House of the Dragon: Why Daemon Targaryen's Wife Is More Significant Than You Think

House of the Dragon has no problem quickly killing off characters that may have seemed like they could play larger roles in the story; in fact, in Episode 5 "We Light the Way" the show kills off a couple of characters we barely knew, but nonetheless held some pivotal positions in Westeros. One of those deaths was none other Lady Rhea Royce, the wife Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith). We only got a brief mention of Rhea before seeing her brutal demise, but House of the Dragon has made it pretty clear that the legacy of her character will loom over events to come. 

Who Plays Rhea Royce in House of the Dragon?

(Photo: HBO)

Actress Rachel Redford plays Rhea Royce in House of the Dragon. She has had previous roles in TV series Shadow and Bone and Gap year. 

Who Is Rhea Royce? 

In Game of Thrones lore, Rhea Royce was the Lady of Runestone, heir (and eventual head) of House Royce during the reign of King Viserys I Targaryen. House Royce was one of the oldest and most powerful ones of the Vale, sworn to House Arryn. Jaehaerys I's wife "Good Queen" Alysanne Targaryen arranged the marriage between her grandson Daemon and Lady Rhea, but (clearly) the union never took, and the two were estranged, which is where House of the Dragon picks up the story. 

 The Royce family and their home of Runestone are best remembered by Game of Thrones fans as the stronghold of the Vale that eventually moved to oppose Littlefiner's rule and install young Lord Robert Arryn as Lord Protector of the Vale.

Well, as with everything in the Game of Thornes Universe, there are already echoes of history circling the event of Rhea's murder at Daemon's hand. Like Littlefinger's murder of Lysa Arryn, Daemon killed Rhea as means of securing title and land he would otherwise never possess. However, as Daemon was reminded during the wedding feast for his niece Princess Rheanyra, The Vale will not soon forget the crime they all know Daemon committed – nor will they ignore his attempt to lay claim to their lands. 

(Photo: HBO)

Once again, House of the Dragon does an impeccable job of reflecting or representing the history of Game of Thrones, while also creating clear lines of echo between House of the Dragon and GoT. In that sense, House Royce remains a stalwart and noble part of Westeros, across the ages. 

House of the Dragon premieres new episodes Sunday nights on HBO and HBO Max.