Why does Alicent Hightower hate Rhaenyra so much? The fantasy series House of the Dragon is digging into the history of the Targaryen civil war, and we’re learning a lot about what caused this great tragedy. Specifically, it seems to boil down to Queen Alicent and Princess Rhaenyra absolutely despising each other.
But why does Alicent hate Rhaenyra Targaryen so much? The pair were close friends as children, and even when Alicent married her friend’s father (a bit weird, but these are Game of Thrones characters we’re talking about), they remained cordial. Alicent even defended the princess from her father, Otto Hightower, when he claimed Rhaenyra had slept with Daemon Targaryen.
Now they’re adults, though, their dislike is palpable, and they can barely stand to be in the same room. So what happened? The pair’s dislike can be traced back to an incident involving Ser Criston Cole.
Why does Alicent hate Rhaenyra so much?
Alicent hates Rhaenyra because she’s in love with Criston Cole and believes the princess betrayed her by having an affair with him. This has never been explicitly stated on the show but was confirmed by Emily Carey, who played the younger Queen Alicent.
“She goes through so many emotions in one go, a concoction cocktail of all of these feelings,” Carey told Variety. “It’s the betrayal of, ‘Hold on. You slept with him, and I’m in love with him, and you know this. That’s not fair.’ Alicent is all about duty, through and through. It’s always duty versus heart with her… I’m glad I got to show how she became this angry woman. And I think that scene is such a turning point.”
“There’s the betrayal of, ‘You lied to me.’ Then the betrayal of, ‘I swear this upon the memory of my mother,’ which is what you see in episode two with their shared trauma,” she continued. “It’s something that they bond over. Alicent took Rhaenyra to the Sept and showed this emotional vulnerability, and let her see this part of her that she doesn’t really show to anyone.”
Obviously, since Rhaenyra slept with Cole, there have been other perceived betrayals. Specifically, Rhaenyra has flaunted her duty and had bastard children with a man she loved, unlike Alicent, who was forced to marry a much older man she felt nothing for and have his kids.
If you’re enjoying learning more about the history of Westeros, then check out our guide to the House of the Dragon cast, or we have articles on the dragons Vhagar, Meleys, Arrax, Caraxes, and Vermithor. If that’s not enough, we’ve also got an article all about House of the Dragons season 2 and a list of the best House of the Dragon characters.