The New Crown Princess
Episode 12 of Under the Queen’s Umbrella begins with Seongnam getting ready to fulfil his duties as the new Crown Prince. Hwa-Ryeong is proud of her son stepping up and she can’t stop smiling. She gushes over how good he looks in the Dragon Robes and offers him a knee-guard, prepping him ready for long study sessions and his need to serve the King and carry out his duties diligently.
Seongnam does his rounds and speaks to the Queen Dowager, keeping his wits about him in the presence of this snake. When Dowager tests his resolve, Seongnam remains steadfast in his desire to be just and right, refusing to use his power to dominate others and to treat them fairly. He even greets Uiseong warmly in the hallway, although as we know he has plans of his own to overthrow the King. He heads in to see the Dowager, who promises to always keep an eye on him going forward.
When Seongnam leaves, Hwa-Ryeong is worried. She knows that the first day as Crown Prince is a trial by fire, with harsh hazing rituals coming in the form of difficult questions thrown at him by the scholars. All of this is a test to find faults and see if there’s any way they can manipulate or find cracks in his defence. She hopes he can withstand this barrage.
The new Crown Prince does well, getting an outstanding mark from many of the scholars and exceeding expectations. However, the subject of who will be the Crown Princess is the point of contention here and Hwa-Ryeong is concerned. After all, if one of Dowager’s girls ends up getting close to Seongnam, it’ll only be a matter of time before they backstab him and usurp the position.
The only thing for it is research the best candidates, with Consort Tae and Hwa-Ryeong working through each candidate in town to whittle down to the best person. Tae comes in as a bundle of energy, gushing over the eldest daughter of the Chief Royal Secretary. According to what she’s heard, the girl is gentle, educated and the perfect match for Seongnam.
However, Hwa-Ryeong spies Yoon Cheong-Ha outside, standing up for the rights of the common folk. What’s interesting here are the parallels between her and Hwa-Ryeong, whom we know stood up for the rights of the downtrodden in the past. Hwa-Ryeong is curious over why Cheong-Ha is not on the list and decides to speak to her personally.
Cheong-Ha is not particularly enthused about being a Crown Princess, and while others are all for it, she’s more interested in her personal Prince Charming. Funnily enough, Hwa-Ryeong points out that Seongnam is actually the Crown Prince and as such, Cheong-Ha hurriedly decides to get involved in the Selection Process.
Of course, Cheong-Ha hurriedly heads home to tell her parents the good news but the Queen Dowager is there already and overhears her excitedly chirping about being the Princess. This puts Hwa-Ryeong in a difficult position when she finds out her ties to Minister Yoon, knowing that she could be compromised.
Cheong-Ha is clever though and although she agrees to stay by Dowager’s side, she has already pledged herself to do right by the crown and Hwa-Ryeong. As for the latter, she speaks to Seongnam and warns that even now, 20 years after they’ve come into power, there are still rebels out there looking to take them down. And we know that comes in the form of Uiseong and the Dowager.
The death of Seo Ham-Deok raises suspicions across the palace as the King remains dead-set on finding out if he had any accomplices. Given the desire to find out who all the rebels are, Hwa-Ryeong needs to find Physician Kwon to discover what really happened to the Crown Prince. However, Consort Hwang gets there first, meeting him outside and questioning the guy around what poison he used.
The next day, the Crown Princess ceremony gets underway, with Dowager deciding to pick the worst candidate for Seongnam. The King and Hwa-Ryeong are both in attendance and Cheong-Ha is eventually selected as the winner.
When Seongnam finds out, he narrows his gaze and prepares himself, knowing that “one of Dowager’s girls” has become his Crown Princess. However, Hwa-Ryeong is the one who’s got there first and she actually met Cheong-Ha’s parents, entering a promise that they become the shield for the other’s child.
Hwa-Ryeong does just that, teaching the new Crown Princess everything she needs to know, including a summary of texts, how to walk diligently and offering valuable tricks of the trade. Off the back of this, the Prince and Princess meet each other at the ceremony, where Seongnam obviously recognizes her from their fated encounters in the past. However, Seongnam’s demeanour sours, especially when they’re alone, believing her to be compromised. In fact, instead of consummating the marriage, he heads out in the middle of the night.
As the episode closes out, Courtesan Cho-Wol shows up looking for the Prince, cradling a baby. When Hwa-Ryeong finds out, she’s shocked.
The Episode Review
So it seems like Hwa-Ryeong has her hands full with her children, especially with Cho-Wol showing up at the end there; that’s likely to cause all sorts of drama in next week’s double bill of episodes!
However, most of this episode is preoccupied with the drama involving the Crown Prince and the Crown Princess. It’s perhaps fated that Cheong-Ha would be the one to rise up and become the Princess, but at the same time it’s also wracked in drama and unfortunate circumstances, especially as Seongnam believes her to be compromised and working with Dowager.
Hwa-Ryeong teaching Cheong-Ha how to be the noble Crown Princess is a definite highlight in this episode, while Seongnam rising to the challenge shows just why he’s the best candidate to become the Crown Prince.
Another good episode rounds out this week’s double-bill though, leaving the door wide open for where this may go next.