The limited series centers on Catherine of Aragon, the teenage princess of Spain who becomes Princess of Wales. When her husband Prince Arthur dies suddenly, the throne seems lost to her. That is, until she claims her marriage was never consummated and that, as a virgin, she may set her sights on the new heir: charismatic, headstrong Prince Harry, who will one day rule as King Henry VIII.
The match of Catherine and Harry was a “real love match,” insisted Charlotte Hope, who plays Catherine.
They were married for 24 years — until Henry VIII became, you know, the Henry VIII who went on to have seven more wives. In the case of Catherine, aka Wife No. 1, he became “obsessed with the idea that God was punishing him for marrying his brother’s wife,” EP/co-showrunner Emma Frost explained.
As to whether she consummated her first marriage, “we don’t know for sure – but let’s assume it was,” Graham said.
“From the age of 4 she had been told God is giving you the throne of England. It was not superstition or faith – it was fact,” he said. “When circumstances changed and the throne seemed to be out of her grip, she refused to believe that was God’s will. She had to fulfill the destiny god had laid out for her.
“As writers we went along with the notion she believed this was the right thing to do for the stability of Europe,” Graham said.
Also unknown is whether Stephanie Levi-John’s Lina character, Catherine’s lady-in-waiting, was a Moor. It is a fact of history that Catherine arrived in England with a diverse entourage, a fact that has been“whitewashed by history,” Frost told critics. She and Graham decided the character should address that “massive untold story.”
When she came to England, Lina would have been a free woman. Frost said, because slavery did not exist in England, nor did racism “in the way we know now.” Everyone not from the immediate area would have been treated with suspicion, Frost explained, but “no different than somebody from Wales.” Distinctions of class prevailed at the time, not color.
Among the things Catherine brought to England from Spain: a parrot. In the Starz series, the bird is played by animal actor Ricky.
And while saying he hates “to speak ill of the cast…Ricky was tricky,” Graham said cryptically.
“He was a difficult customer, a violent man,” Graham added.
Ricky is a biter, the cast revealed.
Ricky also has a stunt double – “who was as good as gold,” Graham acknowledged.
The Spanish Princess, from All3 Media’s New Pictures and Playground, is the latest chapter in the dynastic saga of Tudor England, a powerful, epic story that not only returns the audience to the world of royal court intrigue as seen uniquely through the perspective of the women, but also sheds light on a previously untold corner of history – the lives of people of color, living and working in 16th century London.