Apr 29 2011 3:52pm

Excuse Me, Your Worshipfulness: Five Unmarried Royal SFF Characters

Kate and William in spaaaace

Here on Earth, at this very moment, humans are all abuzz about the eminent marriage of Prince William and Kate Middleton (pictured above joyously making the Death Star run). This got us thinking about all the emperors, kings, queens, princesses and princes, and so forth that occupy the dimensions of science fiction and fantasy. But royal characters in SFF don’t always get married and live happily ever after. Here are five royal characters from the dimensions of science fiction and fantasy who, for whatever reason, are single.

5. Emperor Palpatine (Star Wars)

If you think about it, it’s a real drag that Palpatine didn’t ever have a girlfriend, wife, boyfriend, or husband. Giving Palps a lover would actually help us relate to him a little more. What makes him happy after he becomes Emperor? The gloating? With who? Anakin had the right idea here; he was thinking about ruling the galaxy with his wife who was also mother of his children. This makes sense on the very basic level that Anakin could keep all this dark side/Empire business in the family well after he died. Palpatine had no family and no chance of extending his Empire past his own reign. Basically he was just adopting new “children” constantly, even though he secretly knew they were all going to kill him. As a royal decision maker, Palpatine was pretty shortsighted.


4. Borg Queen (Star Trek: First Contact, Star Trek: Voyager)

Now it’s pretty obvious the Borg Queen wasn’t planning on being single forever. She was totally into finding a Borg King to share assimilation time with. But after neither Data nor Picard wanted to rule over all of Borgdom with her, she sort of gave up hope. True, she technically was killed and then randomly returned on Voyager as a different actress and then reverted back to the previous actress just in time for Janeway to blow her up, but still, she was probably really lonely during all of that. And just because the Borg Queen rules over automatons who all do exactly what she says, it doesn’t mean she doesn’t want love. (Image via


3. Queen Amidala (Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace)

Yes, Padme Amidala did get married to Anakin Skywalker, but it was totally a secret! And by that time she wasn’t even the Queen anymore! The royalty on Padme Amidala’s home planet Naboo is also pretty interesting insofar as they seem to always be extremely young, unmarried women, elected by their people. Considering that Naboo puts very young people in charge of planet-wide administration, it’s no wonder they got overrun by the Trade Federation in three seconds. Would things have turned out better if Amidala had been Queen later in life? Then would Anakin have become King of Naboo and maybe calmed down a little? Maybe running an entire galaxy was a little too much for that guy. A small planet with friendly, ridiculous aliens might have been the perfect kingdom for the two of them.


2. King Triton (Disney’s The Little Mermaid)

It’s a pretty long-standing tradition that parents in Disney films are almost always single parents, but we think the King Triton case is particularly damaging. Presumably there was a mother at some point, but then again, we’re not to clear on how the fictional mermaids of this universe reproduce. King Triton is pretty much one of the worst fictional royal figures of all time. He rules over the entire ocean and yet doesn’t really have a grasp on what’s going around just a few miles outside of his castle (i.e. lots of junk/sharks), he has a bizarre isolationalist policy with absolutely no way to enforce it, and he seems to have unlimited power contained in his magical trident and yet is totally unwilling to do anything with it. We think if King Triton had had someone in his life, there’s a chance that person could have put some of this stuff in perspective.


1. Théoden (The Lord of the Rings)

Now we know for a fact that this guy was married at some point, because we’ve got Eowy and Eomer. And while some other kings and queens do okay with being single, Théoden seems to have some issues. It is possible that the absence of someone in the King of Rohan’s life was the window Wormtongue needed to creep his way into his role as advisor.

Or maybe not. Once Théoden gets rid of this particular jerk, he does just fine. Though he temporarily wavers, Théoden is a good example of a single royal who can handle things on his own.

Ryan Britt is a staff blogger for 

Elio García
1. Egarcia
Ahem. Éowyn and Éomer are Théoden's niece and nephew, respectively!

OTOH, Théodred was his son, and heir to the Riddermark, so you're right, we definitely know Théoden was married. He was married to Elfhild, but she died before the events of the novels, so ... yeah, he's an eligible bachelor, provided his being 71 years old isn't a problem.
2. Crowgirl
Plus even if, as Egarcia so neatly points out, they weren't his niece and nephew -- you don't have to be married to have kids.
3. Michael S. Schiffer
Crowgirl@2 Though you'd be hard-pressed to show that in Middle-Earth, where the recorded out-of-wedlock birthrate is (I think) zero even among the bad guys. Though some of those marriages are pretty sketchy by our standards. (Particularly Eol the Dark Elf's marriage-by-capture of Aredhel in the Silmarillion.)

The bad guys being mostly offstage helps, admittedly-- whether Orcs marry at all or not is AFAIK left unexplored.
4. amphibian
Amidala's election as queen parallels the Nepali Royal Kumari ( It's Lucas's hamhanded attempt at a stylistic update of that.
5. Michael S. Schiffer
amphibian@4 I'm not sure I see the parallels: according to the article, Kumari are preadolescent, aren't elected, and don't directly wield political or state power. Amidala was an adolescent elected head of state. (I only know what I remember from the movies, though-- did Amidala have some religious role on Naboo that parallels the Nepalese institution?)
6. Emilee
King Triton was married and his wife, whose name eludes me and none of my daughters is awake to ask, was killed by a human ship. This explains some of his weird isolationist policies and anti-human tendencies.
7. Lesley A
An 'eminent' marriage, in that the couple are part of a rich, powerful family, but also an 'imminent' marriage, being as it happened at 11am on April 29th, Earth time.
Ryan Britt
8. ryancbritt
@Lesley This wedding must have gotten my brain scrambled.

@Egarcia You are totally right. See above comment about my brain being scrambled. Forgive.
9. amphibian
@ Mike, 5

Hang on a bit. I'm not saying it's an exact copy.

The tradition of the people choosing a young girl for a position of power and the stylized costuming are what Lucas took and changed to get the character of Amidala.

The Kumari used to have considerable power, mostly held in and wielded by her caretakers and support system, but it is no longer a position of power in the modern world. Amidala had power on Naboo, but as things "became modern" (the Emperor rose), she lost her power.

The costuming of both are stylistitically similar - although Amidala's is a bit more conventionally attractive, diverse and spiffier.

It makes no sense whatsoever to elect a preadolescent or adolescent head of state. It's Lucas's mishandled prequel trilogy to do with as he wishes. I'm pointing out the Nepali parallel because I am Nepali, not because I think Lucas did anything post 1983 that was actually good.

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