Power, Politics and Leadership through the lens of the Spanish Princess Netflix Series.

Episode 2: Fever Dream: The sad reality of the only seat on the table — not for the faint-hearted


King Henry VII

Queen Elizabeth

Queen Isabella

Princess Catherine of Aragon

Prince Arthur

Lady Margaret Pole

Margaret Tudor (Prince Arthur’s sister)

Understand the environment you are coming into

Coming into a position of power, isolated and without much support, can be daunting. The support system one often comes in with is external and not necessarily attuned to the political dynamics of the new environment. The case is the same for the Spanish Inferno — Princess Catherine. She is accompanied by the Diplomat who is brought in to settle her, her ladies in waiting and a few soldiers as gifts from Spain. Life is strange, the weather is horrible and everything about this new culture is different. The few minutes of a little relationship she attempts to forge with the mother-in-law is short-lived. Queen Isabella tells her in no uncertain terms that she is there to be wife to Arthur and bear heirs for the English Kingdom. No affection is wasted here and there is no intention of appearing any warmer.

She walks into a new world without armor. There is no way to assess the political landscape as well as the levers of power. The Diplomat, who should have easily fulfilled this orientation and role is not effective. 2ndly, she is surrounded only by the ladies she trusts, the ladies from Spain. This keeps them in the dark about the environment, and who is the puppet master in this game. The matriarch, King Henry VII’s mother, seems aloof and has negative initial observations about the assertiveness of the Spanish Princess. What they fail to decipher is that the Tudor monarchy is highly toxic and hostile. Marred by great secrets, and sacrifices, it is established on deception. King Henry, who is about to be Princess Catherine’s father-in-law was not the legitimate heir. He was able to break the English Empire’s siege and establish the Tudor dynasty despite having little claim to the throne when the Wars of the Roses ended. This is because a Yorkist army led by Richard III was defeated at Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485 and the battle ended in Richard’s death and Henry as king of England that day. The Tudors found a gap to intercept the vulnerable York monarch and forced a union between the Tudor and the York bride. The monarch has ever since been plagued by deception, ruled by fear, and any deference often punished by death. The matriarch, King Henry’s mother, is the only way in, and all she is interested in is power and maintaining Henry as the King for her purposes. What Princess Catherine can rely on here is her strength, and her knowledge of self. It still does not make it any easier to navigate.

With conflicted emotions, the wedding takes place and she becomes the Princess of Wales. The first few days are a nightmare and far from what she expected. Arthur lives with the insecurities of his brother having secretly written letters to his prospective bride, sharing the most intimate thoughts. Catherine had no way of knowing that these letters were from Harry, Prince Arthur’s brother. Prince Arthur has mixed emotions and this delays the intimacy between the new couple. The union is somewhat awkward.

Even in this, the wise Princess Catherine protects her home and husband from the mockery of his brother and the gossip of the Palace. Realizing how a challenging road this will be, Princess Catherine understands how close her husband is to his aunt, Lady Margaret Pole. She strategically structures an alliance with her where she gets into grips with why she is indifferent towards her. She later understands that the condition her mother gave for her to be betrothed to Arthur was the removal of the 2 boys who had a possible claim to the throne — one of whom was Lady Pole’s brother. She opens up about her innocence and that, whilst the requirement came from her mother, she had not been aware of it. The strategy pays off well. Lady Pole helps to lighten Prince Arthur’s heart towards Princess Catherine. Foundations, foundations, foundations, and secrecy. Her strength in this difficulty is her self-knowledge and just how much power she wields in this union. Finally, the marriage is consummated. The love seems to be blooming.

Meanwhile, whilst the union between Spain and England seems to be faring well, the trouble in the North with Scotland is mounting. The Queen Mother orchestrates a match between Margaret Tudor (Prince Arthur’s Sister) and the Scottish King. Sounds like a great plan to end the troubles with the North. A treaty is formed, much to Margaret’s displeasure. From this, it is clear where the center of the Palace’s power is and has always been. Powerful and a master manipulator from behind the scenes. She constantly has her eyes and ears everywhere in the palace. Reminds me of many leaders who rule by fear. Margaret’s protests, of course, fall on deaf ears as the grandmother forces her to look at the bright side of settling. She is comforted by Princess Catherine who shows her that even in this predicament, she can choose what can work for her.

Whilst all seems to be settling well, tragedy strikes. The plague strikes back — the sweat. Thousands had died in the past when it was brought by the Tudors. Sadly, Prince Arthur is a casualty. Princess Catherine becomes a Dowager Princess and she is, for the first time, confronted by the ruthlessness of the English. Alone, confused, and not sure of her future. Decisions are to be made, Princess Catherine has to return to England unless she is with child.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. What are the power dynamics in your environment and what sources are you using to scan it?
  2. Who is your Lady Pole?
  3. On which side of the King or the matriarch are you? If you do not manage this one, someone else is managing it for you.
  4. When are the red flags of culture fit glaring and we ignore them?
  5. Who are you when your main goal falls apart?



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A Marketer, with an absolute passion for new challenges. An advocate for inclusive societies and work places. Love for Technology and innovation.