How old is Alicent Hightower when she marries Viserys and does she have a child?

Another marriage of convenience in the Thronesverse

a still of Alicent Hightower bowing to her future husband King Viserys
(Image credit: HBO/Warner Media/Future)

Episode 2 of House of the Dragon dropped a bombshell that will see Alicent Hightower and her life changed forever.

Much like it's predecessor Game of Thrones, viewers are quickly learning that it's every man for himself in the new House of the Dragon universe. Whether you're a the current Iron Throne inhabitant from House of Targaryen with a huge number of dragons in tow, an embittered and 'snakey' rival from House Velaryon, or a fairly gruesome-looking crab feeder looking to conquer the Stepstones.

Another character set to make their moves and better their standing this series is that of Alicent Hightower, daughter to the King's hand. Originally a treasured friend of Princess Rhaenyra, audiences are set to see her marry Viserys - in a plot heavily orchestrated by her father Ser Otto. And many want to know more about the young Queen and what the future holds for this so-called 'Cersei 2.0'.

How old is Alicent Hightower when she marries Viserys?

Born in 88 AC, Alicent Hightower is 18-years-old when she marries King Viserys I Targaryen in 106 AC. In House of the Dragon, Ser Otto Hightower's daughter is 14 when Viserys first wife Aemma dies. The two develop a close and secret friendship in the four years after, culminating in their nuptials.

Her father Otto, in his role as Hand of the King (played by House of the Dragon cast member Rhys Ifans) is the orchestrator of such union. Audience members see Otto tell Alicent in a scene from episode one to go to the King and comfort him following Aemma's death. 

The meeting at first appears awkward - due to the age difference and her friendship with the king's daughter Princess Rhaenyra. However, having also just lost her mother, Alicent and Viserys form an unlikely bond over their shared grief.

Emily Carey who plays the young Alicent explains that her character initially goes to Viserys “out of kindness". Adding: "She doesn’t go intentionally to court the King. She cares, and she has seen her father go through the same grief that Viserys is going through."

Breaking down their relationship, she tells Collider that for King Viserys it's about "having someone who genuinely cares without having an ulterior motive of trying to get closer to him. And for Alicent, it’s just someone to be with where she feels comfortable and not overlooked."

Why does King Viserys marry Alicent?

King Viserys marries Alicent to strengthen his reign over the Seven Kingdoms and to continue the Targaryen blood line. After Aemma's death, the council put pressure on him to remarry for these reasons - and it is thought he chooses Alicent because of their growing friendship.

Council member Corlys Velaryon initially proposes a match between Viserys and his 12-year-old daughter Laena. Their potential union is seen as an advantageous one - drawing the line under any ill-feeling that remains from when Viserys was chosen over his female cousin Rhaenys Targaryen (Corlys's wife) as the previous King's successor. Viserys was selected by the lords of Westeros to succeed the Old King, Jaehaerys Targaryen, at the Great Council at Harrenhal.

a still of Viserys and Laena from House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO/Warner Media)

However, King Viserys decides to marry Alicent and not Laena. Being older, she is better prepared to produce heirs and is already familiar with Viserys. The official HBO website also describes Alicent as being "noted for her surpassing beauty and courtly intuition" which could have also led the decision to going in her favour. 

Actress Emily Carey finds the pairing of Alicent and Viserys mutually beneficial in House of the Dragon. Speaking to EW on the West of Westeros podcast, she said: "They find this emotional vulnerability with one another that I don't think they really find with anyone else. There's an underlying guilt from both sides, especially when it comes to the point of marriage... But I think they bring out a softness in one another."

a still of King Viserys looking at Alicent Hightower from House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO/Warner Media)

Does Alicent Hightower have a child?

Yes, Alicent Hightower goes on to have four children with King Viserys - sons Aegon, Aemond and Daeron, plus daughter Helaena. Eldest child Aegon - born a year after his parents wed - is the first-born son of the king and as such proves to be problematic to named heir Rhaenyra Targaryen.

After her marriage to Viserys, Alicent Hightower technically becomes step-mother to Rhaenyra too, which doesn't bode well for their long-standing friendship.

Episode 3 of House of the Dragon will see Alicent become pregnant and later give birth to son Aegon. Audiences can get a sneak peak of the boy in the episode 3 teaser - and as is customary with Targaryens - it shows young Aegon with a crop of striking white blonde hair.

Who plays Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon?

Young Alicent - Emily Carey

a still of Emily Carey as a young Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO/Warner Media)

Emily Carey plays the young Alicent in House of the Dragon. The 19-year-old's former acting credits include BBC show Casualty and playing the character Mika Cavanaugh in Netflix's Get Even.

Commenting on the marriage of her character Alicent and Viserys, she told EW: "It changes one of the branches of the show, if that makes sense. It pushes things in a different direction. And for my character it's, of course, a massive turn."

She also shared hilarious details on how she bonded with actor Paddy Considine (who plays Viserys) behind the scenes. Despite being 17 at the time of filming (and Paddy - 46-years-old) the two found a common interest:

"Paddy is a massive Drag Race fan, and so am I," Carey said. "So I'd come into set and be like, 'Hey, Paddy, did you watch the new episode of All Stars?' He'd be like, 'Oh my God, yes! Let's talk about it.' And so that's how we'd start every morning."

Adult Alicent - Olivia Cooke

a still of Olivia Cooke as Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon

(Image credit: HBO/Warner Media)

28-year-old Olivia Cooke takes on the role of the older Alicent Hightower in House of the Dragon. The British actress previously rose to prominence as Becky Sharp in the TV adaptation of Vanity Fair, plus the A&E drama thriller Bates Motel.

Olivia is set to make her debut as Queen Alicent in episode 3 of the HBO series. In an interview with American Vogue, she shared what appealed her to the role: "I’m such a staunch feminist, and to play someone who—to put it mildly—believes in tradition and has been molded and groomed by her father to be a pawn in his political ambitions was really interesting," she said.

Olivia added:  "Embarking on something like this that already has such a legacy, there’s a huge amount of pressure when taking the role, and I didn’t take that lightly. Everyone’s gonna have an opinion about absolutely every single detail of House of the Dragon, but ultimately it’s not my monkey. I know that I’ve done my part to the best that I can do, and that’s the most important thing."

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Emily Stedman
Features Editor

Emily Stedman is the former Features Editor for GoodTo covering all things TV, entertainment, royal, lifestyle, health and wellbeing. Boasting an encyclopaedic knowledge on all things TV, celebrity and royals, career highlights include working at HELLO! Magazine and as a royal researcher to Diana biographer Andrew Morton on his book Meghan: A Hollywood Princess. In her spare time, Emily can be found eating her way around London, swimming at her local Lido or curled up on the sofa binging the next best Netflix show.