‘The Last Kingdom’: Eliza Butterworth Reveals Why Lady Aelswith Has a Change of Heart About Aethelstan

In the hit series The Last Kingdom, Lady Aelswith (Eliza Butterworth) goes through some major life changes. In season 4, she finds her world has completely changed after the death of her husband, King Alfred (David Dawson). Aelswith struggles to pick up the pieces and regain some semblance of her old life, but she’ll need allies.

Lady Aelswith decides to take care of Aethelstan

Eliza Butterworth
Eliza Butterworth | Dave Benett/Getty Images for LOUIS XIII

In season 4, Aelswith realizes that she made the wrong choice about the family her son married into. She chose Lord Aethelhelm’s (Adrian Schiller) daughter, Aelflead (Amelia Clarkson). However, Aelswith didn’t account for an enemy in Aethelhelm. Aelswith soon realizes her error considering she had Edward (Timothy Innes) leave his first marriage and marry Aelflaed instead. However, Edward’s first marriage consisted of children, and one of them is Aethelstan, a contender to the throne.

Aelswith decides that she must see Aethelstan and she starts taking care of him. She doesn’t want anything bad to happen to him, especially at the hands of Lord Aethelhelm. Aelswith believes she must protect him, since he’s an heir to the throne of Wessex and possibly her way around Aethelhelm’s influence.

Eliza Butterworth reveals why Lady Aelswith has a change of heart about Aethelstan

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Eliza Butterworth spoke with Variety before the premiere of season 4. She was asked why Aelswith goes to see Aethelstan. Is it because she knows she was wrong? It’s because Aelswith realizes she has allies in “forgotten family members.” She realizes that it’s important to keep Aethelstan close.

“Exactly. It’s a balance between delving into the past and realizing that some of her allies are in forgotten family members,” Butterworth revealed. “That is Aethelstan, her grandson whom she banished from the kingdom because she believes that he was born out of wedlock and now under the rule of God that is completely inappropriate. But now she’s realized that actually he’s her own saving grace in this new fight against Aethelhelm, who’s trying to gain control by putting his own blood in line to be heir to the throne.”

‘She knows it’s not necessarily the wisest thing to do’

Aelswith chooses to look after Aethelstan because he is a contender to the throne of Wessex and also her relative. Aelswith realizes that she was wrong and she also needs this child in her fight against Aethelhelm. He may try to hurt Aethelstan or worse if Aelswith doesn’t protect him, and when she realizes this, she makes it her mission to protect him.

“So it’s kind of the last resort and she knows it’s not necessarily the wisest thing to do,” Butterworth continued. “But I think Edward can then see in his mother’s eyes that actually Aethelhelm is poisonous, and if this is the only way to defeat him then we have to do it. It becomes very complex, and it’s sad that it revolves around a child as well because he was happily living a life and not knowing that he was destined to be the first King of England, Alfred’s heir.”

Lady Aelswith chooses to look after Aethelstan for a number of reasons. She knows she must do right by Aethelstan, and he might be her only defense against Aethelhelm to ensure the security of Wessex.