The Spanish Princess Recap: Episode 2


It’s Festivus, aka, The Spanish Princess (2019), Starz’ new adaptation of a Philippa Fucking Gregory book about Catherine of Aragon, has premiered! Strap in for all sorts of historical wtf-ery and some deeply wackjob costuming by Phoebe de Gaye in the second of many recaps. Frock Flicks is a family: if I have to suffer, you have to suffer with me.

Prince Arthur and Catherine spend their wedding night together, and it doesn’t go well. He’s kind of jerky and kind of shy, she’s kind of arrogant and kind of wtf. Both try to school each other. No coitus happens.

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To be clear, I mock Arthur’s hair with love for the fact that it’s closer to historically accurate than most men’s hair seen on screen; and because he looks like Dorothy Hamill.

The next morning, Prince Henry and friends show up at Arthur and Catherine’s door basically teasing Arthur about getting laid. Arthur says his famous “last night I was in Spain” remark (which was really something he was supposed to have said, but it’s always been taken just as it’s played here, as boasting. It was quoted when Henry divorced Catherine as proof of her having had sex with Arthur).

Lina is very conscious of her and Rosa’s positions as Catherine’s ladies-in-waiting. She talks a lot about how they’re going to be married to English men, and tries to rein in Rosa.

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I can’t deal with Rosa’s way-too-long renfaire-Irish-leine shift. I also want a clearer shot of Lina’s overdress, because I feel like it’s more of an apron or smock than a dress?

Margaret Beaufort is control-y.

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She also wears a kind of smock/aprony thing over her gown. Is she about to do some welding?

There’s an event based around John of Gaunt, Catherine and Arthur’s common ancestor, in celebration of the wedding. King Henry makes some speeches.

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Catherine and Arthur don’t appear to be having fun.

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Catherine’s lower sleeves are clearly only attached in back, if at all, so they hang super low on her arm. She also wears a very Aliexpress headband tiara.

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Mags Pole wears yet another sticky-uppy French hood and a dress that just looks like a printed Christmas calico.

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Catherine decides to singlehandedly power the English electrical grid by wearing her windmill dress.

There’s some stupidity about dancing: Arthur tells Catherine they’re going to have to dance, she suggests a pavane, he says it has to be an English dance (the pavane was originally French), a galliard (which is originally Italian) is called, Catherine doesn’t know how to dance it, Mags Pole tips her off that it’s basically a pavane. FFS.

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Margaret Beaufort goes layered.

Henry watchdogs Catherine like nobody’s business, and Princess Margaret teases him for it.

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We’ll come back to her dress in a second.


Catherine apologizes to Mags for her brother’s execution and asks her pardon. Mags softens but is still upset.

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Catherine wanders back into the hall just in time for Prince Henry to pick her up and spin her. Arthur is pissy about it later.

A Scottish delegation shows up. Catherine is incredibly unregally, publicly rude to them because they’re Protestant, a rudeness that would go against her entire upbringing.

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The Scottish guy is wearing plaid and a skirty thing, but not a kilt, which is impressive! Kilts as we think of them being more 18th century.

Princess Margaret is brought in by her Grams; Dad announces she’s going to marry the Scottish king; Margaret is upset, since he’s 1. Scottish and 2. old. All of this happening in front of the Scottish ambassador. Dude, MARRIAGE TREATIES WERE COMPLEX OPERATIONS. THEY WERE NOT SUDDEN IDEAS. Margaret would have been informed of her impending marriage IN PRIVATE, not in front of strangers.

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Margaret gets the short end of the stick, costume-wise. It just looks dumpy, and like something you’d make from acetate taffeta because you wanted to be a princess, but only had access to Simplicity renfaire maiden patterns. The actress playing Margaret looks a lot like the young portrait of Catherine of Aragon, btw.

Catherine and Arthur are being sent off to Ludlow Castle in Wales so they can start learning how to rule. Margaret complains to Catherine about having to marry the Scottish king; Catherine basically tells her to make her own destiny.

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More dumpy on poor Margaret. Could they not spring for some kind of bust support?

Prince Henry actually acts like a bratty younger brother, teasing Margaret about cabers.

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Everyone is assembled to send off the couple.

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I’m still trying to figure out Margaret Beaufort’s outfit. Welding apron plus kicky shrug plus 17th c. Dutch cap = ?

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Princess Mary rocks the crushed panne velvet.

“Maggie” Pole and hubby accompany Arthur and Catherine to Ludlow. She and Arthur have a heart-to-heart about her brother and the fact that Catherine is trying. Both are clearly softening on Catherine. Arthur calls her “Aunt Maggie” and I throw up a little.

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Arthur and Catherine have a fireside heart-to-heart, where she tells him she respects Islam. Okay, so yes, Islam had a definite influence on Spain, but she never would have thought of it that way. Arthur is turned on.

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Luring you in with anachronistic religious tolerance and head necklaces.

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Arthur is wearing velvet trousers??

Arthur and Catherine GET IT ON. Definite coitus/penetration occurs! They even lounge in bed and read poetry to each other and talk about the standard trope of recreating King Arthur and the round table.

Princess Margaret informs her grandmother that she shouldn’t be married to the Scottish king because the Scots have been there for months and all they do is drink and carouse. Grandma Beaufort basically says “suck it up,” although it’s nice that they throw in a reference to her patronage of printers.

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More dump on poor Margaret!

Arthur and Catherine are shmoopy! Rosa fucks her married Lord Stafford up against a wall. Lina lectures Rosa some more, but Rosa informs her she’s a (slur word for Romani) insert hair toss and her people marry for LOVE and DESIRE!

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I think to indicate that they’re all casual and intimate and private, Catherine wears this very Ikat-couch-cover gown without an undergown and her chemise off the shoulders.

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What you don’t really see well on screen.

The sweating sickness has broken out (if you haven’t ever, that’s a fun one to read up on, mostly because we still don’t know what the disease actually was!). First Lina gets sick, then Arthur.

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Here’s that same Ikat-y dress, now worn as an overgown and so less annoying.

Lina survives because Oviedo cares for her… in the barn. I have no idea.

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She’s wearing some kind of hippie smock under her dress.

Arthur does not make it; Catherine pushes her way to his bedside before he dies; he tells her she’ll likely be sent back to Spain. King Henry and Queen Elizabeth rush to Ludlow, but he’s dead by the time they show up. They are distraught.

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Elizabeth wears this velvet-ribbon-applique’d ensemble for the rest of the episode, from dead-son through return-to-London-for-the-funeral.

Catherine is sad at the funeral. Lots of ominous stuff is said, most importantly, Queen Elizabeth who says about her, “I don’t care what happens to her.”

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Wearing a special mourning bun cover? The sleeves are very Lord of the Rings, but I like the antique 18th century trim.

Princess Margaret’s wedding had been put on hold, but now that Arthur is dead and the Spanish alliance is off, the Scottish alliance is back on. Catherine is told she has to wait to see if she’s pregnant.

We’ve survived two episodes!

77 Responses

  1. Katie

    These costumes were so horrible – I. Can’t. Even….Ill-fitting, ill-sewn and not historically correct. Oh, Janet Arnold, where are you when we need you?

  2. Elizabeth K. Mahon

    First of all, isn’t a little too early for the Protestant reformation, especially in Scotland? I mean John Knox wasn’t even born yet! And I can’t believe that they killed Arthur off in the 2nd episode. I thought he’d at least make it to episode 4 before dying. They were married for 6 months before he shuffled off this plane.

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Yeah, it wasn’t until the regency of Mary de Guise (Mary Queen of Scots’ mom; while she was a kid in France) that the Protestant lords started making a big stink.

    • Coco

      Maybe all the Scots did study abroad in Bohemia and came back with Hussite ideas.
      Also, Catherine has anachronistic respect for Islam (would she even referred to it as Islam?) because woke princess is woke but can’t deal with Protestantism?

      • MoHub

        Considering that Isabella was responsible for kicking all the Jews and Muslims out of Spain and persecuting any who remained, I doubt Catherine would have much sympathy for either group.

    • Victoria Hannah

      It’s too early for the Protestant Reformation (Period, end of sentence). Arthur dies in 1502. Martin Luther didn’t nail on Wittenburg’s door until 1517. They’re 15 years too early for the whole thing!!!

    • Lillian

      And the bit about Katherine telling Margaret to “make her own destiny” doesn’t make any sense either. Katherine was someone who believed in duty- but since they seem to be completely ignoring her real personality I’m not surprised. There’s also the fact that if Scotland really were Protestant at this point in time, there’s no way the Catholic English royal family would be marrying their princess to them. Religion was an important factor when it came to marriage in the 16th century!

      • Roxana

        Catherine believed passionately that becoming Queen of England was her God given destiny. The odds she faced getting there only reinforced that conviction. If anything she’d encourage Margaret to embrace becoming Queen of Scots and working for peace between the two countries.

  3. Susan Pola Staples

    Scotland was Catholic at time. Boy are they off. Also why are they wearing bad Renfaire clothes?

  4. Terézia Marková

    You must’ve misunderstand something, Scots can’t be protestant in this stupid show! Prince Arthur died in 1502, fifteen years before Martin Luther even nailed his theses on the cathedral door! And Scottish royal family didn’t become protestants untill future James I. was raised by protestant uncle! This makes absolutely negative sense!

    • Aleko

      Plus, of course, the Scottish upper classes wore the same kind of clothes as the French and English upper classes. Especially when on diplomatic missions. A nobleman just possibly might wear elements of the local peasant clothing when riding around the more backward bits of his own territory, but absolutely not when representing his country abroad!

  5. Dorothy O'Hare

    Ugh. So much pain in those costumes. The Ikat ensemble may have been purchased directly from Pendragon Costumes at Faire.

  6. LovingTheSnark

    thank you for watching this so I/we didn’t have to…

  7. Nzie

    Just… yikes. History, religion, culture, costumes… not putting sick attendants of the future queen in barns… did they try to get anything right? Also, looking at these costumes, I think it’s not just Margaret Tudor who is insufficiently supported in the bust.

    Poor Margaret/Georgie Hendley. She had better costumes in Narnia. Maybe it’s the fate of the Pevensie girls to be cast in shows that play fast and loose with history? Anna Popplewell (Susan) was in Reign, and now Lucy (Hendley) is in this. Narnia was obviously more in the medieval fantasy/LotR vibe, but also, the costumes fit and as they got older they weren’t left without bust support.

  8. picasso Manu

    I don’t care who gave lady Edith a glue gun. I want one! A gun, I mean.
    Upon reflexion, make that a flamethrower to go.
    And as for poor Magaret clothes? Ever seen somone considered “chubby” by the film industry dressed in something other than a potato sack?

          • Lillian

            The sad thing is, I think Margaret’s dumpy clothes might be the most historically accurate in the show.

            • saffireblu

              The overall cut/ style of Margaret’s main costume is right for the time, but I still take issue with both the muddy pattern, & the lack of contrast; this was clearly made all-in-one, but it wouldn’t have been- & considering how they’ve made some of the costumes, I’m surprised – my favourite Youtuber, PriorAttire did a similar costume: it was layered – the under-dress, the sleeves- I can’t describe it, just go look- it’s stunning, as are all her costumes- mid-17th c is my favourite.

  9. Author Jennifer Quail

    Even bad RenFaire clothes would look better if they at least FIT. Georgie Hendley looks like they just put her in a sack and I’m waiting for Slutty Lady In Waiting to trip, possibly over her cuffs, everything’s sagging so far.

    At least the older women found the hairpins. The White Princess was like “Elizabeth Wydeville you are HOW MANY YEARS OLD? Put something over your chemise and put your hair up!”

      • Roxana

        Why does the Queen of England have only two dresses?

        • Lillian

          And why does she look like she’s wearing a bathrobe?!!

            • Roxana

              As you demonstrated a post ago that is not what early Tudor maternity clothes looked like. Also Elizabeth got pregnant after Arthur’s death, didn’t she?

  10. Katie

    I think that Margaret Beaufort is wearing is meant to be a Flemish hood. Like the one that we see in the young Catherine or possibly Juana portrait. Unfortunately the person who made it was apparently relying on a description of a Flemish hood, as communicated by a drunk person who had seen a picture of one in Racinet once.

  11. Brandy Loutherback

    Did anyone else get a Kate Winslet in Titanic vibe when Catherine of Aragon was arguing with Arthur?

  12. mjsamuelson

    Poor Georgie Henley. She would have made a more believable Catherine, IMHO, and it would have meant someone would have put her in a corset or something. She’s a better actress than many in this episode, especially in the scenes where she’s got to hold her own against Dame Harriet Walter. I mean, the dialogue itself is WTF and there’s so much wrong generally, just not her acting.

  13. Roxana

    Oh my God. Crash and burn, no survivors.
    Margaret Tudor’s Scottish marriage was discussed, negotiated and generally talked about for YEARS before the proxy wedding finally took place two years after Catherine’s wedding and Arthur’s death. James IV was sixteen years older than Margaret granted but he was generally considered seriously hot and well educated and quite desirable a mate.
    The idea of Catherine feeling ‘respect’ for Islam after the Moors had conquered and occupied her country for centuries is ridiculous.
    As pointed out above Protestantism didn’t exist yet.
    They can’t seem to make up their minds about Lina’s status. Sometimes she’s a noble lady in waiting who can expect to make a good marriage. Other times she’s a hanger on that nobody cares about.
    Contemplate for a moment the sheer idiocy of a ‘Gypsy’ being appointed Lady in Waiting to an Infanta of Spain. It’s almost as ridiculous as a Moorish Lady in Waiting.
    I can’t talk about the costumes. I am trying to unsee them as I write.

    • Katie

      Not to mention the ‘ick’ factor of having the slutty lady in waiting be a hot blooded gypsy. Thus totally ruining any good will they earned by having Lina be the good girl.

      • Roxana

        I’m sure the Romany community are totally thrilled.

        • Lillian

          The whole thing with the ladies in waiting is just idiotic because we KNOW THE NAMES of Katherine’s actual ladies in waiting. Like Maria de Salinas for example. Why couldn’t they have just used the real people instead of making up fictional ones? I bet the real ones had more interesting stories than anything these hack writers could make up.

          • Charity

            If they gave Maria de Salinas the subplot of messing around with Buckingham instead of falling for Baron Willoughby, I’d be pissed — so I’m glad they “made up” these ladies in waiting. Gives me one less reason for rage.

            • Lillian

              Good point! If they’re going to be inaccurate, at least they’re not tainting the names of real people. I mean, they are with Katherine, but that’s to be expected.

        • Chelsea

          I’m Roma (Romanichal/Sinti) and I can say for certain that I and certainly a lot of members of my community I know regard the g word as a slur and in any case, if you’re not in the community don’t use it (@ writers). According to google, the actress isn’t Roma…which is an issue of it’s own.

          Aside from all that, it’s so very anti ziganist so be like “It’s my hot g*psy blood! My people marry for desire, we’re just so sexy-sexy!” That’s so much fun, it’s not like our few media portrayals constantly oversexualise and make us overly exotic or anything…

          I want to whack whoever wrote this over the head.

  14. Frannie Germeshausen

    Young Princess Margaret looks like Marla Hooch from A League of Their Own.

  15. Coco

    “The Constant Princess,” which is the basis for this, was probably the last PFG book I read and that was maybe ten years ago. So my memory may be faulty here, but as I recall in the book Arthur knew he was dying for a long enough time that he asked Catherine to claim their marriage was not consummated. He was meant to be the true love of her life, and he was so sure that she was the salvation of England that he made her swear to try to marry his brother and become queen. I don’t remember if anyone else, such as Margaret Beaufort, was aware of the plot. The whole thing’s nonsense, of course, but makes more sense as a motivation than, “hey, I guess I will lie for my whole life to stay in this foreign country that I have done nothing but disparage since I arrived months ago.”
    Also, wasn’t one of Henry’s arguments for his divorce that he was so much younger than Catherine that he was naive enough for her to dupe? That doesn’t really jibe with the whole hot bad boy teen they’ve cast him as.

    • M.E. Lawrence

      I wonder if P.G. was borrowing, consciously or un-, from the movie “Lady Jane,” in which Jane Grey and Guildford Dudley fall in love and dream of being liberal monarchs together, or something equally no-not-bloody-likely, all in the space of a few months.

  16. Lynelle

    Anyone else think Georgie Hendley looks kind of like Broomhilde from Men in Tights?

  17. Sheila

    I just couldn’t hang. Turned it off 10 minutes into this episode. I admire everyone’s fortitude for sticking with this, I sure couldn’t.

  18. Kathleen Julie Norvell

    A galliard is NOTHING like a pavane. A pavane is a slow, stately processioal and a galliard is a fast, show-off dance. As a semi-pro Renaissance dancer who performed and taught the dances of the period, that hurt. The costumes hurt even more. Is Angels and Bermans (or whatever it’s called these days) that effing expensive that they can’t rent a few decent ones?

    • Elizabeth K. Mahon

      Also, if Catherine had been preparing for years to become Arthur’s wife, learning English etc. don’t you think her mother would have had someone teach her the dances from the English court?

      • Kendra

        Yeppers. And, since most fashionable dances originated in France and Italy, there’s no reason she wouldn’t learn them simply by learning to dance!

  19. Charity

    I tolerated last week. I thought, “It could be worse.” Then it got SO MUCH WORSE. I ain’t even offended, because this is seriously HORRIBLE and nobody will take it even remotely seriously.

    The princess must know Scotland is full of hooooars? ;)

  20. Brandy Loutherback

    I got a Kate Winslet’s famous Kimono scene in Titanic when Catherine was arguing with Arthur the night before they went to Ludlow, any one else?

  21. Roxana

    Let’s all join hands and flee screaming into the night to escape this horror!

    Poor Georgia Heanley, she’s such a pretty girl and they make her look awful!

  22. Janet Nickerson

    That ‘windmill’ gown is right out of Tenniel’s illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice books.

    • Roxana

      I hope Kendra is being carefully monitored, this kind of serial trauma can be dangerous. Chocolate, lots of chocolate is my prescription.

  23. Roxana

    Why is Henry VII wearing his crown constantly? Maybe for a big honking ceremony like Arthur and Catherine’s wedding was in RL but not for receiving am ambassadors. I don’t even bother to ask why Prince Henry doesn’t have a hat on those curls.

  24. Patrick Keogh

    The overuse of crowns is driving me mental, do Elizabeth of York and Henry VII wear a tiara and a crown in every of their scenes? “Oh, just having a private heart-to-heart by the fire side with my daughter-in-law-to-be with my TIARA ON”. Henry VII busts in Catherine’s rooms, that at least happened, and he’s WEARING A CROWN IN PRIVATE. At least one of these scenes should not have a bloody crown in it, especially Henry VII burger king crown. I cried when I saw the image of the one scene with him wearing a hat. Jesu be praised!

    • Roxana

      The Crown of England was a sacred symbol as well as a valuable piece of jewelry that was kept under guard in Tudor times as well as today and only worn on first class occasions and public ceremonies. Otherwise Royalty contented themselves with more ornate versions of the bonnets and hoods worn by everybody else. Elizabeth and Margaret B should be wearing gable hoods as in all their known portraits and effigies. The Henrys should be wearing bonnets trimmed the saints medals or jewels depending in formality.
      NOBODY should be wearing freaking prints!!!! And what’s with this earh tones /neutrals palette??

  25. Liz

    What is up with the ultra-low necklines on one of Margaret’s and one of Elizabeth’s(?) gowns? I’m not an expert on early 16th century English women’s fashion, but…I don’t think I’ve seen anything that would lead me to believe that the neckline of the gown would hit under the nipples the way these do.

    Am I wrong? Hallucinating?

    • Roxana

      You are not wrong. At most square early Tudor necklines would have shown a hint of cleavage and generally not that. And they’d be filled by a linen chemise top not some satiny synthetic thing.

  26. Brandy Loutherback

    In the Novel Three Sisters Three Queens, Margaret’s arranged marriage to King James was a point of pride! Her speaking out against it just comes off as whining! I hope they do better with Mary QoF! PS: I refuse to refer to Margaret QoS as Meg! I won’t do it! NO!

    • Roxana

      Of course Margaret loved the idea of becoming a Queen, just like mama, and the importance of improving England’s relations with Scotland would certainly have been explained to her. As the actual departure date got nearer she’d probably become more anxious about the personal aspects like sex with a stranger, but her mother and grandmother would do their best to encourage and comfort her.
      NOBODY would dream of questioning the wisdom of parents choosing marriage partners.

      • shellieeyre

        Her mother and grandmother put up a united front in insisting that the king delay Margaret’s departure. Henry wrote to James to the effect that he was concerned about possible damage to Margaret’s health and delaying her going to Scotland. Margaret B of course knew only too well the impact of sex and pregnancy on an immature body, but of course no one questioned the marriage itself.

        There exists a letter written by young Margaret from Scotland to her father, saying that if she could somehow be with him she would. The inscription he wrote in her prayerbook when she left is also very touching. Plainly they were very fond of one another.

  27. Val

    I swear I’ve seen Elizabeth’s green/blue coat? on The Borgias. And judging by the bodice, her dress might’ve been recycled from the show as well.

  28. Deb Gans

    Happy to have found this article! Having watched all 4 seasons of Outlander, and loving the wonderful, researched costumes in those seasons (who knows what they will be like now that the amazing Terry Dresbach is no longer working there), I appreciate your criticism of the costumes in this show. They are definitely not historical or made very well.

    Considering this show is based on a Phillppa Gregory novel, why did the writers change the personalities of Henry VII and Elizabeth change so much from the White Princess?

  29. Gail F

    Great recap and I love all the comments. I was wondering myself about Princess Catherine’s very enlightened tolerance of Islam, given her parents’ eradication of Muslim influence (and regimes) from Spain. The rudeness of Princesses Margaret and Catherine towards the Scottish envoys was annoying and not credible; as kings’ daughters, they’d have been taught how to behave towards visiting ambassadors. Also, wasn’t Margaret only 13 at the time of Arthur’s death, not a young woman in her 20’s (actress Georgie Henley)? I would have much preferred to see Prince Henry and Princess Catherine portrayed by actors closer to their actual ages at this time; sexing up their relationship is silly, since the real Henry was a child when he met Catherine.

  30. Richard Kienhuis

    I actually think the series is pure pastime such as “The Tudors”, crazy costumes, weird plot twists and historically not 100% accurate.
    But I think the cast is actually well chosen except for King Henry VII, the original was a slender, slightly feminine man and in the series we see a kind of mafia boss with broad shoulders and beard (very sexy, but has nothing to do with Henry Vii).
    I think Margaret Beaufort is the best choice and I am very happy that Catharine is finally not portrayed as a black-haired Spanish Carmen.
    But it is actually time for a series to be made that, from a historical point of view, is entirely correct because the Tudor story is a story that does not need imaginative twists to fascinate people.