Emma D'Arcy as Rhaeynyra Targaryen in House of the Dragon.

Rhaenyra Targaryen Was a Literal Child When She Became a Dragonrider BTW


Nowadays, it’s easy to feel pretty useless. Taxes, inflation, a dwindling job market…it’s kind of a terrible time to be a young adult. And with House of the Dragon season 2 having just landed on Max, it’s even more devastating to see just how competent Rhaenyra is, even as a child. So, just how old is she?

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Napoleon was at the ripe old age of 26 when he conquered Italy, which makes his career look meandering compared to Rhaenyra Targaryen’s (Emma D’Arcy/Milly Alcock). While she did, admittedly, make some mistakes along the way, Rhaenyra has been that girl since day one, confident, self-assured, and exceptionally strong-willed. I mean, by 26, she’d already popped out some babies, learned how to fly dragons, and made herself a crucial part of palace life—all before she was ever crowned “Queen.” Well, of Dragonstone, at least. I can’t even schedule a doctor’s appointment without my mom’s help, TBH.

When we first meet “The Realm’s Delight” in House of the Dragon season 1, the silver-haired Rhaenyra is 15 years old. For someone so young, Rhaenyra’s sure been through a lot by this point in her life—the mounting pressures of her royal/familial duties, the untimely death of her mother and infant brother … and the fact that she’s fostering a crush on her own uncle, Daemon Targaryen (Matt Smith). As if being a teenager wasn’t confusing enough already! In the show, Rhaenyra is depicted as being close in age to her former bestie, Alicent Hightower (Emily Carey/Olivia Cooke), though George RR Martin’s book Fire & Blood tells a different story, as Alicent is revealed to be nine years older than Rhaenyra.

Rhaenyra is married off to Ser Laenor Velaryon (Laenor) in the season 1 episode “We Light the Way,” when she’s around 17 or 18—her prime childrearing years, apparently. The ten-year time jump explains that Rhaenyra had her first—ahem, illegitimate—three sons with Ser Harwin Strong (Ryan Corr) before the age of 20, and she marries Daemon at 23 after the “death” of her husband. By the time House of the Dragon season 2 picks up in 129 AC (a.k.a. the first official year of the Dance of Dragons), Rhaenyra is roughly 32 years old.

I, for one, was reading One Direction Wattpad fanfiction and shopping at Hollister when I was a teenager, but whatevs. Meanwhile, Rhaenyra became a dragonrider at the age of seven, immediately forming a bond with her loyal companion, Syrax. Of course, it’s important to note that life expectancies weren’t exactly high in this fantastical world (or in the real-life Dark Ages), as King Viserys Targaryen (Paddy Considine) succumbed to illness at just 52, with his death having a ripple effect on the entirety of the Seven Kingdoms. This explains why Rhaenyra was forced to grow up so fast, and really drives home the tragedy of her life. So yeah, even if Rhaenyra accomplished a lot in such a short amount of time, I’m perfectly happy not gunning for the Iron Throne, thank you very much.

We’ll just have to see how things play out for “The Dragon Queen” when the next episode of House of the Dragon season 2 premieres on HBO and Max on Sunday, June 23, at 9PM PT/6PM ET.

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Amanda Landwehr
Amanda is a Los Angeles-based entertainment writer who lives and breathes Star Wars, Marvel, and all things pop culture. She has worked in digital media since 2021, covering the latest movie/TV releases, casting updates, fan theories, and so, so much more. When she's not rotting away behind her laptop screen, you can typically catch Amanda maxing out her AMC Stubs membership.