A new generation of wicked-smart, scheming women manipulate the English throne in Starz’s eight-episode limited series The White Princess. The series is a follow-up to 2013’s The White Queen — both based on Philippa Gregory’s historical fiction novels of the same names — which follows the political and emotionally turbulent times of 15th-century British history over who is the rightful king … according to the ladies’ vantage point.
In this complex monarchal world way too full of Richards, Edwards, Henrys and Elizabeths, there is a battle between two sides of the same family — the House of Lancaster and the House of York. Creator/showrunner Emma Frost exquisitely begins this second story three days after the Battle of Bosworth, where King Richard III (the last York king) was defeated and killed on the battlefield, making Henry Tudor (a.k.a. Henry VII from the House of Tudor, a legitimized branch of House Lancaster) the newly anointed king.
But here’s the real problem: Princess Elizabeth of York (Jodie Comer, BBC America’s Thirteen) was promised in marriage to the victor of the war by her mother, Dowager Queen Elizabeth Woodville (Essie Davis).
Neither Princess “Lizzie” nor Henry Tudor (newcomer Jacob Collins-Levy) desire to be wed, as Lizzie was in love with Richard (even bedding him the night prior to the battle), and Henry, well, he just isn’t interested in this whore from a rival family. England, however, needs them to unite and bring an end to the warring.
“The politics of the whole country are told through the lens of that marriage,” Frost explains. “The sacrifice the two of them make is to give peace to England by marrying someone they absolutely hate, so the war is now moved into this very personal relationship and into this marriage.”
Game of Thrones fans will be thrilled to see Catelyn Stark (Michelle Fairley) as the Machiavellian Lady Margaret Beaufort, King Henry’s calculating mother and chief political adviser.
While Lizzie struggles to live among her enemies, she becomes more enmeshed with the Tudors, which is ultimately of great cost to both her and her York family.
“These women are driving their own destinies in the face of real challenges because they’re in a world where they don’t have obvious power as women, but somehow they are finding ways to own their lives, pull the strings, and the stakes are life and death,” Frost says.
The White Princess > Starz > Sundays, 8PM ET beginning April 16