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While the weak and drunken King Rudolph of Ruritania awaits his coronation, he is drugged by his brother, Black Michael, who is preparing a coup d'état. Michael's plans are thwarted by the substitution at Rudolph's coronation of Rassendyll, an Englishman who is the king's exact double. Michael, discovering the ruse, kidnaps the real king and holds him captive in the castle at Zenda. Rassendyll aids in the king's rescue and renounces the love of the Princess Flavia, the king's bethrothed, to return to England.