Rhaenyra Targaryen: Everything You Need To Know About Daenerys’ Ancestor

Rhaenyra Targaryen is going to be at the center of the 'Game of Thrones' prequel 'House of the Dragon.' Learn more about the character, her relationship to Daenerys, and more.

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Milly Alcock
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House of the Dragon premieres August 21 on HBO and will explore a key era of Targaryen history. The series takes place 200 years before the events of Game of Thrones. Who will sit on the Iron Throne is a driving force in House of the Dragon, just like it was on Game of Thrones.

Rhaenyra Targaryen will be a crucial figure in the world of House of the Dragon. Like Daenerys Targaryen, Rhaenyra faced obstacle after obstacle in the quest for the Iron Throne. HollywoodLife is answering all your burning questions about Rhaenyra.

Milly Alcock
Milly Alcock as young Rhaenyra. (HBO)

Who Is Rhaenyra Targaryen?

Rhaenyra is the daughter of King Viserys I Targaryen and his first wife, Aemma of House Arryn. Viserys had three children, but Rhaenyra is his only surviving child. He had two boys who were stillborn.

Given that Viserys has no male heirs, his plan is to have Rhaenyra be his heir, which will eventually make her the first woman to sit on the Iron Throne. Rhaenyra is named the Princess of Dragonstone and becomes known as the Realm’s Delight.

However, as House of the Dragon will show, Rhaenyra’s legitimacy as an heir comes into question. Many in King Viserys I’s circle believe that his brother, Daemon Targaryen, should be named his successor. Later, when King Viserys I and Alicent Hightower marry, she gives birth to a son, Aegon, and several other children.

The battle for succession eventually evolves into a Targaryen civil war with Rhaenyra and her half-brother Aegon fighting for the Iron Throne. This war is infamously known as the Dance of the Dragons.

Emmy D'Arcy
Emmy D’Arcy as adult Rhaenyra. (HBO)

Who Plays Rhaenyra Targaryen In House of the Dragon?

The young version of Rhaenyra Targaryen is played by Australian actress Milly Alcock. The adult version is played by Emma D’Arcy. The series will begin in Rhaenyra’s early years before jumping ahead in time to when she’s an adult.

“This is how you tell this story correctly. We’re telling a story of a generational war. We set everything up so by the time that first sword stroke falls, you understand all the players,” co-showrunner Ryan Condal told The Hollywood Reporter.

How Is Rhaenyra Related To Daenerys Targaryen?

Rhaenyra and Daenerys are distant relatives. Rhaenyra is Dany’s distant aunt There are several generations of Targaryens between them.

Emilia Clarke
Emilia Clarke as Daenerys Targaryen. (HBO)

Rhaenrya and Daenerys share several similarities. They both face challenges living in a male-dominated society, and they both persevere to be the first Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. Rhaenyra and Daenerys have an affinity for dragons as well. Daenerys rode Drogon, while Rhaenyra rode Syrax.

“She’s met with very similar challenges that Daenerys is also brought with, in not being viable in her claim to the throne and having other people constantly be like, “You’re not legitimate,” Milly told TVLine.

How Are Rhaenyra & Daemon Targaryen Related?

Daemon Targaryen, played by Matt Smith, is Rhaenyra’s uncle. Daemon is King Viserys I’s younger brother. Daemon and Viserys I had another brother, Aegon, who died in infancy. Daemon, Viserys I, and Aegon are the children of Prince Baelon Targaryen and Princess Alyssa Targaryen, siblings who married each other.

Matt Smith
Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen. (HBO)

Daemon is described by HBO as “a peerless warrior and dragonrider.” The character “possesses the true blood of the dragon. But it is said that whenever a Targaryen is born, the gods toss a coin in the air…” He is a skilled fighter and dragonrider, but he can also be dangerous.

“He’s sort of an outsider,” Matt told Rolling Stone UK. “He’s not black and white, there are shades of grey with him, which is what interested me about him. And his relationship with his brother is really interesting.”

Matt also noted in his interview with TVLine that, even though Daemon and Rhaenyra are pitted against each other, they’re “in quite similar positions. They’re both inheriting this sort of huge pressure. They’re both part of this pressurized, intense, focus within the family.”

Who Does Rhaenyra Targaryen Marry?

Rhaenyra’s first husband is Ser Laenor Velaryon. They have three sons together: Jacaeyrs, Lucerys, and Joffrey. When Laenor dies, Rhaenyra marries her uncle Daemon. Rhaenyra and Daemon have two children together: Aegon III and Viserys II. Both Aegon III and Viserys II eventually sit on the Iron Throne.