Daemon’s banishment from his own brother’s kingdom saw him return to the Vale to pour out his frustration on his wife. A story has been cooked up to hide the actual details of her death.
Daemon certainly never liked his wife, Rhea Royce, the Lady of Runestone and a vassal of House Arryn. When Daemon was asked to return to Runestone earlier in the show, he insulted his wife in front of a small council.
For years, he continued to reject his wife, stating that she was not his choice.
He told Rhaenyra how he saw marriage only as a political arrangement. Furthermore, he wasn’t happy with the idea of Rhaenyra becoming the heir to King Viserys either.
Daemon tried to form a connection with Rhaenyra by taking her to a brothel and later asked King Viserys to let him marry her.
The king saw through Daemon’s lust, which was for the throne, not for his daughter, and ordered him to go back to Vale, to his rightful wife.
Rhea Royce’s Death
As per the command, Daemon returned to Vale. Rhea was out there hunting after parting ways with her cousin, Ser Gerold Royce.
She crossed paths with her returning husband, who came wearing a cloak. Rhea insults a frustrated Daemon, much like how he used to insult her all the time.
She senses that Daemon is here with a motive and tries to get a hand on her bow. Before she could do that, Daemon attacked her and she toppled from her horse.
Despite falling onto the ground, Rhea continued with her insults directed toward Daemon, who in turn grabbed a rock and started walking towards her.
Although the show doesn’t show us what went down, it can be easily assumed that Daemon bludgeoned his wife to death using that rock.
Later in the episode, Corlys Velaryon informs King Viserys about Rhea Royce’s death. It’s been said that it was a hunting mishap. She fell from the horse, and her neck and skull got crushed in the process.
King Viserys acknowledges Rhea Royce as a fine woman and a good wife to Daemon. Rhaenys Targaryen also mentions how the couple didn’t have any heirs.
Daemon’s motives after his wife’s death
Rhea Royce’s cousin, Ser Gerold Royce, later accused Daemon of killing his own wife during the marriage celebrations.
Daemon opted not to answer these accusations. He instead decided to talk about his inheritance of Runestone. Since they didn’t have any heirs, whatever Rhea had is now passed on to him.
He told Ser Gerold about his plans to fly to Eyrie and petition Lady Jeyne himself. Ser Gerold had no option but to walk away.
Daemon joined the dance at the marriage to flatter Laena Velaryon and then his own niece Rhaenyra, with King Viserys keeping a close eye on him.
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