How is the main conflict or challenge resolved by the end of the novel?

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The principal public conflict in The Prisoner of Zenda is the battle for the throne between King Rudolf V of Ruritania and his half-brother, Michael, Duke of Strelsau. Michael has the king drugged and kidnapped so that he is unable to attend his own coronation and keeps him heavily guarded...

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The principal public conflict in The Prisoner of Zenda is the battle for the throne between King Rudolf V of Ruritania and his half-brother, Michael, Duke of Strelsau. Michael has the king drugged and kidnapped so that he is unable to attend his own coronation and keeps him heavily guarded in the Castle of Zenda, as the eponymous prisoner.

This conflict is resolved when Rudolf Rassendyll, the king's double who is crowned in his place and has been reigning in his stead, manages to rescue the king and restore him to the throne, killing Duke Michael in the process.

However, the novel also deals with the private conflict which Rassendyll faces. He falls in love with the Princess Flavia, whom the king is engaged to marry. It is a terrible temptation for him to leave the king to his fate and continue reigning in his place, since this would allow him to marry Flavia. However, he feels that this would be too dishonorable for him seriously to contemplate (one of his antagonists, Rupert of Hentzau, remarks that the Duke underestimates Rassendyll because he "doesn't understand a gentleman").

Rassendyll's temptation to behave dishonorably is removed when the king is restored to his throne, but the two lovers, Rassendyll and Flavia, must be separated for the public good. This lack of resolution in their private affairs provides the material for the novel's sequel, Rupert of Hentzau.

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