A really strong installment that excitingly confirms the new Crown Prince.
We recap the Netflix K-Drama series Under the Queen’s Umbrella season 1, episode 11, which contains spoilers.
It did come as a slight surprise that the next Crown Prince was decided in this episode of Under the Queen’s Umbrella, but perhaps it is indicative of the show’s dedication to making sure no storyline runs too long. It wasn’t the most surprising of outcomes, but the process to get to this point was delivered with real finesse. From here, it’ll be intriguing to see how things unravel with Seongnam taking on newfound responsibility.
Under the Queen’s Umbrella season 1, episode 11 recap
As the King commences the final portion of the taekhyeon, tasking the prospective Crown Princes with asking him what they would ask candidates if they were on the throne, he finds an interesting criticism through Seongnam. Some people take issue with Uichang (described as an organisation that stored excess grains for relief), believing it actually causes more suffering than benefit due to its corrupt nature. As such, the King requests the three men sat in front of him discuss “what caused the degeneration of Uichang,” and think of ways to improve the situation.
Next, Consort Hwang and Won-hyeong worry about the additional material that will be used in the final assessment, understanding it means the King is still privately evaluating candidates. Elsewhere, the Queen is calm despite hearing her son is ahead in the taekhyeon, mostly because of her concern with how people know this information even though the scholars are not meant to have contact with others. Queen Dowager Cho, meanwhile, is enraged, causing Minister Yoon to vow he will “try to persuade the fathers of the scholars who have remained neutral” for the sake of Prince Bogeom.
First, Soo-gwang meets with the Ijojeongrang (a man with control over the three censorate offices, and the Section Chief of the ministry of personnel), then other officials, all for the purpose of wooing them in exchange for the support of Prince Bogeom. After all, lofty promises of hearing “good news when there are personnel changes” is tempting for people without much sway currently.
Upon hearing of this, Chief State Councillor Won-hyeong springs into action. He threatens those who could betray him, firm in his belief this will ultimately benefit Prince Uiseong. Naturally, all information quickly ends up being fed back to the Queen, who decides to “deliberately” let her adversaries compete directly with each other. “If the votes are split between Prince Uiseong and Prince Bogeom, Grand Prince Seongnam may benefit,” she theorises. Nevertheless, Hwa-ryeong is concerned over the secret communication going on around the evaluation, noting the imminent “crisis” of scholarly opinions fluctuating. “The Queen Dowager will become quite busy,” the Queen then bluntly states.
Suddenly, a scholar feigning illness reports bad news to Consort Hwang. Prince Uiseong is falling behind in the taekhyeon thanks to his records of assault (as well as the cover-up attempt) being exposed, causing the concubine to resort to visiting the Queen Dowager. Here, she, alongside Won-hyeong, asks the elder for her support of Uiseong, terrified someone else may become the new Crown Prince. “I would rather not,” Cho replies, before teasing she will eventually have to pick between Prince Uiseong and Prince Bogeom to ensure Grand Prince Seongnam doesn’t become heir to the throne.
However, Queen Dowager Cho soon makes her mind up, and requests directly to Consort Tae and her son that they drop out of the taekhyeon. Irritated, the concubine reminds the elder of her promise to support Bogeom, only to receive the harsh comment that this was done, “but now I have to bring him down.” “If you drop out now, I will at least save your lives,” Cho says, later spitefully explaining that she never actually considered Bogeom as a prospective Crown Prince, but rather a tool to elevate Uiseong. Thus, the son of Consort Tae does indeed decide to drop out.
After a flashback shows Consort Hwang promised Queen Dowager Cho she would become Queen if she supported Uiseong, we watch as Hwa-ryeong receives word of what has happened in the taekhyeon. Her Majesty remains calm in the face of this news, though declares she will not accept Grand Prince Seongnam losing in such a manner. Therefore, the Queen intervenes in the scholarly activities to find evidence of misconduct, retrieving numerous secretive notes of corruption, then exposing them. Following that, Hwa-ryeong rues that the scholars are “selling off” their chance to become masters, swayed by pieces of paper instead of upholding the trust bestowed on them.
Once the Queen gives the scholars a final chance to preserve integrity, burning the secret messages on her way out of the building, she lies to the King, apologising for apparently being unable to find any evidence. His Majesty is well aware of what went on, however, while those presiding over the taekhyeon officially cut contact with those outside the chamber until a decision is reached.
In the midst of Seongnam and Uiseong’s final debate, Bogeom comes to the Queen upon her request. Her Majesty informs the Prince that his mother will be punished, which we see is by relegating her from consort to court maid. “You deserve to receive capital punishment, but I am merely demoting you because you are the mother of Prince Bogeom,” the Queen explains. Subsequent scenes show how harshly Tae is now treated, particularly given nobody can offer her even the slightest bit of help.
In time, the former Consort Tae ends up falling asleep on the job. Yet when she wakes up, the Queen is kind, embracing apologies and giving advice on a mother’s duty to make sure their child walks down safe paths. A flashback shows that Hwa-ryeong gave similar advice on purity to Bogeom, asking him to reflect on how he tried to become the Crown Prince. That, and the Queen wants the son of Consort Tae to continue assisting the next Crown Prince to prove his worth. “It is alright to show that you are in pain,” Her Majesty later says, kindly helping Bogeom understand his life better during their open conversation on wellbeing.
After Consort Tae emotionally reconciles with her weeping son, the Queen admits the palace would be boring without the quirky concubine and that she makes her smile. Elsewhere, Queen Dowager Cho is annoyed that the scholars had an attitude shift when spoken to by Her Majesty, though remains determined to have Prince Uiseong become the next Crown Prince. However, Minister Yoon is more concerned over the elder’s manipulation of Prince Bogeom’s ambitions, believing he might also end up betrayed when deemed to be no longer useful. With that being said, Cho reassures the official that he is different, given his daughter (who we soon watch wax lyrical about Grand Prince Seongnam’s affection for her) will become the next Crown Princess.
Next, the evaluations made by the scholars during the taekhyeon’s final assessment are revealed by the King. Or at least they are meant to be, until Won-hyeong interrupts proceedings to allege Grand Prince Seongnam is not of royal blood. So, at the request of other officials, His Majesty sets out to clear up the rumours. Yet the process is murky, as we see Consort Hwang has interfered in the blood collecting test by adding venom to ensure it does not blend.
Fortunately, the Queen is privy to the tampering, and subsequently proves the water was messed with by testing the blood of Won-hyeong and his daughter, Consort Hwang. As such, Hwa-ryeong enlists Queen Dowager Cho to inspect the ears of her grandchildren to spot a paternity-proving hereditary ear bone characteristic, a task which appears to definitively show Grand Prince Seongnam is of royal blood.
At the culmination of this, the Queen clarifies why Seongnam had to spend time outside the palace in his childhood (it was due to rumours of his “indecent conception” during the mourning period for the previous King), and accepts that her lack of an earlier explanation led to what happened today. “The only reason I condoned this absurd test is to put an end to the controversy caused by a false rumour,” His Majesty then details, before adding a note that any further doubts on his son’s origins will be treated as slander.
Later, the Queen is rebuffed in her attempts to apologise to Grand Prince Seongnam, because he doesn’t believe there is reason for one. “Look at me now. Did I not turn out much better than the naïve princes who grew up sheltered in the palace?” he smilingly adds. Meanwhile, the King officially announces Grand Prince Seongnam as the new Crown Prince.
Under the Queen’s Umbrella season 1, episode 11 ending
Frustrated, Won-hyeong cannot believe his family “lost the crown” to Grand Prince Seongnam. Yet Uiseong is unphased, pointing out that not every Crown Prince becomes the King, then asking his allies to bring his rival down, “with whatever means you can.” Hwang obliges, believing what was done once can be done again. Still, there is one sticking point. Seo Ham-deok must be dealt with, as Uiseong notes him as a threat to his position due to his awareness of the royal’s act of murder. A short time later, we see the shady pseudo-monk is already being visited by Physician Kwon.
Elsewhere, the Queen reflects on her deceased son while collecting the uniform of the Crown Prince to give to Seongnam. “I think I have kept the promise I made to you to some extent,” she narrates, kickstarting preparations for the late royal’s room to be cleared. Following that, we watch the new Crown Prince receive his updated clothes, and the episode ends with a shot of his palpably determined look.
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