra and asked her to run away with him. They would be free together and could live the rest of their lives happily without the burden of duty and responsibility especially as the King’s heir. By the end of the episode all of this tension boiled over and resulted in Ser Criston Cole becoming violent. He bashed the face of Ser Joffrey Lonmouth and killed him brutally right in the middle of the wedding celebrations in front of everyone.
So, naturally Ser Criston will not be Rhaenyra’s Sworn Protector anymore. In fact, his position in the Kingsguard is also up in the air. He will most likely retain his position due to his newfound alliance with Queen Alicent Hightower. She will convince King Viserys to let him stay on the Kingsguard and even manage to make him the Lord Commander in the future after the passing of Ser Harrold.
The mantle of the Sworn Protector of Princess Rhaenyra will be taken up by Ser Harwin Strong. This will be in accordance to the books. It will also help set up another scandal involving Rhaenyra in House of the Dragon. Episode 5 has already foreshadowed this happening. When the crowd became unruly and chaotic during the wedding celebrations as Ser Criston Cole attacked Joffrey Lonmouth, Rhaenyra was getting pushed around. Ser Harwin Strong who was seen dancing with Rhaenyra previously came to her rescue. He carried her on his shoulder out of the hall. This already makes him the protector of Rhaenyra.
He has been seen before in House of the Dragon. Ser Harwin Strong left an impact during episode 3 with just one look. Princess Rhaenyra was coming back from the forest after killing the wild boar that had attacked her. Her bloodied appearance shocked everyone as she walked towards the camp. However, Ser Harwin Strong looked at her with an expression of approval and awe. He even gave her an assuring smile. Fans will also remember seeing him in episode 4. This was when Rhaenyra and Daemon were out in King’s Landing, enjoying the night. He was the Captain of the City Watch whom Rhaenyra had run into.
He is the perfect candidate for the Sworn Protector of Princess Rhaenyra. They are already acquainted with one another and understand each other pretty well. In fact in the books, during the 10 day tourney planned after the wedding of Rhaenyra and Laenor, Ser Harwin Strong asked for her favour. Ever since, he has been right by her side even throughout the Dance of the Dragons and has been supporting her and the blacks. In the preview for House of the Dragon episode 6, it seems as if the show will also explore a scandal between Princess Rhaenyra and Ser Harwin.