Anarchy returns to the monarchy on Nov. 15 with the season 2 premiere of E!’s dishy drama The Royals. As you’ll recall from the May finale, dastardly Cyrus (Jake Maskall) has won the game of thrones — for now, at least — following the death of his king brother Simon (Vincent Regan) and the illegitimacy of heirs Liam (William Moseley) and Eleanor (Alexandra Park). So what’s next for this dysfunctional dynasty when the series picks up two months after the king’s demise? Creator and EP Mark Schwahn gives us a character-by-character preview.
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown — especially one who’s fathered a child with the erstwhile palace maid. (You hadn’t forgotten about Prudence, right?!) “That’s a story line we’re going to get into right off the bat,” promises Schwahn. “We’ll find out what that is, and who that is, and whether or not Cyrus will be held accountable — whether, in fact, that is his child. We’ll hear from Prudence. We haven’t seen the last of Prudence.”
Prudence isn’t the only one who could pose a threat to Cyrus’ reign. “Queen Helena is always the straw that stirs the drink,” Schwahn teases of Elizabeth Hurley’s character. “She conspired with Cyrus to make these stars align, obviously with the paternity scandal. She is someone who’s wrestling with the idea of, Is it and was it all worth it? And the answer might be yes. She may say, ‘Yes, I’m in this far. Why would I turn back now [that] I’m so close to everything I’ve been chasing?’ With this order to change the order of succession, she’s one step away from the throne if something were to befall Cyrus. They’ve been thick as thieves but they’re still thieves those two.” Schwahn also hints that there could be a new romance in Helena’s future too.
Though unsure whether King Simon truly is his father, doubts won’t stop Liam from seeking justice. “He’s pretty driven to avenge his father’s death,” Schwahn says. “In the time that we’ve been away he’s been investigating and chasing clues and looking into the story behind the story.” There’s also the question of where Liam and sister Eleanor will fit into the new regime. “When we drop into the season, they’ve sort of been banished from the palace, but whether or not that has worked in favor of Cyrus and Helena is yet to be seen because they’re pretty popular. They may actually prefer to keep them close and have them appear to be working on behalf of the monarchy as opposed to against the monarchy.”
After the events of last season (including a bad romance with bodyguard Jasper), it isn’t terribly surprising that Eleanor could be, in Schwahn’s words, taking a bit of a “guy-atus.” “As we know from Eleanor’s past, we have seen her make all kinds of choices whether it was dating guys or girls — but I’m not saying it is,” he teases. Watch for Eleanor to make a colorful statement at an upcoming LGBT event.
Liam’s ex may be off in New York City attending dance school, but she isn’t gone for good. “We’ll see Ophelia this year as well,” Schwahn says of Merritt Patterson’s character. “We left her in New York. We don’t know if she’ll stay there. And for Liam, it’s very interesting: He’s had some tumultuous relationships, and I think the question for Liam is, as he said to his father, ‘Can I have it all?’ Can he have love as well? It’s rare air. I think Ophelia found that, as she said to him, ‘I wanted you; I just never wanted your world.’ Well, he’s pretty tethered to his world. It takes the right girl and the right situation for Liam. I don’t know. He might find it, he might not.”
The Grand Duchess
Last but certainly not least: Joan Collins will be back for at least four episodes as the persnickety matriarch. “What I love about the Grand Duchess is she’s contemporary and she gets the contemporary references, so she understands what’s going on in the world, and yet I think of all the characters who believed in the old-world caste system, I think the Grand Duchess flies the flag for that,” Schwahn explains. “We have this expression that the Queen knows everything but the Grand Duchess knew it first. She’s going to have her hands on a lot of things. I think of the Queen as a master manipulator, well the Queen learned from her mother quite well. The Grand Duchess, she can influence some people when she wants to. We know she has a good relationship with Cyrus, so that’s probably a good direction to look in.”
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Season 2 of The Royals premieres Nov. 15 at 10 p.m. ET on E!. Check out the trailer here.