The United States's first major-party female presidential candidate may have just accepted defeat, but TV's latest offerings are providing a much-needed escape to worlds where women rule. Joining The Crown and Victoria in a newfound tradition of badass, well-dressed queens, The White Princess offers a lens into the world of Henry VII (father of Henry VIII) through the eyes of the powerful—and power-hungry—women who surrounded him.
The eight-episode miniseries begins in the aftermath of the 1485 battle of Bosworth—the final conflict in England's bloody War of the Roses, on which Game of Thrones is based—where Henry Tudor (newcomer Jacob Collins-Levy) unexpectedly defeated King Richard III to become King Henry VII. Elizabeth of York (Jodie Comer), the niece and former lover (yup) of Richard, is forced to marry Henry to unite their warring families, but the two can barely contain their disdain for one another. Newly-crowned Queen of England (she's the thirteenth great-grandmother of Queen Elizabeth II), Elizabeth finds herself torn between loyalty to her blood relatives, placating her husband and his icy mother (Game of Thrones' Michelle Fairley) and establishing herself as a key player within the court's intricate politics.
"This is a marriage that has the highest stakes you can possibly imagine," says showrunner and writer Emma Frost. "Its success or failure will determine the future of the whole country—whether it falls back into war and bloodshed or whether it's able to maintain this very uneasy peace."
Frost adapted The White Princess from Philippa Gregory's historical novel of the same name, as well as its predecessor, The White Queen, about the events prior to the battle of Bosworth, for a 2013 BBC/Starz production. "This is much deeper psychologically," says Frost of Princess. "There is more time and space to dig into character. The politics in this really do matter and add more complexity to the intrigues and people."
As for the series's arrival during a time of great political turmoil in the real world, Frost notes, "It's never been more timely for a show about powerful women carving out their own destinies." Get an exclusive first look at seven brand-new portraits of the show's central characters below, then tune into The White Princess when it premieres in April on Starz.
From: Harper's Bazaar
Elizabeth of York and Henry VII
Jodie Comer as Elizabeth of York and Jacob Collins-Levy as Henry VII
"It's the story of a marriage," says Frost. "It's a story of a relationship between Lizzie and Henry and through that
The White Princess
Jodie Comer as Elizabeth of York
"Lizzie is the princess of the still-popular House of York and beloved in her own right. In Henry and Lizzie's marriage, the warring houses are finally joined and the civil war that has plagued England for decades—The War of the Roses—is hopefully at an end."
The Women of York
"Lizzie and her mother hate Henry because they believe Henry's mother, Margaret Beaufort, murdered Lizzie's brothers, one of whom was the heir to the throne. They have a huge, painful hatred of and grudge against Margaret, which makes them predisposed to loathe Henry Tudor too— they do not believe his claim to the throne to be legitimate, as it was wrongfully gained through child murder."
From left: Jodie Comer as Elizabeth of York, Rebecca Benson as Margaret Plantagenet, Essie Davis as Dowager Queen Elizabeth and Suki Waterhouse as Cecily of York
Jacob Collins-Levy as Henry VII and Michelle Fairley as Margaret Beaufort
"Henry is an outsider who nobody in a million years thought would become the king."
The United Family
From left: Jodie Comer as Elizabeth of York, Essie Davis as Dowager Queen Elizabeth, Jacob Collins-Levy as Henry VII and Michelle Fairley as Margaret Beaufort
"I love the battle between Margaret Beaufort and Elizabeth Woodville," says Frost. "The clash of those two titans is electric every time they're on screen together."
The Women in Charge
From left: Rebecca Benson as Margaret Plantagenet, Suki Waterhouse as Cecily of York, Jodie Comer as Elizabeth of York, Joanne Whalley as the Duchess of Burgundy, Essie Davis as Dowager Queen Elizabeth and Michelle Fairley as Margaret Beaufort
"The battle begins between Lizzie and Margaret Beaufort for who will control Henry. He is the only means by which each or either of these women can wield power."
A United Front
From left: Suki Waterhouse as Cecily of York, Rebecca Benson as Margaret Plantagenet and Jodie Comer as Elizabeth of York
"They are not victims. They are fighting for their own lives and for what they believe in."