Requiem of the Rose King: Why Did Richard Kiss [SPOILER]?

The following contains spoilers for Requiem of the Rose King, Episode 2, “My Father Is My Light,” now streaming on Funimation.

In Requiem of the Rose King, Richard has an unhappy upbringing and continues to have his existence demonized by his mother, leading to the young man getting ostracized. The one person who loves Richard is his father and namesake, Richard the II, the Duke of York. Where Richard's mother feared him, his father doted on him and treated him like a normal human being.

Episode 2 concludes with a shocking moment. Richard sees a horrifying sight and, overcome with emotion, does something that may cause viewers discomfort, though it makes sense thematically. It's a very Shakespearean act -- dramatic and morbid -- that indicates a shift in Richard's character for the future.

Richard and his father have a deep connection in Requiem of the Rose King. Out of all his sons, Richard is the Duke of York's most beloved. The boy wants to help his father become king because in Richard's eyes, it's only right that he should sit on the throne. Unfortunately Richard's mother continues to demonize her son, acting as a barrier between the two. She restrains him from accompanying his father in the war due to her belief that young Richard would cause the Duke of York's death. Sadly and ironically, this does come true.

During the fight, Richard II was hopelessly surrounded by Henry's wife, Margaret's, troops and despite his soldiers urging him to flee, the Duke chose to stand and fight. He might have heeded his soldiers' words before, but he remembered his promise to Richard that he would never retreat. As a result, Richard II was captured by Margaret and became her prisoner.

Margaret mocked the Duke, placing a fake crown on his head and even cruelly turning his love for his son against him. She produced a handkerchief soaked with blood and taunted him, lying that the blood was Richard's. This was false, but Richard II's love became the nail in his coffin. As he bowed his head, sobbing, Margaret took the opportunity to behead him during his most despairing moment.

requiem of the rose king richard fathers head

Richard and his father's bond is so deep that the boy feels a pang in his heart when the Duke dies. Although he didn't know what happened, he knew something was wrong and immediately escaped to rescue him. When he eventually found his father, he was far too late to save him. Staked on the walls of York like a perverse trophy was the head of Richard II, but Richard didn't break down. Instead he smiled, held his head and kissed his father.

Before jumping to conclusions that Requiem of the Rose King is getting incestuous, Richard's relationship with his father is special. Even with times changing and people becoming more accepting in today's modern era, LGBTQ+ individuals still face abuse and discrimination. It is even more unlikely for marginalized people from this community to find any kind of acceptance during the 15th century.

That's why having someone like Richard II, who is in a position of power, treat Richard like a man -- like his son -- is so powerful. He never questioned his son's identity or made him feel ashamed of himself. Richard wanted to be identified as a man and that's what his father did. He never misgendered him or thought he was strange, and was the son he loved most of all. This speaks volumes. Richard II gave his son the solace and love that he so yearned for, and that has long since been missing. The Duke of York was Richard's one light in his dark world.

When Richard kisses his father's head, it represents a culmination of all his emotions overwhelming him in this single act: panic, fear, crushing sorrow and strange relief. The kiss represents his love for his father, but is also a farewell. Richard's entire world shifts with his father's death: the man who symbolized the light now symbolizes the start of his son's downward spiral for revenge. Without someone being the light for Richard that his father was, he'll have no choice but to fully embrace the darkness within as Requiem of the Rose King continues.

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