All you need to know about The White Princess

How does this epic saga relate to The White Queen, and where does it fit in the timeline of British history? Our guide to The White Princess reveals all.

King Henry and Elizabeth of York


The White Princess is about the Tudors, but not as you know them. Put aside all thoughts of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I - the two Tudor monarchs who forever hog the historical limelight - because this is a tale that takes us back to the very first Tudor king: Henry VII. Even seasoned period drama buffs may well be taken by surprise, because this is a chapter in British history that's been overshadowed by the turbulent eras that came before (the Wars of the Roses) and after (the time of Henry VIII). But this is a time of unique peril, with lethal power-play taking place amid bitter rivals. The victors will set the foundations on which the Tudor dynasty will be built.


Before The White Princess, there came The White Queen - a saga which stepped back a little further in time to chronicle the violent days of the Wars of the Roses, when the Houses of York and Lancaster grappled for the throne. The eponymous "White Queen" was Elizabeth Woodville, a woman whose radiant beauty utterly bewitched the Yorkist monarch Edward IV, despite the objections of almost everyone around him. She, after all, was of the House of Lancaster, and nowhere near high enough on the aristocratic ladder.

But they tied the knot anyway, and had children whose lives would affect the course of history. Edward IV eventually died, and - after much sinister intrigue - his brother Richard III took the crown. The Yorkists' days were numbered, though. Henry Tudor, groomed for power by his fiercely ambitious mother Margaret Beaufort, toppled Richard in battle, becoming Henry VII.


The White Princess picks up at this pivotal moment, with Henry VII getting used to his new position - not just as king, but as the would-be unifier of a battle-scarred nation. The "White Princess" herself is Lizzie, daughter of Elizabeth Woodville, and like her mother before her, she is to wed a brave new leader in uncertain times. But their circumstances are very different.

While Elizabeth Woodville and Edward IV were star-crossed lovers from the start, Lizzie and Henry VII can't stand each other. Her mother's marriage was about passion, but Lizzie is embroiled in the savage politics of her time. She and Henry are expected to marry to unite the rival houses and seal the peace for good, but their prospective families have other ideas, and the former White Queen, Elizabeth Woodville, is still very much on the scene - and determined to avenge the Yorkists and put one of her own back on the throne.


There's another reason the marriage of Lizzie and Henry looks doomed from the start. As The White Queen showed us, Lizzie was in love with Richard III (her own uncle, but these were olden times so no need to dwell on that). And Henry destroyed Richard's reign, so unsurprisingly there's a lot of personal fury here. There's also the secret matter of Lizzie's brother, who has been squirreled away under a new identity, and is a hidden threat to the throne.

But, as Lizzie is expected to become the mother of the next generation of Tudors, her loyalties will soon be divided. Will she stay faithful to the grand plans of her mother, her brother and the Yorkists, and try to bring down her own royal household, or will her growing power as queen make her rethink everything?


History lovers may be curious to know how the events depicted in The White Queen and The White Princess would connect to the later, more famous Tudor eras? Well, the historical Lizzie and Henry VII had a number of children - the eldest being Prince Arthur, who was heralded as the future of the Tudor dynasty before his untimely death as a teenager. The burden of destiny fell on Lizzie and Henry's other son, who was named after his father. This boy would become Henry VIII, one of the most powerful monarchs in British history, who would usher in the Reformation and remake the nation with violent aplomb, and who would in turn pave the way for Elizabeth I and the Golden Age.