Episode three of Starz’ riveting period drama The White Princess begins with Lizzie (Jodie Comer) in pain and ready to give birth. King Henry (Jacob Collins-Levy) is busy organizing the diplomatic mission to Burgundy, with his decision on who to send being questioned. He sticks with his choice of Jasper Tudor (Vincent Regan) to lead the mission, despite the misgivings of others.
Lizzie’s being tended to by Maggie Plantagenet (Rebecca Benson) as Lizzie’s sister, Cecily (Suki Waterhouse), rushes to retrieve Lady Margaret (Michelle Fairley). Lizzie’s worried about the baby’s birth because of the curse and cries out for her mother to be brought to her, but no one obeys.
And now we see Lizzie’s mother, Dowager Queen Elizabeth (Essie Davis), penning a note to her sister-in-law begging for help. Elizabeth claims to have been kept from Lizzie for two months, blaming King Henry and his mother. She writes of how Lady Margaret murdered her sons and killed Richard. She tosses the note, which asks for Burgundy to wage war against King Henry, to the stable boy, Ned.
King Henry is elsewhere in the castle, worried that his son has not yet been born. Bishop Morton (Kenneth Cranham) reveals Elizabeth asked to be allowed to be with Lizzie, but he dismissed the request.
Jasper and his men prepare to sail to Burgundy to meet with the Duchess of Burgundy, the sister of King Richard III and King Edward IV.
Back with Lizzie, she’s being comforted but the baby is not coming. Lady Margaret tells her she must push harder, demanding she deliver the child. Lizzie is certain her baby will die but she pushes and screams, crying out in pain. Maggie can see the baby and encourages Lizzie to continue to push. The baby finally arrives and his little cries sound healthy. Lady Margaret immediately asks for the baby.
King Henry’s working out his frustration by sharpening his sword fighting skills. Lady Margaret rushes into the garden and tells him Prince Arthur has arrived. Henry runs to be with his newborn son and wife, while his mother yells after him he’s not supposed to see the child yet. Henry doesn’t listen.
Lizzie cradles her son and Maggie asks her what she meant about the curse. Lizzie declines to explain, suggesting she not think about it. King Henry arrives just then and he’s beaming. He can’t believe the baby has arrived and is perfect. Henry calls his wife radiant and asks to hold his son. Henry tells Lizzie he’s in her debt, and assures her he’ll send for her mother. Henry races from the room, setting off to command the bells to ring and the bonfires to be lit.
After Henry leaves, Lizzie assures Maggie she’ll ask for Teddy to be freed from the tower. “I have delivered on my bargain, now he must give something in return,” says Lizzie.
At the Palace of Mechelen in Burgundy, the Duchess (Joanne Whalley) has been brought the note written by Dowager Queen Elizabeth asking for war. She has also received the note from King Henry seeking peace. The Duchess tells Duchess Cecily (Caroline Goodall) she never responded when informed of Jasper Tudor and Lord Strange’s upcoming visit. Frances Lovell (Anthony Flanagan), who’s been hiding out since his attack on King Henry, hopes the Duchess will stand with Elizabeth. However, she takes offense that he’s trying to tell her what to do. She chides him on failing to assassinate the King and says for now she’ll be a thorn in King Henry’s side. If King Henry’s envoy arrives, the Duchess has decided she will not receive them.
The mood lightens as her stepdaughter Mary (Emmanuelle Bouaziz) joins the group, and after the Duchess leaves Mary speaks of how her stepmother hasn’t yet mourned the death of her brother. She’s kept hidden inside and is not dealing with the death. It’s decided without the Duchess’ approval that it’s time to be a York and take a stand.
Elizabeth is finally brought to see her daughter and grandson. Lizzie says the baby is an answer to her prayer, not Lady Margaret’s prayer, and Cecily chimes in to comment on how loud Lizzie screamed. Elizabeth sends her away and unaware Lady Margaret is eavesdropping, she warns Lizzie the child belongs to the throne. She also reminds Lizzie the red in the rose represents the blood shed by her family and Richard. Lizzie’s quick to reply, “Richard is gone. All that there is now is Arthur.”
Jasper Tudor and Lord Strange’s party arrive at the castle where they find the citizens of Burgundy outside enjoying musicians. They discuss who really holds the power in Burgundy while watching the Duchess, who has not greeted them, move through the crowd.
Lady Margaret suggests an immediate christening, but Henry wants to wait. Lady Margaret is of the opinion it’s best to do it now so everyone is aware he has an heir. She’s obviously shocked when Henry wants to consult with Lizzie before making a decision.
The Duchess of Burgundy peeks around a curtain as Mary and her husband, Archduke Maximilian of Austria, meet with Jasper Tudor and Lord Strange. Jasper is told the Duchess won’t meet with the man who beat her brother on Bosworth Field, and Jasper says he’s sorry for her loss. He asks for leave to stay until the Duchess has had sufficient time to grieve. (He’s attempting not to rush the meeting or to appear insensitive.)
Outside the castle, Mary asks Lord Strange if he’d like to play sword fighting with her children. Her young son, Philip, immediately hits Lord Strange on the shoulder.
Lizzie asks Henry why Arthur must be christened at Winchester since it’s so far away, and his answer is that he’s agreed her mother can come with him in her place. Henry unveils a “badge” for Arthur that’s a red and white rose, a sign of the merging of the houses. She asks again if he’ll release Teddy, begging that he’s terrified. Henry agrees only to consider it when he returns.
Lady Margaret arrives to pick up the baby, and Lizzie asks why the christening can’t be in London so that she may attend. An unsympathetic Lady Margaret reminds Lizzie she can’t return to court until the priest sanctifies her. Outside, the power struggle continues as Lady Margaret and Dowager Queen Elizabeth both want to be in charge of the baby.
The Duchess of Burgundy finally grants Jasper Tudor an audience. He delivers a gift from King Henry – a solid gold coin with the King’s image. Jasper reiterates the King wants peace with Burgundy, but the Duchess shows little regard for what Henry desires. He hasn’t lost anybody and knows nothing of politics. Jasper reminds her she attempted to hand over Henry to her brother to be executed, but that doesn’t earn Henry any sympathy. She’s lost too many people and Henry’s lost no one.
Meanwhile, Lizzie is yearning to be with her son. Maggie keeps her company and again brings up the curse. Lizzie finally gives in and tells her it was a curse against whoever killed her brother. The curse specified that person’s male line would die, which is why Lizzie was scared for her newborn son. By trying to convince Maggie no harm will come to Arthur, Lizzie’s also attempting to quell her own fears.
Arthur is christened, crying his way through the ceremony. While Arthur is christened, Lizzie is sanctified by a priest and she can finally leave her room. When the christening ceremony ends, Lady Margaret signals to Bishop Morton to command Dowager Queen Elizabeth to come with him.
Maggie and Lizzie visit Teddy (Rhys Connah) in the tower and he’s anxious to leave. They can’t let him out yet, but Maggie assures him he’ll be freed and they’ll live peacefully far away from King Henry.
A feast celebrates Arthur’s christening, however King Henry isn’t in the mood to celebrate. Lady Margaret informs him of Dowager Queen Elizabeth’s treachery and suggests he lock her away. Lady Margaret adds that Elizabeth has been telling York supporters she wants Edward (‘Teddy’) Plantagenet to sit on the throne.
Baby Arthur arrives back home and Lizzie rushes to the carriage to be reunited with her son. Cecily excitedly announces to her sister that she’s going to be married to John Welles, Lady Margaret’s half-brother. When Lizzie asks after her mother, Cecily suggests she ask her husband.
Lizzie catches up with Henry who tells her he’s locked her mother in the dungeon for plotting to kill him. Because of her plotting with Henry’s enemies, the King will no longer agree to free Teddy from the tower. Lizzie forbids Henry to keep Elizabeth in a dungeon, demanding she’s moved to an Abbey. He changes the subject and discusses her upcoming coronation.
Jasper Tudor watches as the children and Lord Strange play, and he apologizes again to the Duchess for any pain he’s caused. She informs him she knows about the birth of Arthur and after talk of future marriages and alliances with France that will put Burgundy at a disadvantage, the Duchess admits she does not like King Henry. However, she doesn’t like war, either. They discuss the Battle of Bosworth, with Jasper saying he’d give his life for King Henry, calling him loyal, brave, and strong. “Then he would make someone a very fine dog,” replies the Duchess of Burgundy. Jasper doesn’t give up, convinced they can forge a peace between enemies.
The scene shifts to Bermondsey Abbey in London with Bishop Morton telling Dowager Queen Elizabeth she’s been shown mercy by King Henry. Elizabeth and her youngest daughters will live at Bermondsey but they will not be allowed any visitors, including her daughter Lizzie.
Cecily continues to show she’s an irritating self-centered twit, going on about the ugly clothes Lizzie will wear as Queen. Maggie arrives with a drink for Lizzie, and Lizzie passes her a note to give to her mother at Bermondsey. Lizzie now believes her mother is their only hope of getting Teddy freed.
King Henry sends for Lizzie, asking if she’s thankful about the coronation. She replies that unless he frees her mother and Teddy, she can’t be thankful. She also wonders what her role will be, and Henry takes her question as a jibe at his knowledge of how to rule. King Henry admits he waits from sun up to sundown to be killed by someone who hates him, and he knows people smile at his face and conspire against him behind his back. Lizzie asks point blank why then did he want to become King, and he replies it’s what he’s been trained to do his entire life. He had no other choice. His mother believed he had a destiny, and his mother is actually the one who dreamed of power. He wonders what he would have become had his mother not set him on this path, and Lizzie understands. “That is what my life has been as well. A puppet for my mother’s own ambition,” reveals Lizzie. Lizzie only wanted to marry a man she loved, but her mother craved the throne for her.
Henry, speaking sincerely, addresses his wife who has tears in her eyes after realizing just how much they have in common. They open up their hearts to each other, with Henry admitting he hoped she would at least have a kindness toward him, a tenderness. Lizzie wonders if that would be enough for him, and Henry says he doesn’t know because he’s never had someone who longed to be with him and loved him for who he is. He acknowledges that she doesn’t love him, but asks that she not plot against him. Lizzie says nothing and Henry walks off, hurt she couldn’t promise even that.
Elizabeth, who’s been watching her daughters play in the limited time they have outside, receives a note tucked inside an apple. It was tossed to her from a young boy sitting high in a tree. The note from Lizzie informs her mother Teddy is still in the tower and she needs her mother’s guidance.
Lady Margaret approaches Lizzie while she’s holding Arthur, telling her that they’re now friends and joined together. “Any threat against Henry is a threat against our boy as well,” warns Lady Margaret.
The apple tree boy runs the reply back to Ned who delivers it to Lizzie. It’s not written down but instead recited. Dowager Queen Elizabeth advises Lizzie come to her at the Abbey and also write to the Duchess of Burgundy saying they must go to war. Elizabeth believes that if Lizzie, who is just minutes from being crowned Queen, writes to the Duchess, the Duchess will agree to going to war. Lizzie’s puzzled how this course of action would help either Teddy or Arthur.
Elizabeth of York is crowned Queen Elizabeth. The bells toll and the Dowager Queen listens to them from the Abbey.
King Henry and Queen Elizabeth are seated on their thrones and Henry asks if she feels different. Lizzie admits she feels as if she’s aged 1,000 years. He laughs and Lizzie feels better when Arthur’s brought to her. When Henry wonders how Arthur will feel when he’s King, if Henry’s enemies allow him to live, Lizzie tells her husband not to say such things.
Lizzie returns to her room and Maggie asks if she’s decided if she’ll try to go to her mother. Lizzie is considering it, but Maggie doesn’t want her to go. She believes Lizzie should earn Henry’s trust and maybe he’ll want to make her happy. Lizzie doesn’t know how she’d be able to choose between Arthur and her mother, and Maggie continues to urge her not to go.
Meanwhile in Burgundy, Jasper Tudor and Lord Strange continue their diplomatic mission. Lord Strange has been losing to the children in a variety of games (he claims he’s losing on purpose), and Mary suggests they have a race. Mary’s an expert rider so it should be yet another loss for Lord Strange.
The Duchess appears to be softening her stance toward Jasper Tudor. They take a walk and discuss what life would have been like for Jasper if he hadn’t gone to war. He confesses he was in love with a woman, but it wasn’t meant to be. The Duchess is pleasantly surprised by that answer.
Mary and Lord Strange race on horseback while the Duchess and Jasper talk, and now the Duchess is actually flirting with this man who represents her enemy.
Dowager Queen Elizabeth is beginning to realize Lizzie won’t be coming to her. Alone, she rails against those who have taken Cecily and now Lizzie from her, saying she won’t have it. As Elizabeth says, “Damn them all to hell,” while toppling a statue of the Virgin Mary, hundreds of miles away Mary of Burgundy falls from her horse. Everyone races to her side and it’s obvious she’s grievously injured.
Lizzie lies in bed, staring at the ceiling, decision made.
Duchess Cecily delivers the news to the Duchess of Burgundy that Mary’s back was broken in the fall. The Duchess and Mary’s husband hold Mary’s hand as she passes away.
Lizzie joins Henry in his bed. She touches him and he rolls over, just inches from her face. Lizzie closes her eyes and Henry’s now wide awake, obviously moved by this turn of events.
Mary’s body is laid out and Jasper tells the Duchess he’s sorry for her loss. Mary’s death has changed the Duchess and she kicks Jasper out, telling him he’s not welcome in Burgundy.
More on The White Princess:
– The White Princess Episode 2 Hearts and Minds Recap
– The White Princess Episode 4 The Pretender Recap
– The White Princess Episode 5 Traitors Recap