English royals are played by actors of Norwegian descent in the CW’s Reign
The CW series Reign explores the life of Mary Queen of Scots (1542-1587) with sumptuous costumes, tinged with a modern edge. It is based on historical characters but is certainly not a documentary. It is often bawdy, as addictive as reality TV, and entertaining.
Its cast is quite good-looking, and this is certainly true of the actor who plays France’s King Francis II, the first husband of Queen Mary. The royals were engaged way before either of them had hit a double-digit age.
The role of this pretty king is played by Toby Regbo, who carries the map of Norway on his face. Regbo was born in London, England, but his father is of Norwegian origin. His family name was Hanson, but one of his forefathers changed it.
Regbo’s character is usually kind and sensitive, but not beyond killing his own mad father. (Not historically correct, but offering a lot of drama for the viewer and angst for the son.) Unfortunately, Francis was killed off or died from illness, actually a combination of both, this fall. This popular character’s demise was non-negotiable, as the real King Francis died a month before he was to reach the tender age of 17.
But have no fear, for we Norwegians have another highborn character to represent us and she is none other than Queen Elizabeth. She is played by Canadian actress Rachel Skarsten, whose father is from Norway. She first appeared in the finale of season two and has become a pivotal character in season three, playing a cat and mouse game with Mary. This can only intensify with Regbo’s demise in episode five, which aired on November 13.
Skarsten plays Elizabeth like an intelligent, calculating, and willful vixen, who will not be ruled by a man or men. She is devilish, beguiling, and used to getting what she wants. For instance, she appoints her lover’s wife Keeper of the Swans, which requires the woman to be at court. She does this to lure the man she loves, Lord Robert Dudley, closer to her, as his husbandly duties will ensure that he will have to be near his wife some of the time. The close relationship between Elizabeth and Dudley is straight out of the history books, where he is called her “favorite.”
With Francis dead, Mary is no longer Queen of France. Her mother, who has served as Regent of Scotland in her daughter’s name has also recently passed, so Mary’s Scottish crown is also at risk. Elizabeth is sharpening her claws. If you’d like to watch the series from the beginning, you can tune in on Hulu or Netflix. Skarsten’s Elizabeth and Regbo’s Francis are certainly worth watching.
This article originally appeared in the Jan. 15, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.