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"People love you. They love you because you're kind to them. They want to be near you."
―Loras Tyrell to Renly Baratheon.[src]

Renly Baratheon and Loras Tyrell are secret lovers who have been in a stable romantic relationship for many years prior to the beginning of Season 1. Renly Baratheon is the youngest brother of King Robert Baratheon and serves on his brother's Small Council as Master of Laws, and Loras Tyrell, the heir to Highgarden, is one of the most admired knights in Westeros.

History

Background

During the time of Robert's Rebellion, there was conflict between House Baratheon and House Tyrell due to House Tyrell’s initial continuing support for House Targaryen; however, following the downfall of the Targaryens, the Tyrells swore loyalty to the new king, Robert, and were forgiven by him.[1] Both Renly and Loras were children at the time of the rebellion and too young to be directly involved, so the past tensions between their houses had no bearing on the relationship which developed between them later in life. As they grew up, they got to know each other when Loras served as Renly's squire, and eventually they fell in love. By the time the series begins they have been lovers for a number of years, and Loras spends much of his time in King's Landing near to Renly.

Season 1

Renly and Loras are first seen together at the Tournament of the Hand, where Loras is competing. After handing a rose to Sansa, Loras’s gaze moves to meet that of Renly’s, who looks back at him with intensity. Renly is wearing a cloak of green and gold, the colors of House Tyrell, an implicit symbol of support for Loras. During the joust, Littlefinger asks Renly when he will be “having” his friend, and Renly looks around him to see if anyone has heard. When the Mountain attacks Loras, Renly springs to his feet in alarm; he then enthusiastically applauds the Hound after the latter intervenes to save Loras’ life.[2]

Later on, they are shown alone together in Renly’s bedroom, and Loras tells Renly he would be much better suited to being king than Robert. Loras also tells Renly, with tenderness in his voice, that people love him: they love him because he is kind to them and they want to be near him. He undresses Renly and tells him he would be a wonderful king, then begins to make love to him.[2]

After Robert's demise, orchestrated by Cersei, Varys tells Ned Stark that Renly and Loras were seen leaving King's Landing together and heading south.[3] Later, it is stated that Renly has declared himself king, as Loras had previously encouraged him to do.[4]

Season 2

203 Renly Loras in bed

Renly and Loras in bed.

Renly and Loras’s relationship is shown again during Catelyn's visit to Renly in the Stormlands, with Renly now married to Loras's sister Margaery for political reasons, and holding a tournament in which Loras competes against other challengers. When Brienne defeats Loras in the competition and requests to join Renly’s Kingsguard, Loras and Renly share a look and Loras tries to ask Renly not to grant the request, but he does so anyway. Later the two of them are shown kissing and undressing each other in Renly’s tent, passionately at first, but Loras begins to hold back when he is reminded about Brienne’s victory over him at the tournament. Renly realizes that Loras is jealous, and promises to make it up to him, but Loras insists that he go and consummate the marriage to Margaery instead as people are starting to question the relationship. Renly is not happy about the prospect of doing this; however, when he sees Margaery, she tells him that she knows that he and Loras are lovers, and she is entirely relaxed and accepting about the situation. She also offers to bring Loras into their bedroom if Renly needs him there in order to be able to seal the marriage to Margaery.[5]

Renly and Loras’s romance becomes a subject of comment as the War of the Five Kings progresses. The length of their relationship is indicated by an exchange between some Lannister soldiers, who comment that Loras has been "stabbing Renly Baratheon for years", showing it is known to be a long term love affair.[6] When Littlefinger visits Renly’s camp, he makes further comment after observing Loras entering Renly’s tent late at night and looking happy. Littlefinger mentions this to Margaery, who replies that the place of a Kingsguard is by the king’s side. Littlefinger responds by asking Margaery who was by the king’s side on the night of their wedding, and Margaery avoids answering the question, implying that Littlefinger’s assumption that Renly spent his wedding night with Loras instead is correct.[6]

Loras is by Renly's side when Renly meets with Stannis and Melisandre, the day before the two Baratheon armies are due to clash in battle. When the talks between the brothers fail, Loras and Renly ride away together, with Loras looking protectively towards his lover, and wary of the potential danger Stannis is presenting to them.[6]

The next day, before the battle can take place, Renly is murdered, stabbed in the back by a shadow wearing the face of Stannis. Loras is griefstricken at the loss of his lover, staying by Renly’s body after he is found and holding onto his hand, refusing to leave him despite the impending danger of Stannis’s advancing forces. For his deathbed, Renly has also been dressed in the same outfit he wore to support Loras during the Tournament of the Hand. When Littlefinger arrives in the tent, Loras tells him to get out, and threatens him with his sword. He returns to Renly’s bedside and holds his hand again, saying he would have been a great king. Only after much persuasion and pleading from Margaery and Littlefinger does Loras eventually leave, as he realises he will be unable to get revenge on Stannis if he is killed.[7]

In a deleted scene, Loras is shown in mourning and caressing Renly’s suit of armor, expressing regret for encouraging him to be king. It is also made clear he buried Renly himself, but not in his armor, as Loras wants to hold on to it forever. Margaery is sympathetic but says he has to regain his strength because the family needs him. Loras tells Margaery that he loved Renly and breaks down crying in her arms.[8]

Loras at Blackwater 209

Loras after helping to win the Battle of Blackwater and avenging the murder of Renly.

Loras later wears Renly’s armor when he fights at the Battle of the Blackwater, also riding upon a white horse similar to the one Renly rode, and proves himself a warrior by helping to win the battle and save King’s Landing. After the battle is won, Loras has a look of satisfaction as Stannis is dragged away screaming in defeat.[9] In the days following the victory, Loras reluctantly participates in a public display in the Great Hall of the Red Keep, where he is obliged to ask the Lannisters to join the Tyrells through a proposed marriage between Joffrey and Margaery. He says that Margaery is able to marry again as “her husband was taken from us before”, whereupon his voices breaks; his head bows and he is clearly moved by making this reference to Renly. He also says that Margaery remains "innocent", confirming that the marriage between her and Renly was never consummated.[10]

Season 3

Loras and Margaery move in to King’s Landing in preparation for Margaery’s wedding to Joffrey, where they are later joined by their grandmother Olenna Tyrell. When Olenna speaks dismissively of Renly on one occasion, Margaery gently contradicts her and reminds her that her father liked Renly and "so did Loras"[11]. While Margaery thrives on life at court, Loras seems much less happy. The Tyrell family later arranges for him to be betrothed to Sansa, and during a conversation she mentions how keen she is to see Highgarden, as it will also have the benefit of being able to leave "this place", referring to King’s Landing. Loras looks sadly into the distance and replies in a melancholy tone that King's Landing is "the most terrible place there is", implying that he regrets his choice to encourage Renly to take up the throne here.[12] However, when the Lannisters discover the betrothal, Tywin forces Sansa to marry Tyrion, and forces Loras to become betrothed to Cersei instead, leaving all of them unhappy.

Elsewhere, Jaime and Brienne talk about Renly’s love life and Jaime mentions the relationship between Renly and Loras, saying that he doesn’t blame Renly for loving Loras as you don’t get to choose who you love.[11]

Season 4

During Joffrey and Margaery's wedding, a play takes place in which the War of the Five Kings is enacted by dwarfs, one of whom is styled to resemble Renly, and who rides a horse styled to resemble Loras as well. Loras looks on visibly unhappy at the sight of this, as well as hearing comments in the play that Renly is no king, and Renly being called a degenerate by other characters. Directly following a sequence in which the Renly dwarf is repeatedly stabbed from behind by the Stannis dwarf, echoing the events of the real murder, Loras is so upset that he pushes over his chair and storms away from the table. He does not return to the wedding after this event.[13]

Season 5

Cersei’s desire to cause trouble for the Tyrells leads her to hand over power in King’s Landing to the Faith Militant and to inform the High Sparrow of Loras’ sexuality. He is arrested by the Faith and taken to prison.[14] Loras is later given a preliminary trial in which the High Sparrow questions him about his relationship with Renly. When the High Sparrow asks if he ever lay with Renly, Loras says he never did, but cannot look the High Sparrow in the eye, although he is able to look at him directly when denying he lay with other men either, implying that his relationship with Renly was the most important as it is the only one he struggles to deny, while others he does not mind lying about. However, a subsequent testimony from a man Loras had a fling with after Renly’s murder leads the High Sparrow to declare there is enough evidence for a full trial, and Loras is taken back to prison.[15]

Season 6

Loras is tortured in prison to breaking point, and asks Margaery to help him when she visits him in his cell.[16] Margaery manages to manipulate the High Sparrow into freeing her from jail[17], and then sets about negotiating the terms of Loras's own release. Margaery subsequently informs Olenna that Loras' only hope of being released from this situation is to make a public confession at his trial and give up his titles and inheritance.[18] On the morning of his trial, Loras is shown in his cell repeating lines under his breath, suggesting he has been told what to say in advance and is trying to memorize it. As he walks into his trial at the Great Sept of Baelor, he looks with resentment in Margaery’s direction, not knowing she is only faking her own conversion as a way to negotiate the terms of his release. When the High Sparrow asks him if he will stand trial, he says there will be no need as he is going to confess. He admits that he lay with other men, including Renly, and his voice breaks with emotion as he says Renly’s name. Following this, the High Sparrow shoots a piercing glance at Margaery, clearly skeptical that Loras has actually repented at this point due the emotion he shows at mentioning this. Loras’s voice breaking at saying Renly’s name suggests that he has not been brainwashed into believing their relationship was wrong, but rather that the confession is only a performance to try to convince the High Sparrow to let him go. However, shortly afterwards, Loras, Margaery, the High Sparrow, and all others present in the building are killed during the Destruction of the Great Sept of Baelor.[19]

Appearances together

Season One appearances
Winter Is Coming The Kingsroad Lord Snow Cripples, Bastards, and Broken Things The Wolf and the Lion
A Golden Crown You Win or You Die The Pointy End Baelor Fire and Blood
Season Two appearances
The North Remembers The Night Lands What Is Dead May Never Die Garden of Bones The Ghost of Harrenhal
The Old Gods and the New A Man Without Honor The Prince of Winterfell Blackwater Valar Morghulis

Quotes

Loras Tyrell: "Do you know who should be King?"
Renly Baratheon: "Be serious."
Loras Tyrell: "I am. My father could be your bank. I've never fought in a war before, but I'd fight for you."
— Loras pledges his support to Renly and his willingness to fight in battle for him[src]
"Where is it written that power is the sole province of the worst? That thrones are only made for the hated and the feared? You would be a wonderful king."
―Loras persuades Renly that he would make a good ruler[src]
Ned Stark:: "Is Lord Renly joining us?"
Varys: "I fear Lord Renly has left the city. He rode through the old gate an hour before dawn with Ser Loras Tyrell and some 50 retainers. Last seen galloping South in some haste."
— Varys informs Ned that Renly and Loras were seen leaving Kings Landing together[src]
Petyr Baelish: "I did notice your brother entering His Grace's tent just now."
Margaery Tyrell: "The place of a Kingsguard is by the king's side."
Petyr Baelish: "And on the night of your wedding, who was by the king's side then?"
— Littlefinger commenting to Margaery on Loras’ place in Renly’s life[src]
Loras Tyrell: "He would have been a true king, a good king."
Petyr Baelish: "Tell me, Ser Loras, what do you desire most in this world?"
Loras Tyrell: "Revenge."
— Loras mourns Renly and expresses his wish to avenge his murder[src]
"Your Grace, my sister Margaery, her husband was taken from us before... She remains innocent."
―Loras' voice breaks as he mentions the loss of Renly, and confirms that the marriage between him and Margaery was never consummated[src]
High Sparrow: "You were said to be despondent when he died. Witnesses said that you refused to leave his bedside, even as Stannis’ army closed in."
Loras Tyrell: "He was my friend. He was my king."
High Sparrow: "Wasn’t Joffrey your king? He was anointed by the Seven, not Renly."
Loras Tyrell: "I was wrong to support Renly’s claim. I know that. But I was forgiven by Joffrey. I fought for him at the Battle of the Blackwater."
High Sparrow: "Wearing Renly’s armor."
— The High Sparrow cites Loras’ devotion to Renly when questioning him about their relationship[src]

Image gallery

In the books

Loras became Renly's squire some years ago and they have apparently been having an ongoing romantic relationship for some time. Renly and Loras are actually one of the most stable romantic relationships in the entire novel series, based on mutual love and affection, and with no other major complications. Most nobles are in arranged marriages not based on love, though they can find love in them over time - such as Eddard and Catelyn, but their relationship had the complication of Eddard's bastard son Jon Snow. A few nobles sometimes marry for love, but Tywin's wife Joanna died years ago, while Prince Doran Martell and his wife Mellario later fell out of love and separated, after which she moved back to the Free Cities. Jon Snow and Ygritte are romantically involved but they are star-crossed lovers on opposite sides of a war. The only other truly "romantic" relationship in the narrative of reasonable stability is that between Samwell Tarly and Gilly - as much as a relationship between a soldier sworn to a vow of celibacy and a girl pregnant by her own father can be said to be stable (they care about each other, but Samwell is too ashamed about breaking his vows of celibacy to seriously push for a long-term relationship).

The books implied that Loras and Renly were in a homosexual relationship, but didn't outright state it - simply due to the plot mechanics that they aren't POV narrators in the novels. Many of their scenes in the second novel are told from Catelyn's POV narration interacting with them, for example, and logically Catelyn wouldn't be present for scenes set in their private chambers.

More than half a decade before the show began, author George R.R. Martin had also made comments in which he had publicly confirmed the relationship, stating at a convention in May 2005, in response to a question about Loras and Renly: "Yes, I did intend those characters to be gay." [20] In 2008 correspondence with readers, he also confirmed that both Loras’ father Mace and his grandmother Olenna were aware of his sexuality [21]. So suggestions by some readers that HBO had created the relationship for the show were entirely wrong, as Martin had been talking about it long before the series was made. When the TV series created romantic scenes for Renly and Loras in private for Season 1, he confirmed again that he fully intended them to be a romantic couple in the novels.

There are many hints throughout the books in the characters' conversations and thoughts about their relationship, for example:

  • Renly tells Stannis "You'll be pleased to know she [Margaery] came to me a maid". Stannis replies "In your bed, she's like to die that way".
  • While Loras escorts Sansa, she tells him "How terrible for your poor sister", referring to Renly's death. He reacts angrily since Renly's death saddened him much more.
  • Olenna tells Sansa "The Baratheons have always had some queer notions".
  • Renly comments on Lightbringer to Catelyn "I wonder where I can get a sword like that? Well, doubtless Loras will make me a gift of it after the battle. It grieves me that it must come to this."
  • Garlan tells Sansa "Loras is valiant and handsome, and we all love him dearly... but your Imp will make a better husband".
  • When Loras threatens Brienne, Jaime intervenes and tells him firmly "Now sheathe your bloody sword, or I'll take it from you and shove it up someplace even Renly never found". This is perhaps the bluntest of the hints in the books about their relationship.
  • Littlefinger tells Sansa that adding Loras to the Kingsguard "relieved him [Mace] of the difficult task of trying to find lands and a bride for a third son, never easy, and doubly difficult in Ser Loras's case".
  • Cersei wonders if Margaery is a virgin. She figures that Margaery might have had sex with Renly (despite his sexual preference) because "A man may prefer the taste of hippocras, yet if you set a tankard of ale before him, he will quaff it quick enough".

The TV series had more freedom for the camera to show events beyond the confines of POV characters from the novels, including what both Loras and his sister Margaery were doing off-screen. Thus many of the scenes between Renly, Loras, and/or Margaery didn't directly appear in the novels, though they probably "occurred" in some form, just off-screen.

After Renly was killed, Loras took his body away and buried him in secret somewhere in the gardens of Storm's End so no one would ever disturb it (i.e. he was worried that Joffrey might order Renly's corpse desecrated as he tried to usurp the Iron Throne from him).

Following Renly's death, Loras becomes despondent. Eventually, he joins the Kingsguard, in part to guard Margaery against Joffrey. When reminded that the Kingsguard swears never to marry or even love another but remain totally dedicated to service, Loras responds (without directly mentioning his love of Renly in public) that he is unconcerned, because once the sun of one's life has gone out, no candle can replace it (he knows he will never love again).

The TV series showed Loras having sex with the male prostitute Olyvar in Seasons 3 to 5 after Renly died, creating some consternation - writer Bryan Cogman later explained that the intent was just to show that Loras is "drowning his sorrows" with casual sex, as it were, and he is still deeply mourning his loss of Renly. To Cogman's deep regret, however, these scripted lines of dialogue were cut for time - they never intended to convey that Loras is "loving" again following his loss of Renly. Cogman stated about Loras: "I feel like he’s in mourning, he’s depressed, and this encounter with Olyvar is him medicating his wounds if you will. There was a longer version of their scene in earlier drafts that might have made that more clear—as we get closer to production a lot of trims have to be made and this scene was one where I had to do that. But that’s my thinking - he certainly hasn’t moved on from Renly emotionally."[22] While all of this wasn't directly stated on-screen due to time restraints they hoped it was at least still implied.

References

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