Under the Queen’s Umbrella season 1 ending explained – what happened in the finale?

By Nathan Sartain
Published: December 4, 2022
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A somewhat surprisingly sentimental finale that wraps things up seamlessly and without clutter.

We recap the Netflix K-Drama series Under the Queen’s Umbrella season 1, episode 16 (finale), which contains spoilers and explains the ending.

Perhaps surprisingly, the finale of Under the Queen’s Umbrella ramped up the poignancy, choosing to focus on both the finishing off of the constant fighting in the kingdom and the positive after-effects. It was a good strategy, with the peaceful ending a refreshing change of pace from the breakneck drama of the last few weeks, and it also allowed us to get resolutions to every character’s story arcs. This was a show which really built-in quality as it went on and ensured it went out with a bang, albeit a far more subdued, tranquil one than expected.

Under the Queen’s Umbrella season 1, episode 16 recap – the finale

As the King shakily faces requests to execute Prince Uiseong (as well as Yoo Sang-uk and the Deposed Queen Yoon) for their part in the planned rebellion against him, Hwa-ryeong delivers the news of Ik-hyeon’s death to his mother. “Your safety is also in danger now,” the Queen states, before she hears the promised favor required of her by Yoon is for Uiseong to be allowed to live. Later, we see Queen Dowager Cho failing to convince the King to “destroy” anything in his way (like the son of Ik-hyeon), with His Majesty wanting to no longer “taint” his throne with blood. Still, the elder is brittle in her response, reminding her son that any exposing of how he got to lead the kingdom will simply mean he is denying his own legitimacy.

Following the advice of Park Gyeong-u, His Majesty looks to “let go of the past” in favor of becoming a sage King. As such, he is ending investigations into the death of the late Crown Prince, a difficult decision the Queen is sympathetic towards when Seongnam expresses his dissatisfaction. With that being said, Her Majesty is still concerned with disallowing the room for tragedy to repeat, meaning she will attempt to “pave” the way for the King to understand the rationale she and her son are subscribing to. Meanwhile, Queen Dowager Cho is planning to “sway” Hwa-ryeong into “bending the King’s will” by revealing the weaknesses of her children.

After the Queen Dowager’s sneaky plan for the Crown Princess to unknowingly miscarry looks to have been successfully carried out, we cut to Grand Prince Muan. Here, the usually clumsy royal is forced to protect his family when his secret child is revealed to the King by his grandmother, so he expresses his desire to marry Cho-wol despite her low-born status, unwilling to abandon who he loves. The King is willing to consider this marriage, even if it would be unprecedented.

When the Queen Dowager wants to take things further and let the King know of the Crown Princess’s pregnancy woes, we see the Queen has planned ahead. She summons Physician Song into the room and watches him explain how he didn’t use ingredients given to him by Cho in Cheong-ha‘s heart medicine so she can keep her fetus unharmed. Therefore, the Queen Dowager is left irate, though still confident enough to declare herself a winner in front of Hwa-ryeong. “I will stop you,” the elder then shouts when the Queen responds with her own assurances about helping His Majesty reach the right decision in regard to revealing the truth about what happened to Crown Prince Taein. Nevertheless, Hwa-ryeong is convinced her method is the correct one to protect her husband.

With Yoo Sang-uk persuaded to testify about Crown Prince Taein’s poisoning, the Queen tries to calmly advise the King. “Even if everything in the past is exposed, that will never change the fact that you have been a sage king,” she explains, gifting him the document that, along with the gajangsacho, can reveal the hidden truths of 20 years ago if needed. Once more, Hwa-ryeong requests the wrongs of the past are corrected, those who have been wronged are reinstated, and the truth is recorded. “This is the last way I can protect you, Your Majesty, and the way we can protect the children our Crown Prince left behind,” the Queen tearily adds, wanting her husband to properly put history behind him.

Following a night of reflection, the King informs his mother he will reveal the truth, rising to her bitter requests for evidence with the blunt confirmation of the fact he watched what happened to Crown Prince Taein with his own eyes. “I will put an end to this tragedy which you have begun,” he says, finally requesting the Queen Dowager ceases with her actions, ready to punish her for her crimes. Later, the suddenly reflective elder is greeted for the final time by Court Lady Shin, who thanks her for protecting her family. Concurrently, the King carries out the requests of his Queen in correcting historic wrongs, despite initial backlash from the royal court.

After Crown Prince Seongnam hears from Yoo Sang-uk that the prescription he gave his brother was not incorrect, the heir to the throne talks with his mother. The Queen tells him he has done enough and that it’s time for the pair to “let him (the late Crown Prince) go.” Then, His Grand Heir returns to the palace, completing all that was needed to be done in avenging the passing of Hwa-ryeong’s son.

As the King reinstates the deposed Queen Yoon, and declares Queen Dowager Cho to be isolated in her quarters, we watch the news of the elder’s unforeseen death (movingly, she passed away wearing her previous royal attire as Her Majesty) spread across the Kingdom. Court Lady Nam is devastated, the Queen poignant in her musings on the “wicked” person, and His Majesty evidently downcast.

Three months later, things appears to be in a far brighter place. The Queen’s concubines are all content, the Crown Prince and Princess are developing their relationship, and Consort Hwang is finding a way to survive alongside Prince Uiseong (though the pair are under surveillance, unable to be trusted). But there is still an air of tension, with Ik-hyeon’s family shadows of their formerly determined selves, and the reinstated Yoon struggling to get through each day without buckets of tears.

While Grand Prince Muan is requesting advice from the concubines on raising his “genius” child A-ra, Prince Bogeom is finding ways to meet with his mother, and Prince Simso is able to share news of his partner’s pregnancy with Consort Ko. It’s clear those in the palace are happy, particularly when things like the Queen continuing her work in having the women of the kingdom protected (the Crown Princess is happily enlisted to assist with this too) are still ongoing. Again though, not everything is quite right, as proven by the fact Grand Prince Gyeseong’s paintings always interestingly include birds that have not yet taken flight.

After Crown Prince Seongnam wishes on a shooting star with his wife, we watch Grand Prince Gyeseong get the confidence to tell his mother he wants to leave the palace. “The day you took me beyond the palace walls was the happiest day of my life,” he says, wanting to live as his true self from now on. The Queen asks her son to reconsider, but she is reassured her reliable child will take care of himself as he explores his new beginnings. The next day, Grand Prince Gyeseong sees off his brothers, who warmly embrace him upon his official exit.

Under the Queen’s Umbrella season 1, episode 16 ending

In the midst of the final moments of tenderness, with the Crown Prince playing with His Grand Heir, and the Crown Princess explaining her want of a son (and her husband’s want of a daughter), the Queen is summoned to a roof. There, Grand Prince Ilyeong is convinced he will be able to fly, a declaration clearly not agreed to by his mother. Following that, we watch the Queen stroll around the kingdom, protected from the rain by the Crown Prince as she reflects on her duties. Then, when she repays the favor by shielding His Grand Heir, the episode, and series, come to an end.

What did you think of Under the Queen’s Umbrella season 1, episode 16 (finale), and the ending? Comment below.

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