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‘Game of Thrones’ prequel ‘House of the Dragon’: Why is Rhaenyra the only surviving heir to Iron Throne?

The real story of the circumstances under which Princess Rhaenyra became the only alive inheritor of King Viserys I Targaryen is not much known
Rhaenyra is announced as the next potential ruler to Iron Throne of Westeros by her father Viserys I Targaryen (HBO)
Rhaenyra is announced as the next potential ruler to Iron Throne of Westeros by her father Viserys I Targaryen (HBO)

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA: We got a detailed insight into the world of Westeros, ruled by House Targaryen and their dragons, in the first episode of GoT prequel ‘House of the Dragon’. The pilot episode which aired on August 21, on both HBO and HBO Max, ended up smashing previous records of many iconic shows. But the real story of the circumstances under which Princess Rhaenyra (Milly Alcock/Emma D’Arcy) became the only alive inheritor of King Viserys I Targaryen (Paddy Considine) is not much known.

Ahead of the second episode premiere this weekend, we take a glance at the reasons why Princess Rhaenyra not only becomes the only Dragonstone heir to her father but is also the potential successor for the Iron Throne of Westeros as announced by the king in the first episode.

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Rhaenyra's birth

Queen Aemma (Sian Brooke) is originally from House Arryn. Just like other inter-family marriages that are a common practice of House Targaryen in the prequel, she got married with her cousin Prince Viserys I Targaryen. She and Viserys have a daughter named Rhaenyra.

Aemma’s five failed attempts in ten years for a male heir

After giving birth to a healthy daughter, Queen Aemma went on to have one child who died in the cradle. She also had two stillbirths and two miscarriages. Things didn’t work out well for the Queen as there had been five failed attempts in ten years at producing a healthy male heir for her husband, King Viserys I Targaryen. Aemma felt that it was her duty as a queen to keep trying for a male heir. This resulted in her being pregnant for a seventh time with a child. But this time, Viserys was convinced by a prophetic dream that this would be his next male successor.

Aemma’s seventh painful pregnancy and cesarean surgery

In the episode, we see how Viserys is convinced this pregnancy will finally result in a healthy son. Aemma lovingly tells him that if this pregnancy does not succeed she doesn't want to try again. In midst of the Heir’s Tournament, the king is informed that Aemma’s condition is worsening. They have only two choices - save the son or save Aemma.

Distraught and horrified, Viserys hesitantly tells them to try save his potential son. Viserys holds Aemma's hand and tells her that he loves her. He doesn’t inform Aemma of the soon to be performed caesarean section surgery. He only reveals that they're going to take their son out of her stomach. When the midwives pull Aemma down on the bed and she sees Mellos holding a scalpel, she finally realizes what is happening. Aemma screams and pleads them to not do it and tries to struggle free from the hold. Unfortunately no one listens to her and even the midwives pin her arms and legs down. Aemma wildly howls in pain as Mellos makes the first incision in her stomach. She ends up losing consciousness from shock.

Announcement of Rhaenyra as King Viserys I Targaryen’s successor to Iron Throne

Aemma finally ends up dying and the king is devastated. Mellos informs all that the child is alive and is a boy. They name him Baelon Targaryen. But sadly, even the son dies within a couple of hours. This makes Rhaenyra very upset and angry with her father. She mentions to her uncle Daemon (Matt Smith) how the demand for a male heir killed her mother and brother. Later on, after many failed attempts, the hand of king Ser Otto Hightower (Rhys Ifans) is seen talking to King Viserys I Targaryen. He suggests that instead of Daemon, the king should officially announce that Rhaenyra is the next potential successor to the Iron Throne of Westeros. Feeling convinced and breaking an archaic custom, the king reveals that his only daughter Rhaenyra Targaryen is the next successor and potential queen to Iron Throne of Westeros.