Image of Phoebe Dynevor as Daphne on Netflix's 'Bridgerton.' She is a young, white woman with red hair pulled up in a bun and wearing a light blue, Regency-era dress with cap sleeves and putting on sheer lace gloves. She's seated in a chair in a room with wood-paneled walls and talking to someone on her right.
(Netflix)

Daphne Bridgerton’s Love Story Wasn’t Always a Fairy Tale

So far, three Bridgerton siblings have found the loves of their lives—though Colin’s story isn’t over yet, and I really need the second half of season 3 to come out soon—but it was Daphne (Phoebe Dynevor), the eldest Bridgerton daughter, who set the bar so unbelievably high.

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Though she isn’t the first-born child, Daphne was the first of Violet Bridgerton’s sizeable brood to find a love match and get married. In Julia Quinn’s novels, Daphne’s story takes place in the first of the Bridgerton books, The Duke & I, and in Shonda Rhimes’ Bridgerton adaptation, Daphne’s story takes place in season 1 of the Netflix show. Many of the genre’s classic tropes were used and reinterpreted in Bridgerton season 1—fake “courting,” friends-to-lovers, disastrous miscommunication, and plenty of steamy scenes brought Daphne’s love story to life. So, who did she actually marry? How did their romance unfold?

**Major spoilers ahead for Bridgerton season 1 and The Duke & I.**

Daphne became the Duchess of Hastings

Simon and Daphne at the ball in Season 1 of Bridgerton
(Netflix)

During her first season out in society, Daphne met Simon Basset (Regé-Jean Page), better known to the Ton as the Duke of Hastings. Simon was an old friend of Daphne’s eldest brother, Anthony, as the two had met while at university together. Simon’s reputation preceded him, however, and many viewed him as a rake. And yet, as he and Daphne grew closer as friends and they hatched a plan to fool the Ton into thinking they were “attached,” Simon proved himself to be loyal, strong, romantic, and genuine. Their feelings for one another grew, but their actual wedding wasn’t exactly a dream.

Before they were officially betrothed, Simon and Daphne let their feelings get the best of them, resulting in a steamy and passionate tryst during one of society’s many public gatherings. Though they initially believed no one besides Anthony had seen them, Daphne soon realized that the Ton’s cattiest debutante, Cressida Cowper, had also spotted them in the garden. There was only one solution: Simon had to marry Daphne to save her from ruin. Unfortunately, marriage wasn’t part of the Duke’s future plans, and he initially declined.

After a rather sad attempt at a duel between Simon and Anthony, Daphne finally discovered why Simon was so reluctant to marry her. Simon told her that he couldn’t have children, and a big family, much like the one she grew up in, was all Daphne had ever wanted. But being a woman during that period of history was difficult, and she knew her life would be over if she and Simon didn’t wed. Finally, they set a date, and after an incredibly brief engagement, Simon and Daphne were finally married and free to express their true feelings for one another. What followed was an incredibly passionate honeymoon; a honeymoon that was soon brought to a crashing halt when Daphne realized that Simon had refused to tell her the truth.

They really needed to be more honest with one another

A white woman and a biracial Black man kiss sensually in Regency era dress.
(Netflix)

As it turns out, Simon wasn’t physically incapable of having children, he’d just promised he’d never have them. His father, the previous Duke of Hastings, was, to put it bluntly, a tyrant. All he’d cared about was his continued legacy, and when Simon grew up with a stutter, the Duke pretended his son had died. When Simon finally grew up to be the man his father had always wanted him to be, Simon vowed, on his father’s deathbed, that the Hastings line would end with him.

Should Simon have told Daphne about his vow rather than letting her believe that he simply couldn’t have children? Of course—it would have saved them both a lot of heartache. But Daphne’s retaliation was, in all honesty, much worse. Violet really hadn’t taught her daughter anything before she left home; I really need the mothers of Bridgerton to be less afraid of telling their daughters about sex, though those scenes are, admittedly, awkwardly funny. As a result of Daphne’s lack of knowledge, however, and in her desperation to have a child, Daphne essentially forced herself on Simon, hoping that it would lead to a pregnancy. In the end, luckily for both of them, it didn’t. That moment certainly didn’t help their relationship, though.

After plenty of fights, arguments, one-off hook-ups, and time apart, Simon and Daphne eventually reached a mutual understanding and rekindled their romance, for better or for worse. In the final episode of Bridgerton season 1, Daphne gives birth to their first son, August, who makes another adorable yet brief appearance in Bridgerton season 2. For those of you just diving into the Bridgerton frenzy, I should warn you—the Duke does not return to the show after Bridgerton season 1. Daphne does return in Bridgerton season 2, but not in season 3, so if you’re hoping to see more of Daphne and Simon, you’ll just have to rewatch season 1 again.


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El (she/her) is The Mary Sue's U.K. editor and has been working as a freelance entertainment journalist for over two years, ever since she completed her Ph.D. in Creative Writing. El's primary focus is television and movie coverage for The Mary Sue, including British TV (she's seen every episode of Midsomer Murders ever made) and franchises like Marvel and Pokémon. As much as she enjoys analyzing other people's stories, her biggest dream is to one day publish an original fantasy novel of her own.