As The White Princess begins, we see Elizabeth (Jodie Comer) mourning the death of husband. Out of the corner of her eye, she watches soldiers on horseback approaching Woodville Manor. She rushes inside and tells her mother, Elizabeth (Essie Davis). The girls rush to hide, while Queen Elizabeth orders her son, Richard (New Elliott), to escape to Tournai. She instructs him to find the boatman, Jan Warbecque, and pretend to be his son. Jasper (Vincent Regan) and Lord Strange (Nicholas Audsley) do Henry’s dirty work. They explain that Henry Tudor has ordered all traitors to be taken to London. Lord Strange announces that Henry is awaiting for the Earl of Warwick, Teddy (Rhys Connah). Henry (Jacob Collins-Levy) and Margaret (Michelle Fairley) arrive in London. Henry immediately orders all white linens to be burned and banned from England. He then heads to the king’s room and agrees to give his mother the Queen’s rooms.
Princess Elizabeth arrives in London, after learning she is expected to marry Henry. Richard is shown hiding in the attic, while Henry reunites with Jasper. Seconds later, Jasper is forced to bow to Lady Margaret. Jasper admits he never thought they would be here or that Henry would take the throne. Margaret makes it clear she knew the day would come. Princess Elizabeth meets with Teddy and his family. Queen Elizabeth speaks with a friend and sympathizer, Ned (Rollo Skinner). Elizabeth and the others learn that Henry intends to declare the House of York traitors and the Parliament has already agreed to it. Queen Elizabeth tells Eliza (Susie Trayling) that the Yorks should no tremble in fear. Lord Strange arrives and announces that they’ll soon appear in front of Henry. Meanwhile, the Queen and her family are led to shabby rooms. They’re told they’ll soon be assigned women and they’ll seen the King after he has finished with the traitors.
Once left alone, the Princess makes it clear she doesn’t want to marry Henry. The Queen reminds her that she knew she would be forced to marry the victor. Meanwhile, the King bans England from trading with Burgundy. Then, he asks about the York Princes. His mother makes it clear that both have been killed. Next, Henry meets with the Earl of Lincoln, John de la Pool (Oliver Hambrough). Henry explains that the York king declared the man to be his heir, before his death. The Earl of Lincoln agrees to drop that right and serve King Henry. The mother speaks up and lashes out at King Henry. She is subsequently taken away to be locked up in the tower. The Earl of Warwick, Teddy, is marched in front of the King. First, he declares he will be king one day. Then, he chants God save the King. Teddy is dismissed. After it all ends, Henry retreats and quickly ridicules the ideal of marrying Princess Elizabeth.
In the morning, Lizzie learns about her mother sending Richard to Tournai. Queen Elizabeth writes a letter, which she intends to sneak out of the castle. She manages to create a distraction and slip outside. She convinces Ned to deliver the letter for her. She also gives Ned her ring. When it is returned, she will know that a message has been received. When she returns, Queen Elizabeth runs into Lady Margaret. Margaret admits she believes it was God’s will to have her son become king. Elizabeth responds that God also put her daughter beside Henry. Next, Henry and his mother visit Lizzie and Cacily (Suki Waterhouse). Cecily is very obedient, while Lizzie is not. Nevertheless, Henry eventually forces both girls to dance for him. Afterwards, Henry meets with his comrades and expresses his desire to marry someone other than Lizzie. He is reminded that doing so would likely lead to the York uprising against him. Instead, he is told he can marry Lizzie and have a mistress on the side.
After the meeting ends, Margaret confronts her son. She lets him know that she prayed and now believes this is the sacrifice he must make. Next, Queen Elizabeth tells her daughter that Parliament has demanded Henry marry her. That night, Lizzie dines with Henry. She ridicules him and immediately gets under his skin. Henry drags her into his bedroom and prepares to rape her. Eventually, Lizzie succumbs and tells Henry to have at it. Henry makes it clear that he will only marry Lizzie, if she is fertile. Henry reveals he made it quick, since he was thinking of Cecily. This enrages Lizzie, who smacks him across the face. Then, she rushes back to her room and sulks. Maggie holds her hand and provides her with comfort. Lizzie tells her mother that she will not let Henry beat her. Later that night, Cecily visits Henry and apologizes for Lizzie. He tells her that she needs to be more loyal to her sister.
Jasper tells Margaret that Henry wishes to move forward with the coronation, so he can show everyone that he is king alone. She seems upset that he didn’t express his concerns to her. Then, Lady Margaret agrees that Henry will only marry should Lizzie get pregnant. Then, Margaret speaks with Lizzie. She praises her looks, before telling Lizzie that she was once in a similar situation. She explains that Lizzie will become the mother of the King of England. Henry heads to the coronation, while Lizzie and her family remain behind. Moments later, Queen Elizabeth’s ring is returned signaling a message from Ned. Lizzie tasks Maggie with collecting herbs for her. Elizabeth visits Ned and learns that Richard never arrived at Tournai. Ned also visited their home, but was unable to find the boy. He tells Elizabeth that Margaret ordered all of her boys to be killed. Henry receives the crown and takes the throne.
As she returns, Elizabeth catches Maggie with mandrake in her hands. She confronts her daughter. Lizzie admits she doesn’t want to have a baby with Henry. Lizzie learns about Richard. Elizabeth tries to convince her daughter to have the baby and use it against Henry. Next, Lizzie visits Henry and reveals she is pregnant. The celebrations begin. Lizzie demands an immediate wedding and also wants to choose her own dress. Margaret agrees to her demands. Seconds later, Elizabeth manages to snag a hair from Margaret. She uses it that night to cast a spell on her rival. Her spell causes Margaret to have a nightmare. She is reminded of Elizabeth’s boys and the bodies in the Tower. The next day, Margaret tells Henry that he must remove Lizzie from her mother. Before the wedding, Lizzie tells her family that Henry and Margaret are her enemies. She intends to fight them from within her marriage. She makes it clear she will have Henry Tudor killed one way or another.
Then, the wedding ceremony begins. After it ends, Henry and Lizzie go to bed together. Henry takes out his knife and slashes Lizzie’s ankle. Her blood spills onto the bed. He explains that he cannot allow his child to be a bastard. Margaret eavesdrops on the conversation.
The White Princess Review
The premiere episode of The White Princess was moderately good. I thought the acting was spot on, but Michelle Fairley was a little awkward at times. Some of her mannerisms resembled a court jester and were a little over the top. I suppose this could be contributed to her character’s maniacal obsession with religion. Otherwise, everyone else did great in their respective roles. Also, I am not a fan of the witchcraft.
Nevertheless, the episode established a good foundation for the rest of the series. Before long, the backstabbing and scheming will help to offset the somewhat slow pace. The episode deserves a 7 out of 10.