Love, loss, loyalty, and betrayal are key themes running through Starz’s The Spanish Princess season two episode one. We pick up the story of Catherine of Aragon (Charlotte Hope) and King Henry VIII (Ruairi O’Connor) with crowns – and their country’s future – resting on their heads. Their coronation is just a fond memory as Queen Catherine gently smiles while handling the crown she wore that pivotal day. She’s currently in the middle of deciding which crown to wear when her father arrives for a visit. Catherine settles on “the most precious one.”
As she’s walking the darkened hallways, two men take hold of her arms. Although she demands to be let go, they continue holding their Queen until she’s delivered to her mask-wearing husband. She unsheathes a knife and claims to be outraged, but it’s all just a flirtatious game. Henry believes his gorgeous wife has been away from his side for too long while preparing for her father’s arrival.
The Royal couple appear to be genuinely in love and very much sexually attracted to one another.
The following day Lina (Stephanie Levi-John) helps Catherine dress to receive her father, the King of Spain. Catherine’s determined to convince him to join England’s war against France. The talk of war is momentarily pushed aside as Maggie Pole (Laura Carmichael) arrives with Catherine’s baby boy, Henry.
Catherine coos at her handsome baby prince and delivers a kiss to his forehead.
All those who matter have gathered for the King of Spain’s reception. Princess Mary (Sai Bennett) gossips to her close friend, Ursula Pole (Amelia Gething), that Catherine’s father is only King because he had Catherine’s sister locked away in a madhouse. Ursula reminds Princess Mary she’ll soon be wearing that Spanish crown.
Princess Mary gets her first look at the man she’s betrothed to, King Ferdinand’s heir and grandson – Charles of Burgundy. Mary welcomes them to court as King Ferdinand asks about the whereabouts of his daughter.
At that moment Queen Catherine is handing their son to King Henry just before entering the reception to the sound of trumpets. Henry hoists Henry IX over his head and proudly declares, “Behold the future King of England.”
The crowd delivers a hearty round of applause as Queen Catherine welcomes her father and nephew to England. King Ferdinand kisses the King and Queen of England on the lips, and King Henry appears a bit taken aback by this greeting. Henry immediately expresses his hope that together England and Spain will unite in war against France.
After welcoming King Ferdinand to Camelot, Henry quietly acknowledges to Catherine her father’s shorter than he imagined. Catherine tells her husband she believes her father feels challenged by him. She advises Henry to take that as a compliment.
Princess Mary flirts with her soon-to-be husband, asking if they will rule Spain together like Catherine and Henry rule England. Charles appears quite taken with her beauty and promises her they will, if that’s what she desires.
As the besotted Charles hustles away to fetch Mary more wine, Thomas More (Andrew Buchan) is assured by Charlie Brandon (Jordan Renzo) that Princess Mary may act giddy, but she can play that particular role in seven languages.
Thomas More, the newly appointed undersheriff to the King, and Maggie Pole introduce themselves, and Maggie reveals she knows of his reputation. He confirms it’s true he nearly entered a religious order but ultimately determined it wasn’t his calling.
Princess Mary wishes her sister Meg could be with them for this reception, but Charlie is certain Meg’s having a wonderful time with her dashing Scottish King.
That couldn’t be further from the truth as the action shifts to Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh. Meg Tudor, Queen of Scots is shown attempting to get rowdy children under control at the dinner table. Food is being thrown as King James (Ray Stevenson) arrives at the castle. He’s proud his son is out of control, but Meg (Georgie Henley) isn’t impressed with this behavior.
Meg reminds James that only two of the children at the table are hers while the rest are his. She expresses her desire to have more to do than just sit at home with the children. Meg wants to be more like Queen Catherine and engage in helping to run the country.
King James suggests she stick to what she’s good at.
Back in England, King Ferdinand reminds his daughter of how harshly the English treated her in the past. She claims that was orchestrated by Lady Margaret and now everything has been smoothed over. Henry joins them and Catherine once again reiterates how important it is for England and Spain to unite to defeat France.
King Ferdinand isn’t convinced King Henry’s desire to crush France has anything to do with defending the Pope. He believes it might be more about winning back land France took from England. King Ferdinand challenges King Henry’s ability to lead a war and Catherine defends her husband.
King Ferdinand says it’s about the quality of the “man within the metal.” King Henry promises to show off the men and their new armor via a joust. Ferdinand only chuckles in response.
Once Henry leaves, Ferdinand wants to know who Catherine sides with – England or Spain? She claims she’s loyal to both.
Later that evening, Lina arrives home and is surprised Oviedo (Aaron Cobham) has returned from the front line. She assures him that if King Ferdinand agrees to join the fight, he will finally have his war. Their serious discussion ends, and gentle, passionate lovemaking commences.
King Henry and Queen Catherine enter the field to cheers from the adoring crowd, hands raised as the joust prepares to get underway. Even Catherine’s father appears to be in better spirits as Henry once again lifts his young son and heir skyward.
After a brief kiss, Henry leaves to prepare for his joust.
In the stands, Thomas More greets Maggie Pole and introduces his wife and daughters. Maggie watches as Thomas is able to get her young, uncommunicative son Reggie to acknowledge the monks gave him the book he’s reading. Thomas says being with the silent order of monks at a young age can take its toll, and Maggie asks if Thomas would mind instructing her son. He’s the only one who seems to be able to reach him. Thomas agrees, labeling it an honor.
The King’s groom, William Compton, asks Maggie if he may wear her colors while he rides. She’s about to decline when her son Henry answers for her, tossing down her kerchief.
Henry then asks Charlie Brandon if he can assist King Henry as a squire. The King already has a squire but Charlie agrees he can serve King Henry ale.
King Henry raises the glass and then salutes Catherine in the stands. He mounts his horse and fastens his helmet as he gets into position. The joist begins and Henry unseats his opponent, Edward Stafford (Olly Rix). Henry rushes to his side as Edward thrashes around the ground. His eye dangles from its socket and Edward grabs it and screams in pain as he rips it off and tosses it to the ground.
The color drains from King Henry’s face as Queen Catherine quickly tends to Edward’s injury.
Edward makes it to his feet and announces to the crowd that King Henry is unharmed. Catherine also addresses the crowd. “And yet behold Lord Stafford, born with English steel in his bones,” says the Queen, adding, “God save the King.”
King Henry helps Edward from the field as the crowd’s chant of God save the King shifts to God save the Queen.
A short while later, King Ferdinand agrees to join England’s war with France. He wants King Henry to consult Catherine on all matters pertaining to their treaty.
King Ferdinand returns to Spain.
Catherine joins the men to discuss plans for attacking the French. She explains her father wants English troops to sail to San Sebastián where they’ll be joined by Spain’s troops. An argument ensues because there’s no legitimate reason for English soldiers to head to Spain when their target is France. King Henry sides with Catherine, explaining the people of Aquitaine want to shake off their French rule and yearn to be under English rule once again.
Queen Catherine is certain her father’s army will head north to meet them. She assures the council her father will want to put on a “grand display of military power” as they march into France.
Later, Queen Catherine finds Henry spending time holding their young son. He’s proud Catherine feeds their son herself rather than use a wet nurse. When he admits she’s given him so much, she says she’s given him a new Spanish army to play with. Catherine confirms she’s doing it all for him – for England and their Camelot.
Edward Stafford, now sporting an eye patch, leads the army as they leave for Spain.
Over in Scotland, Queen Meg interrupts a meeting of the clans led by King James. They’re unhappy to see her and show her no respect. She asks King James to discipline the nobles who insulted her, suggesting they be drawn and quartered. King James makes light of the situation, saying she’s managed to unite the clans over their shared contempt for the English.
The men laugh but Meg is furious. She punches King James in the face, instantly quieting the rowdy group. King James opts to make a joke about the jab, and the men begin laughing once again.
Weeks pass and the Spanish army never materializes at San Sebastián. Oviedo writes home to Lina to tell her of their plight. Men are deserting and he questions the whereabouts of King Ferdinand and his army.
Lina takes the letter to the Queen and Catherine claims her father says they’ve been delayed by bad weather. Catherine promises her father and the Spanish army will reach them soon now that the ground is drying up.
Lina writes back to be patient and wait for better weather. She also shares the news that she’s pregnant.
Maggie and her children are finishing up their prayers in church when Catherine arrives. She gives Maggie a black stone as well as a white stone on the anniversary of Richard’s death. The black stone is for sorrow; the white stone is for healing. Catherine instructs her to pray while holding both stones.
Days later a letter arrives from King Ferdinand and Catherine immediately races off to inform Henry of its contents. Her father lied and he’s not heading to San Sebastián. Instead, he went south to reclaim his own lands from France.
He betrayed England and used the English troops as a decoy. Catherine’s devastated and humiliated, blaming herself for believing anything he said.
King Henry and Queen Catherine address the council, acknowledging they’ve wasted money and lives have been lost from hunger and disease. The council assures Catherine she shouldn’t blame herself. She does anyway, angry she ever trusted her lying father.
Henry charges off, upset over this turn of events. Catherine’s advised she must radiate her light and confidence, while Henry must be a man and a King for England.
In a tense conversation with Lina, Catherine’s assured she’s better than her father. Lina claims Catherine has a good heart and this storm will pass.
Catherine then visits Henry’s chambers and asks if she can share his bed. He declines the offer.
England’s soldiers return home and King Henry addresses them, apologizing for what they just endured. Queen Catherine interjects that King Ferdinand betrayed them all, herself included. King Henry continues speaking and recognizes Captain Oviedo for helping to maintain morale. He has Queen Catherine award Oviedo the title of knight banneret, and she does so with England’s gratitude.
King Henry barely acknowledges Catherine as he finishes up and announces he’s going hunting.
Catherine tends to her teething, fussy baby. She tries to comfort him and together they enter the church. She wants God to forgive her pride.
Catherine lays baby Henry down on the floor as she kneels in prayer. She confesses she was tempted by vanity. Henry has stopped crying as she asks God to heal King Henry’s heart.
Catherine breaks off from her prayers when she realizes baby Henry has died.
Later while in bed, crying, Maggie joins her. She places the black and white stones in Catherine’s hand as Catherine sobs uncontrollably.
Banners and flags of mourning adorn the castle.
Days pass and finally King Henry enters Catherine’s bedchamber. She’s been torn apart by this sudden death and is deeply depressed. Catherine wonders if little Henry will have enough swaddling to keep him warm underground.
Henry says, “My love…my poor sweet love.”
Catherine asks if this is punishment, but Henry doesn’t know why they would be punished. He tells his devastated wife he loves her and assures her they will have another child. Their next son will be strong because they are strong.
Catherine’s nearly frantic as she repeatedly tells her husband she can not lose him. The couple make love, desperate to reestablish their connection.
In Scotland, Meg cries over the news and King James attempts to console her. He asks if she wants to pay Catherine a visit, but she’s determined to grieve in private in Scotland. King James believes she will win the hearts of the Scottish soon.
Catherine’s still in mourning when a letter from her father arrives. He warns her to be proud and brave, not bitter like the English.
Catherine tells Henry they were strong enough to build this Camelot; they will become even stronger to keep it.
Everyone gathers for a speech but instead of King Henry, it’s Catherine who steps forward and speaks. She shares their pain, acknowledges she caused it, but says now their innocence is lost. New wisdom has been forged in pain, grief, and sadness. She believes they lost their dignity to Spain but now they will stand strong against this betrayal by their ally.
Catherine wants all of England to know she is reborn and she is English. She leads the chant of “God save the King.” Oviedo speaks from the audience and says, “God save Queen Catherine of England.”
She speaks directly to King Henry and says they will go to war with France – without Spain. She promises her people she will also give them a new heir.
- The Spanish Princess Episode 1 “The New World” Recap
- The Spanish Princess Episode 2 “Fever Dream” Recap
- The Spanish Princess Episode 5 “Heart Versus Duty” Recap
- The Spanish Princess Episode 6 “A Polite Kidnapping” Recap
- The Spanish Princess Episode 7 “All is Lost” Recap
- The Spanish Princess Episode 8 “Destiny” Recap
- The Spanish Princess Season 2 Episode 2 “Flodden” Recap