Baela and Rhaena Targaryen in House of the dragon

This Might Be the Silliest ‘House of the Dragon’ Pet Peeve to Have and Yet Here I Am

What can I say, that’s how it is.

As a long-time fantasy fan, I’ve always been a sucker for titles. Royal titles, noble titles, religious titles, any sort really. Maybe it’s my deep-seated love for worldbuilding, maybe it’s a touch of the good old autism, but I love it when a story has an extensive use of titles that define its society and its characters. 

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That’s why very few pet peeves annoy me more when titles are misused—not in relation to real life, but when it comes to that story’s own internal logic. And so here we are at what has to be the silliest complaint I could ever move towards House of the Dragon. Why oh why are Baela and Rhaena alternatively referred to as Lady or as Princess?

The younger versions of Baela and Rhaena Targaryen as they appeared in House of the Dragon
Are they Princesses or Ladies? Pick one! (HBO)

Most of the time they are mentioned both in Fire & Blood and in House of the Dragon they are called Lady Baela and Lady Rhaena, but sometimes characters will switch it up and use the title “Princess” to refer to them. The lack of internal consistency is killing me here! Pick one and stick with one!

And I can’t for the life of me understand why exactly they wouldn’t just be called “Princesses” from the start. Sure, their mother was a Lady but their father is a Prince, after all, and they should inherit the title from him—especially considering that there hasn’t been a single Targaryen woman after the Conquest not to be addressed as Princess.

The only way I can think of that makes vague sense—in the relative way in which we’re here discussing nobility titles in a high fantasy series—is that the system of titling members of the Westerosi royal family works something like the one the British royal family has in place since much of A Song of Ice and Fire is inspired by the United Kingdom.

In that sense, Baela and Rhaena aren’t Princesses because they’re not direct descendants of a monarch while their father is. Hence why Rhaenys is a Princess, since her father Aemon was the intended heir of King Jaehaerys I—and when he died, that title passed onto his younger brother Baelon, the father of Viserys and Daemon.

HBO's House of the Dragon: Matt Smith as Daemon Targaryen looking sad
Then again, both Viserys and Daemon were born when their uncle Aemon was still alive and expecting to take the Throne so why are they Princes from the start and Baela and Rhaena aren’t? (HBO)

So that’s also why Rhaenyra and her children all have princely titles, even if the first three don’t carry the Targaryen surname. Rhaenyra is the direct descendant of a King and so are her children, since they are all sons of that King’s chosen successor. In contrast, the twins are removed from the direct line of Viserys by being children of his brother—more or less in the same way that the two children of the late Queen Elizabeth II’s youngest son Prince Edward aren’t styled as HRHs.

Then again, this is still a fantasy show we’re talking about so let Baela and Rhaena be Princesses all the time, it’s nothing less than what they deserve.

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Benedetta Geddo
Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.