When episode 6 of House of the Dragon was released, the first thing that we all noticed was the fact that the paternity of Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen’s children was the focal point of Queen Alicent Hightower’s attacks. That’s because everyone in the realm was aware of the fact that the kids looked nothing like Ser Laenor Velaryon, who was Rhaenyra’s lawful husband. This led people to believe that the children belonged to Ser Harwin of House Strong. So, was Harwin Strong the father of Rhaenyra’s sons?
It was only implied that Ser Harwin Strong was the father of Rhaenyra’s children, but it was never said or admitted by anyone in House of the Dragon that he was the father. In that regard, the rumors are only implied as no one would ever admit that Harwin was the father due to the consequences.
As mentioned, the series never clearly established that Ser Harwin Strong was indeed the father of Rhaenyra Targaryen’s sons, but we can all make the assumption based on the things that happened in episode 6 that he is the real father of the boys. Even the relationship between Rhaenyra and Harwin was merely an implied one. That said, let’s look at this discussion in great detail.
Did Princess Rhaenyra Have An Affair With Ser Harwin?
Ever since the first five episodes of House of the Dragon, what became clear was that Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen was not someone willing to bind herself to what other people expected her to do. Instead, she loved doing things her own way and wanted the freedom to choose her own life. As such, she decided to have the freedom to choose her own lover as well.
This happened when she and Ser Laenor Velaryon had an agreement in relation to what their arranged marriage would be. They both agreed to perform their duties as husband and wife to make sure that they pleased their families. However, they also agreed to see other people that they preferred because of the fact that they didn’t necessarily love each other, as they both had their own preferences.
Of course, Rhaenyra initially wanted Ser Criston Cole to be her sidepiece while she was married to Ser Laenor. The problem was that Criston didn’t want to be Rhaenyra’s “whore” and wanted to have a more dignified role in the life of the princess. That meant that Rhaenyra had to look elsewhere in the sense that she needed to love another person while she was married to Laenor.
Episode 6 allowed us to see that this person might be Ser Harwin Strong, who we already met during the first five episodes of House of the Dragon. That’s because Rhaenyra and Harwin had moments with one another, despite the fact that they were quite short. It was clear that Harwin was attracted to Rhaenyra, but we never saw the same kind of attraction from Rhaenyra in the first five episodes.
Nevertheless, episode 6 does seem to indicate that they were indeed together, even though they never really said that they loved one another or were having an affair. That’s because Ser Harwin Strong, who was with the City Watch, spent most of his time by Rhaenyra’s side and was even quite close to her family. The City Watch should be patrolling the streets of King’s Landing instead of staying close to the royal family. As such, any normal person would think that there’s something going on with Rhaenyra and Harwin.
Still, episode 6 was never quite explicit in showing us that Rhaenyra and Harwin were having an affair. This is something that was taken straight out of the book, as Fire & Blood was never explicit in saying that they also had an affair. It was only implied in both the book and the series that the two were sleeping with each other behind everyone’s back. Nevertheless, anyone could see plain as day that they were indeed together due to how close they were to one another and how affectionate and caring Ser Harwin was towards the princess.
Is Sir Harwin Strong The Father Of Rhaenyra’s Sons?
Of course, one of the main focus points of episode 6 of House of the Dragon was the paternity of Rhaenyra’s sons. As early as the first scene, Queen Alicent Hightower demanded to see Princess Rhaenyra Targaryen’s baby just after she gave birth to it. And it was clear that she doubted the paternity of the child as she told Ser Laenor Velaryon that one of their children in the future would end up looking like him if he kept trying.
This sarcastic comment from Alicent was an indication that she believed that Laenor was not the baby’s son. Scenes later, we saw that Rhaenyra’s other children didn’t have the dark features and the white hair of Ser Laenor. Instead, they had Ser Harwin’s light skin and dark hair. So, does that mean that Ser Harwin Strong is the father of Rhaenyra’s sons?
Again, just like how the affair between Rhaenyra and Harwin was only implied, it was only implied that Rhaenyra’s children were sired by Ser Harwin. That’s because both Rhaenyra and Harwin often denied any rumors related to the paternity of the boys. No person in the series ever admitted that the children belonged to Harwin, as even Harwin himself denied it when he was confronted by his father, Lord Lyonel Strong.
The reason why both Rhaenyra and Harwin continued to deny the rumors was due to the fact that they were avoiding any personal attacks from the queen. Of course, Harwin’s life was also at risk. As Lyonel himself said, the only thing that was keeping Harwin from getting executed was King Viserys’s willful blindness towards the paternity of Rhaenyra’s children. Even Viserys knew that the children belonged to Harwin but opted to stay blind to the fact because he was never the type of king that wanted conflict.
Nevertheless, the series implied that the boys did indeed belong to Ser Harwin, who was affectionate towards the three children when he left King’s Landing to return to Harrenhal. He said his goodbyes in a way a father should, as he was always caring and protective of the boys. And when Jacaerys asked Rhaenyra whether or not Harwin was his father, all that the princess told him was that the important thing was that he was a Targaryen.
In that regard, the series opted to also take the implied approach in allowing us to understand that Ser Harwin was the father of Rhaenyra’s sons. The series never explicitly admitted the paternity of Rhaenyra’s children but only implied it in the most obvious way. This is consistent with the Fire & Blood book, which never said that Ser Harwin was the father of the “Strong boys,” as this was only a rumor that was never proven but was still quite obvious to anyone. As such, by taking this route, the series stays true to the source material.