While episode 9 of House of the Dragon revolved more around the Greens, we did see an incredible moment from one of the best characters in the series in the form of Princess Rhaenys Targaryen, as she had the last in the entire episode when she had the Greens at the brink of death. Of course, we all know that prior to that, Alicent told her that she should have been the queen, as she was always known as the Queen Who Never Was. In that regard, why was Rhaenys known as the Queen Who Never Was?
Princess Rhaenys is known as the Queen Who Never Was because she was the only other Targaryen that had a claim to the Iron Throne when the Great Council chose who should succeed King Jaehaerys. However, it was Viserys who was chosen by the Great Council to rule the Seven Kingdoms.
The fact that Rhaenys had a great claim to the Iron Throne and quite possibly a better claim than even Viserys himself is the reason why she is often seen as the Queen Who Never Was, as she could have been the next ruler had she been chosen. That’s why she sympathizes with Rhaenyra, who was the rightful heir to the Iron Throne. Now, let’s look at Rhaenys’s history.
Why Was Rhaenys The Queen That Never Was?
Episode 9 of House of the Dragon allowed us to see the side of the Greens in the event that will eventually allow the Targaryen civil war to erupt. In that regard, the highlight of this episode was the Green faction that was led by Queen Alicent Hightower, who wanted to install Prince Aegon on the Iron Throne. However, during the entire episode, the Greens were also trying to gain the support of many different lords and landed knights that had previously sworn their allegiance to Princess Rhaenyra.
But instead of bringing Princess Rhaenys Targaryen in front of Otto Hightower to swear her allegiance to the next king, she was locked up in her room in King’s Landing. The one that tried to reason with her was Alicent. And it was important for the Greens to gain the support of Rhaenys because she was the de facto leader of House Velaryon in the absence of her husband, Corlys.
In that scene, Alicent tried to reason with her by appealing to her emotions and by making her see that siding with the Greens was going to be beneficial to her family, as she had never gotten anything out of supporting Rhaenyra and Daemon throughout all of the years that she sided with them. Alicent even said that Rhaenys should have been the queen of the Seven Kingdoms before that right was taken away from her nearly 30 years ago. We often hear a lot of people calling Rhaenys the Queen Who Never Was because of this. So, why is Rhaenys called the Queen Who Never Was?
Back in the final years of King Jaehaerys’s rule as the Lord of the Seven Kingdoms, he didn’t have a clear heir because all of his children had already died before they could ascend the Iron Throne. Because there were several Targaryens that believed that they had a right to sit on the Iron Throne, a Great Council was called to determine the new heir.
In that Great Council, all of the lords and ladies of the Seven Kingdoms were called to choose who they wanted to rule them next. While there were plenty of different Targaryens that believed that they had a claim to the Iron Throne, the contenders boiled down to two finalists: Prince Viserys and Princess Rhaenys.
However, in the end, Prince Viserys was chosen as the heir of King Jaehaerys in what was a landslide victory for him. That is why Rhaenyra is often called the Queen Who Never Was because she had a really good claim to the Iron Throne but was never chosen to lead the Seven Kingdoms due to the fact that she was a woman.
Meanwhile, in the book, Rhaenys is still called the Queen Who Never Was but wasn’t the one who was vying for the Iron Throne. Instead, she was lobbying for Laenor to be Jaehaerys’s heir. However, Viserys was still the one who was chosen to succeed the Old King.
The fact that Rhaenys wasn’t chosen by the lords and ladies of the Seven Kingdoms in House of the Dragon is one of the reasons why Otto Hightower believes that the realm wasn’t ready for a woman to sit on the Iron Throne. This also explains why Otto is so adamant about putting Aegon on the throne, as he believed that the Seven Kingdoms would tear itself apart if ever a woman were to become the ruler.
Did Rhaenys Have A Better Claim Than Viserys?
As mentioned, Alicent told Rhaenys that she should have been queen over Viserys, who she said should have just been a country lord that could have spent his entire life reading and hunting. The queen said that Rhaenys had both the bloodline and the temperament to rule the Seven Kingdoms in a way that Viserys wasn’t able to do. So, did Rhaenys really have a better claim than Viserys?
Rhaenys’s claim to the Iron Throne stemmed from the fact that she was the only child of Prince Aemon, who was Jaehaerys’s eldest son and heir. However, Aemon died before he could ascend to the Iron Throne, as the role of the heir was passed down to Baelon, who is Viserys’s father. As such, instead of passing the title of heir to Rhaenys, it was given to Jaehaerys’s second son.
Like Aemon, Baelon died before he could even ascend to the Iron Throne. This was where the confusion lay, as there were two Targaryens who had a good claim to the Iron Throne. And Rhaenys’s claim relied on the fact that she was the heir of the first heir, as opposed to Viserys, who was the first heir of the second heir.
In that regard, it is quite possible that Rhaenys did indeed have a better claim to the Iron Throne compared to Viserys. But because Jaehaerys didn’t want to choose who he wanted to succeed him because he was probably afraid of the consequences of choosing Rhaenys over Viserys, that was when the Great Council was called. And the rest is history, as the Great Council chose Viserys to become the next king.