The United States’s first major-party female presidential candidate may have just accepted defeat, but TV’s latest offerings are providing a much-needed escape to worlds where women rule. Joining The Crown and Victoria in a newfound tradition of badass, well-dressed queens, The White Princess offers a lens into the world of Henry VII (father of Henry VIII) through the eyes of the powerful—and power-hungry—women who surrounded him.
The eight-episode miniseries begins in the aftermath of the 1485 battle of Bosworth—the final conflict in England’s bloody War of the Roses, on which Game of Thrones is based—where Henry Tudor (newcomer Jacob Collins-Levy) unexpectedly defeated King Richard III to become King Henry VII. Elizabeth of York (Jodie Comer), the niece and former lover (yup) of Richard, is forced to marry Henry to unite their warring families, but the two can barely contain their disdain for one another. Newly-crowned Queen of England (she’s the thirteenth great-grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II), Elizabeth finds herself torn between loyalty to her blood relatives, placating her husband and his icy mother (Game of Thrones’ Michelle Fairley) and establishing herself as a key player within the court’s intricate politics.
“This is a marriage that has the highest stakes you can possibly imagine,” says showrunner and writer Emma Frost. “Its success or failure will determine the future of the whole country—whether it falls back into war and bloodshed or whether it’s able to maintain this very uneasy peace.”
Frost adapted The White Princess from Philippa Gregory’s historical novel of the same name, as well as its predecessor, The White Queen, about the events prior to the battle of Bosworth, for a 2013 BBC/Starz production. “This is much deeper psychologically,” says Frost of Princess. “There is more time and space to dig into character. The politics in this really do matter and add more complexity to the intrigues and people.”
As for the series’s arrival during a time of great political turmoil in the real world, Frost notes, “It’s never been more timely for a show about powerful women carving out their own destinies.” Get an exclusive first look at seven brand-new portraits of the show’s central characters below, then tune into The White Princess when it premieres in April on Starz.
From Harper’s Bazaar