The Lion in Winter is fictional and none of the dialogue and actions is historical; there was not a Christmas Court at Chinon in 1183. However, the events leading up to the story are generally accurate. There is no definitive evidence that Alais was Henry's mistress (although Richard later resisted marrying Alais on the basis of this claim). The real Henry had many mistresses (and several illegitimate children). Eleanor had persuaded their sons to rebel against Henry in 1173, and for her role in the rebellion she was imprisoned by Henry until his death in 1189.
The play was performed as part of Berkshire Theatre Group's 2013 season with Rhys Boatwright as Geoffrey.
A 2014 production by the Colony Theater Company in Burbank, California starred Mariette Hartley as Eleanore and Ian Buchanan as Henry. Brendan Ford played Richard and Hartley's daughter Justine, Alais.
A radio parody of The Lion in Winter entitled The Leopard in Autumn by Neil Anthony was originally broadcast in BBC Radio 4 in 2001 and 2002 and subsequently re-broadcast on BBC Radio 4 Extra in 2011. Broadcast in two series, it starred David Swift as Prince Ludovico, the ambitious and henpecked ruler of Monte Guano (the smallest and most inconsequential city-state in Renaissance Italy), Siân Phillips as his wife Princess Plethora, Graham Crowden as Francesco (Ludovico's perpetually drunken secretary), Saskia Wickham as Countess Rosalie (Ludovico's mistress [with Plethora's full knowledge and approval]), and as Ludovico's perpetually squabbling sons: Nick Romero as the overly religious Salvatore (whose ambition is to become Pope some day), Paul Bigley as Allesandro (an eternally hopeful would-be artist and inventor) and Christopher Kellen as Guido (a fierce follower of Martin Luther).
Henry II, King of England (Male, 50) – Though aging, Henry is still very nearly as vital as he ever was. His manipulations of family and others are portrayed as spontaneous and emotional as opposed to the well-thought out stratagems of Eleanor, and the cold, calculating machinations of Geoffrey.
Queen Eleanor (Female, 59) – Eleanor is the wife of Henry and a beautiful woman of great temperament, authority and presence. She has been a queen for nearly 46 years and, while possessing feminine qualities, she is thoroughly capable of holding her own in a man's world. She schemes against Henry and intensely loves him at the same time. She has contempt for her children but is not willing to see them harmed.
John (Male, 16) – He is the youngest son of Henry and Eleanor. He is sulky and sullen, with a boyish outlook on his position; many in the play describe him as a spoiled brat. He is described in the play as pimply and smelling of compost. He is Henry's favourite, but also the weakest. He constantly vacillates throughout the play, not out of cleverness, but out of fear and weakness. He is easily tricked and manipulated by Geoffrey.
Geoffrey (Male, 25) – He is a son of Henry and Eleanor, and a man of energy and action. He is attractive, charming and the "brains" of the family; he is also a cold, amoral schemer. His view of himself is of one who yearned greatly for the love of his parents while receiving none. Yet, the play leaves open to question whether any of Henry's three sons should be thought to have been truly loved by either Henry or Eleanor and not merely used by King and Queen as pawns in their ceaseless scheming against one another.
Richard the Lionheart (Male, 26) – The third, and eldest surviving, son of Henry and Eleanor, their second son, Henry, having recently died. Richard is handsome, graceful and impressive and has been a famous soldier since his middle teens. War is his profession and he is good at it. He is easily the strongest and toughest of the three sons/princes. Richard and Philip Capet have been sexually involved prior to the action of the play. However, Philip declares that he participated in the affair purely for political purposes, whereas Richard indicates he had genuine affection for Philip.
Alais Capet (Female, 23) – She is beautiful and in love with Henry. Everyone underestimates her intellect and power. She is initially portrayed as innocent, but by the end of the play has begun to acquire a ruthless streak of her own, insisting that Henry imprison his three sons for the rest of their lives in the dungeon.
Philip II, King of France (Male, 18) – He has been King of France for three years. He is not initially as accomplished as Henry in manipulating people, but seems to acquire greater skills at this during the play. He is impressive and handsome without being pretty.