Set in 1183 during the Christmas holidays, THE LION IN WINTER begins as the reluctant Henry gathers his family around him to name one of his three sons as the successor to the throne. Each son has a flaw which makes the decision difficult. Eleanor, who is summoned from prison where she was sent after an attempt on the King's life, plots with her sons to force Henry to decide - according to her agenda. To complicate matters, Henry's mistress, Princess Alais of France, whom he hopes to make his next queen, is visited by her conniving brother King Philip of France, who also has his own plans for Henry's monarchy. With the fate of the empire at stake, everyone engages in their own brand of deception and treachery to stake their claim.