Marriages are always a tool of politics when it comes to the royal families, and the kingdom was no exception. In the matrilinear custom of the place, the consorts of the king held no title, and their offspring held no rights to the royal house. Children were considered to be members of the family of the mother. Kings normally married from the wealthy and prominent nair families. Outwardly, it was just a matter of privilege to have a king marry into your family.
But in most cases, the family of the royal consort held a lot of influence on the king. The feminine charm, and the power in the bed of the consort extracted a lot of concessions and bestowal of power to the family. So, whenever there was a prince available, there used to be a competition to grab him. No effort was spared to let the girls be in the sight of the princes and the elders of the royal family. There was no dearth of well dressed up girls whenever the princes attended a function, be it at the temple, or a public function. Even a secret affair with the prince was gainful, so girls were encouraged for even that.
Arakkal Kunjunni Menon had much more reasons to snag an alliance to the royal family. He was the lord of a big stretch of lands right at the northern border of the kingdom. Beyond his lands, across the river, it was the strong kingdom of Nediyirippu. Vettom was under sovereignty of Nediyirippu for some time in the recent past, before Kerala Varma severed the links. Kunjunni Menon had to forgo some lands that were in the domain of Nediyirippu, which hadn't gone well with him. He had expertly hid his displeasure with his sovereign, playing the part of a loyal subject well.
In normal circumstances, Arackal family would have never got an alliance to the royal house. Kunjunni Menon was married into a family near the capital. As a first step of approach to the royals, he was successful in getting his nephew Ramunny, the son of his sister-in-law into being a classmate of the princes. In those days, there was the custom to select a few boys of the same age as the prince to be his friend/classmates. They would grow up together, and depending upon their calibre, would take jobs at the courts and be faithful servants to the king. With a bit of influence with the trainer at the royal kalari, Kunjunni Menon was able to get Ramunny accepted there. Ramunny was as sharp and smart as the old man, so he could gain the trust and admiration of the princes, and into getting selected into the inner circle.
When the princes went to complete a prolonged ritual at a temple away from the capital, Kunjunni Menon took his niece, the beautiful Parukutty, to stay at a relative place close by. His intention was to snag Rama Varma, the crown prince. But as fate would have it, it was Ravi Varma, the third in succession, who ended up being enamored with Parukutty. Rama Varma, the strong willed, had already been in a covert relationship with a girl from a family nearby to the royal palace. He deferentially stood up even to the king, not only for himself, but also for his half brother, Ravi Varma.
Ultimately, the king had to give in, and allow the marriage of the princes to their respective sweethearts. Kunjunni Menon was not at all happy about the turn of events. Even though he got Ramunny into an influential position, getting the kings consortship was the key in attaining his goals.
But getting the third in line was not that bad, he thought. Especially when Ravi Varma is only a murder away from being the second.