The White Queen, The White Princess have past, and now The Spanish Princess is the new Starz series based off of Philippa Gregory’s books. I enjoyed The White Queen more than The White Princess, but that doesn’t matter. The story has moved years ahead with Henry VII and Queen Elizabeth awaiting the arrival of the Spanish Princess to marry Arthur, the heir to the English throne. Betrothed as children, Catherine of Aragon, the daughter of the two Spanish monarchs is about to save England, bringing the power of Spain behind a weakened and bankrupt England.
The only difficult switch between these series is that the cast changes each time, and continuity of character is often lost. Three Margaret Beauforts have played the three series, all who have portrayed the parts much differently. However, based on the years that pass between each series, it’s probably understandable that the same actors cannot always be available to carry on the characters as they age in a story line.
In The White Princess, we watched young and uncertain Henry VII take the throne, surrounded by enemies and those would who take the title back from him. Now aging and still somewhat fraught with self-esteem issues and a controlling wife, he anxiously awaits the marriage of Catherine and Arthur to bring stability back to England.
We are introduced to a young Infanta (the daughter of a ruling monarch of Spain), who is headstrong and certain in her calling to become Queen of England. She’s obedient to her mother, assured, and not afraid to speak her mind. Her purpose in life is to rule England alongside her husband, however, shortly after they wed Arthur dies. Along the sidelines is a younger and more roguish Henry (he says, “please call me Harry”), who will soon take his place as Catherine’s husband instead.
The historical timeline is not accurate. They depict Henry as the younger brother of Arthur much older. Historically, Arthur was fifteen and Henry ten at the time when Catherine arrived. She was sixteen. Charlotte Hope plays the young princess and fits the older stereotype, however, the actress’ accent makes it difficult to always catch watch she is saying.
Of course, this is an adaptation, if you will, of history itself. Slightly altered to make the story more interesting, rather than letting you wait all those years after Arthur’s death for Henry to become of age (seventeen) before he marries Catherine. In this story line, the sparks are already flying between the two, and as history records, supposedly, Catherine and Henry were happy for many years. Of course, the son he wanted never arrived and eventually his eyes wandered after twenty years of marriage to Anne Boleyn.
I thought it interesting in the second episode that they allude the marriage was consummated between Arthur and Catherine, when in fact she denies it after Arthur’s death. In a sense, they leave the audience hanging. For some reason, I thought they would stay true to her claims, but now it really opens up the question whether she did lie in order to marry Henry and save her marriage. We will never know. Somewhere I read that Arthur boasted after the wedding night that “last night I was in Spain,” which was quoted in episode two.
Die-hard historical lovers will bewail this series, and they have already done so. Complaints from the wrong ages to terrible accents have filled social media. Also, don’t get the fashion experts started, or you’ll be drawn into debates about the clothing and hairstyles. Nevertheless, I say, let Starz and Phillipa Gregory have their creative liberties to tweak history. The story is interesting, and frankly, I haven’t thought much about what Catherine went through to come from a foreign land and marry Arthur. It’s a good perspective on what she endured and the challenges she faced.
Women of this time period were pawns in the game of thrones being married and carted off to kingdoms to form alliances. They had no choice, but destinies to fulfill whether they liked them or not. I can watch this series with interest based on the fact it makes me think about her mark on history. For me, that’s good enough.