Why did Daemon Targaryen kill his wife? In the very first episode of the fantasy series House of the Dragon, Daemon Targaryen – the rogue prince – bemoaned being married to his “bronze bitch”, Rhea Royce.
Rhea was the Lady of Runestone and the head of House Royce, a powerful and wealthy family based in the windswept Vale of Arryn. Daemon was no doubt married off to Rhea because her family had the potential to be a powerful ally, and because it got him far away from King’s Landing.
Daemon squandered any opportunity he had to make the Royce clan an ally, partly because he hated being away from Visery’s court and the delights of Flea Bottom’s brothers but also, presumably, because he saw the marriage as beneath his status as a “dragon”. Still, Daemon was married to Rhea for years, which makes his decision to suddenly murder her in House of the Dragon episode 5 a strange one. So why did Daemon Targaryen kill Rhea Royce? Well we’ve three theories on this.
Daemon Targaryen killed Rhea Royce to inherit her castle
They say that money is the root of all evil, and Daemon’s actions have been pretty evil. It’s possible then that Daemon murdered Rhea so he’d inherit Runestone and the wealth of House Royce.
Daemon taunts Rhea’s cousin with this during the wedding feast of Rhaenyra and Laenor, so it seems the most likely option. Taking Runestone as his own base would also give him somewhere to live after Viserys banished him from King’s landing after his alleged dalliance with the princess.
Still, there are a few holes in this theory. Rhea claims that the pair never consummated their marriage, something that would put Daemon’s inheritance at risk. Rhea doesn’t seem like the type of person to keep Daemon’s supposed impotence a secret either, which Daemon has to be aware of. This could mean he killed Rhea for another reason.
Daemon Targaryen killed Rhea Royce so he could remarry
This brings us to option 2, Daemon killed Rhea so he could remarry. In the second episode of this Game of Thrones spin-off TV series, we saw that Daemon had an appetite for polygamy, and he tried to marry his lover Mysaria. While he seems to have put aside his plans to live like Aegon the Conqueror with two wives, he might not be against remarrying.
We saw Daemon eyeing up Laena Velaryon at the royal wedding, so maybe Daemon’s realised that marriage has its benefits. He just doesn’t want to be part of the Royce family in the parochial Vale.
Perhaps then he dashed Rhea’s head against the rocks so he could seek a match more fitting for a prince of the land. But Daemon’s an egomaniac, and there’s only one person he’d see as a worthy bride.
Daemon Targaryen killed Rhea Royce so he could marry Rhaenyra
It’s feasible that upon hearing Rhaenyra was to marry, he decided to murder Rhea so he could wed her before Laenor. This plan seems slightly outrageous but let’s be honest, Daemon’s a wildcard who doesn’t always think through his plans.
We can totally see him killing Rhea so that he could lawfully marry his niece. Daemon and Rhaenyra have had a ‘complicated’ history, so it’s possible she’d say yes. At Rhaenyra’s wedding, she basically challenges her uncle to step up and claim her as his bride, but the usually bullish Daemon doesn’t seem to fancy his chances against the Kingsguard.
Still, this is a theory that only really makes sense on paper. We have a bonus fourth theory that’s the most likely option.
Daemon Targaryen killed Rhea Royce simply because he could
Honestly, Daemon’s just a massive dick who seems to like making people miserable. His most likely reason for killing Rhea then is probably a mixture of the above three reasons mixed with an innate malice that makes him do bad things. We know it’s not the most complex of answers, but Daemon’s not the most complex of Game of Thrones characters out there.
Hopefully that clears things up! If you want more from the brutal world of Westeros, here’s our guide to when House of the Dragon takes place.