The way Aemond portrayed himself in the 8th and 9th episodes of “House of the Dragon” reminded us of a formidable conqueror whom we often referred to as the “Rogue Prince.” They had the same hairstyle, they had the same demeanor, and they often dressed alike, yet there was something very prominent that differentiated the two fierce combatants. Sometimes, when you are not able to assess the personality of a person completely, you look into the associations and bonds they share with others in an attempt to get to know them better. Both Daemon and Aemond had elder brothers who sat or were going to sit on the Iron Throne. Both the elder brothers were reluctant to become the ruler of the Seven Kingdoms. Daemon and Aemond knew that they would have been better rulers, but they still realized that they wouldn’t ever get the opportunity to sit on the Iron Throne. So, let’s analyze the kind of relationship Daemon had with Viserys and the bond that Aemond shared with his brother Aegon. Let’s try to understand if there was any difference in the relationship that the two younger brothers shared with their respective older ones.
Daemon was often referred to as the Rogue Prince, but it becomes very essential to pinpoint exactly what we mean by that. It is because the word “rogue” could have different connotations for different people. Some would describe Daemon as an “amusingly mischievous” person, while some might think that he was out and out evil. Some might find strains of honor embedded deep inside his subconscious, while others might find him an absolute degenerate. Daemon was extremely loyal to his house. He was also morally corrupt and an extremely self-indulgent human being. He indulged in all sorts of sinful activities, so much so that he was sometimes referred to as “Lord Flea Bottom.” But surprisingly, even after possessing traits that were the personification of debauchery, he had a side to him that was affectionate, caring, and loyal. Daemon was never bound by duty. He didn’t have any reverence for the position anybody held. He didn’t respect the Iron Throne but the person sitting on it. He was loyal to his brother, Viserys Targaryen. Daemon had always aspired to become the Hand of the King. He was blamed for being treacherous, but not even once did the thought cross his mind to usurp his brother’s position. We don’t imply that he didn’t want to be king, but he didn’t want to achieve that by betraying his own brother. Now it becomes very important to establish that if anybody else had sat on the Iron Throne, Daemon would have waged war and seized power without even thinking twice. It could be said that Daemon was loyal to those few people he loved rather than being bound by an ethical responsibility. He didn’t care what was right and what was wrong. For him, a situation was either in favor of his loved ones or against them. If it was against them, Daemon didn’t have any scruples in removing the obstacle, without even thinking twice about the repercussions it would have.
There are a couple of defining moments that corroborate this fact for us. When Daemon was beaten and ordered to leave King’s Landing by Viserys, he was hurt. It was not because his brother didn’t find him deserving but because he chose to trust others more than him. Maybe Rhaenyra knew him better than Viserys. Rhaenyra knew that her uncle would never harm her. This belief led her to Dragonstone in the second episode of “House of the Dragon” to bring back the dragon’s egg that Daemon had taken. Had it been only Criston Cole and Otto Hightower, who would have gone to Dragonstone, blood would have definitely been spilled. But when Rhaenyra came, it felt like the Rogue Prince surrendered because he didn’t want to fight one of his own. In the 8th episode of House of the Dragon, we saw Daemon placing the fallen crown of his elder brother back on his head. It was a symbolic gesture that his loyalty was purely out of the love and affection he had for his elder brother. Daemon did it with so much respect that you almost forget for a moment that he was the same man who had murdered his first wife in cold blood. Such was the dichotomy of Daemon Targaryen.
Aemond was also very protective of his family, but his motivations were very different from those of Daemon. Aemond didn’t know the meaning of the word “love.” He had a very strong sense of duty. He felt bound by it. He was the kind of person who would do anything for the good of the realm. We saw him telling his elder brother that he would willingly marry their sister, Helaena, if it was for the betterment of the kingdom. Aegon, on the other hand, said that he wouldn’t want to do that as he had nothing in common with her. Now all these things didn’t make sense to Aemond. He didn’t care if he was attracted to the person or not. It didn’t matter if they had nothing in common. He only indulged in those acts that fueled his political agenda and strengthened the position of his house. He always wanted to be the king. He believed that he was the most deserving candidate among all his competitors. But he was bound by duty. It was the law of the land that the elder born sat on the Iron Throne. Unlike Daemon, love for his elder brother wasn’t the reason he restrained his desires. We highly doubt if he even had any affection towards Aegon, whom he considered to be worthless. Aemond was a conscientious individual, and he wanted to uphold his principles at any cost. His sense of duty was the only thing that was stopping him from removing his brother from his way and becoming the king. Aemond expressed his desires to Criston Cole when they went to search for Aegon. Aemond said that he despised the fact that even when he was more capable than his elder brother in every respect, he wouldn’t get to sit on the Iron Throne.
People might find a lot of similarities between the two Targaryen princes, but in reality, they had quite contrasting sensibilities. Their agendas and their motives were very different from one another. One was bound by duty, and the other by love. One was loyal to the person, and the other had respect for the title that the person held. One thought only about the betterment of the kingdom, and the other only thought about keeping his loved ones out of harm’s way. Eventually, there would come a time when the Rogue Prince would stand in front of his arch-nemesis. It would be the battle of the century when Vhagar would go against Caraxes and duty would go against love. The fate of King’s Landing would depend upon that battle, and it would be interesting to see how far these power-wielders would be willing to go to protect their interests.