In preparation for The White Princess, which premieres April 16th on Starz, I thought I would repost my blog about its prequel The White Queen, which was originally posted at Aye, Tortuga!. I updated a few sections, otherwise, these were my first thoughts about the series.
I am really enjoying The White Queen, but no one else seems to be talking about this summer mini-series. The show is based on The Cousins’ War book series by Philippa Gregory and focuses on Elizabeth Woodville (wife of Edward IV), Margaret Beaufort (mother of Henry Tudor), and Anne Neville (wife of Richard III).
The story begins in 1464 during the Wars of the Roses. The House of York and the House of Lancaster are at odds over who is the rightful King of England. With the help of Richard Neville, Earl of Warwick, also known as “The Kingmaker,” the Yorkist Edward IV has taken the throne. He soon falls in love with and secretly marries a Lancastrian commoner named Elizabeth Woodville. Warwick feels betrayed by this marriage, and threatened by Elizabeth’s family, and begins to make plans to regain power. Part of this plan involves using his daughters, Anne and Isabelle, as bargaining chips. Still loyal to dethroned Lancastrian King Henry VI, Margaret Beaufort believes that her son is destined to one day be king and does everything in her power to keep him safe from the Yorkists who would seek to destroy the Lancaster line.
My only real complaint about this particular series is that, aside from the changing children actors, no one seems to age on this show. They are definitely moving through Edward’s reign fairly quickly, but sometimes you can only tell how much time has passed by how pregnant the Queen is every episode. (Elizabeth and Edward had ten children together.) I get that it is difficult to change a person’s appearance significantly over the course of filming just ten episodes of television, but Edward ruled from 1461 until 1483, he and his wife did not look exactly the same for 20 years. Isn’t that what hair and make-up departments are for?
On the other hand, the acting performances are impressive, especially considering I have never heard of the majority of the actors. The cast includes Rebecca Ferguson, Amanda Hale, Faye Marsay, Max Irons, Aneurin Barnard, Eleanor Tomlinson, Janet McTeer, David Oakes and James Frain. Irons is the son of Jeremy Irons and has been in a few other films, including Red Riding Hood with Amand Seyfried, but I have not seen any of them. The only actor I know is Frain, who was on The Tudors, The Cape, True Blood, had guest appearances on several popular shows, and was Forney in Where the Heart Is with Natalie Portman. I would say that among them, I have not seen one weak performance. Since this series aired, Ferguson has starred in Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation, Florence Foster Jenkins, and The Girl on the Train; Marsay was on Game of Thrones; Barnard was on War & Peace; Oakes was on Victoria; and Tomlinson is currently on Poldark.
I really just find the history fascinating. I understand that a lot of British history has been sensationalized by Hollywood, but most of it is fairly accurate, at least in terms of which people were involved and how the rulers gained power. There is a reason why they keep telling stories about these people, and I love it all. At some point I will watch all the movies and TV shows in chronological order, starting with The White Queen, and including The Tudors, both Elizabeth films, The Madness of King George, The Young Victoria, The King’s Speech, The Crown, and The Queen. And I am sure there are many others that I am missing that could fill in some of the gaps between rulers. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
All ten episodes of The White Queen are on the Starz website and OnDemand, so you definitely have time to catch up before tuning into The White Princess. The sequel picks up with King Henry VII (Henry Tudor) being forced to marry Elizabeth of York (daughter of King Edward IV and Queen Elizabeth), in order to bridge the divide between the Yorks and Lancasters. It stars Jodie Comer, Jacob Collins-Levy, Essie Davis, and Michelle Fairley. If you are a fan of the drama of the British monarchy, and enjoyed any of the movies listed above, then I definitely recommend you check out both of these series.