The Royals just made its much-anticipated return to TV’s Sunday night lineup, and last night's Season 2 premiere was worth the wait. The episode picked up two months after the events that took place in last May’s Season 1 finale, and the monarchy is still recovering from King Simon’s death and the shocking revelation that Princess Eleanor (Alexandra Park) and Prince Liam (William Moseley) aren’t the king’s biological children.
InStyle caught up with the stars of the E! drama last week in New York City, and they shared their thoughts on Season 2, which begins with the royal family attending Liam’s polo match. It seems that Queen Helena (Elizabeth Hurley) and her kids are putting on a united front—although we soon learn that they only appear to be back on good terms after Eleanor bowed down (literally) to the newly-appointed king, her conniving uncle, Cyrus (Jake Maskall). But don’t be fooled! Eleanor has no interest in family bonding. She’s just determined to do whatever it takes to find out who murdered her father and her older brother, Robert. “Eleanor is not coping very well,” said Park. “She’s using her classic Eleanor coping mechanism, which is blocking everything out.”
That means the princess, whose title, as well as her brother Liam’s, has been reinstated by Cyrus, is back to her old wild ways. “She’s partying a lot and self-destructing quite a bit,” said Park. “She’s not in a very good place in the beginning of Season 2. She was very close to her father and brother who are gone now, and in terms of identity, she doesn’t really know who she is.” While Eleanor is lashing out, her former fling and bodyguard, Jasper (Tom Austen), is determined to keep her safe. He secretly follows her, despite Eleanor’s pleas for him to leave her alone. According to Austen, Jasper won’t be backing down anytime soon. “At the end of last season, Jasper was dismissed, but that doesn’t mean an awful lot to him,” said Austen. “Now, the whole palace has been on lockdown, and everything has gone wrong. So he’s sticking around to keep an eye on things and make sure everything goes smoothly and everyone stays safe.”
The princess is clearly unhappy about Jasper’s devotion; he did sleep with her mother last season, after all. But he continues to play the part of Eleanor’s “body-guardian angel,” and she may secretly enjoy his loyalty. “Deep down, I think she would prefer he be there than the alternative,” said Park. “She won’t admit to it, but I think the audience will be able to tell that deep down, she likes having him there.” There is one royal who does want Jasper around: Prince Liam. Eleanor’s brother enlists Jasper to help him figure out the meaning of the mysterious Domino symbol that keeps showing up everywhere. “It’s a difficult time for Liam,” Moseley said. “Even though Eleanor and Liam found out that they weren’t the children of their father, I think some part of them doesn’t believe it. They think it’s all a lie and a scam—rightfully so. Liam is about to find out who killed his father, and it’s sort of an epic revenge story for him.”
But unlike last season, Liam doesn’t have his girlfriend, Ophelia, by his side to help him through hard times. “He had to choose his love or his family after his father was murdered, and Ophelia was in the firing line at one point," said Moseley. "I think he wanted to get her out of the way, and sadly that resulted in them being apart.” Still, there’s hope for a reunion. “I think he would love to get back together with her,” said Moseley. “But will the stars align? I can’t answer that question right now.”
According to Hurley, the stars certainly haven't aligned for the current reigning monarchs. “We have a lot of fun and friction between our two characters,” she said. “[Helena has] helped [Cyrus] become the king of England, and without [her] he wouldn’t be there. So we were allies, but right from the get-go we aren’t happy.” Don't expect the queen to allow herself to suffer for long. “She’s plotting,” said Hurley. “Maybe she has regrets. [Cyrus] is full of himself—he’s got his beautiful face on the currency, and he’s the king of England. He’s in seventh heaven.” But not everything is going smoothly for Cyrus. “The king is gone, and he was the lynchpin and he kept everything together,” said Maskall. “Now, it’s all just spiraling out of control.”
Of course, Cyrus is determined to get every perk that comes with ruling the kingdom—so he decides to eat a swan. “The swan is protected by the crown in England, and the only person that can eat swan is the reigning monarch,” explained Hurley. “Anybody else is imprisoned [for doing it].” Added Maskall, “He’s wicked, he’s arrogant, he’s vain—and he knows it."
Meanwhile, Cyrus is about to pass on his genes once again—unbeknownst to everyone in the palace. He’s impregnated one of the staff's maids, and if his relationship with his two grown daughters has taught us anything, it’s that Cyrus isn’t exactly cut out for the dad role. “He’s not the best parent, really,” said Maskall. “He’s quite vile to [his daughters], and he’s so vain and selfish that it’s all about him. But now he’s king, so if a baby boy is to be produced, then suddenly that’s another [person] in the mix [who can be] the heir.”
Of course, top-notch parenting skills aren’t commonplace on The Royals. At the end of last night's episode, Joan Collins returned to play her role as the queen's mother, just in time to see the palace’s lawn aflame in none other than the shape of the Domino symbol. Collins’s character cryptically says to Helena, “We kill one of theirs, they kill two of ours,” before asking what the queen plans to do about it. Whoever "they" are, we're pretty sure they just declared war on the queen—and you'd better believe she's not going down without a fight.
The Royals airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on E!