Bushy and Green, who had bunkered down at Bristow castle, are led away as prisoners by Bullingbrook and his followers. They are to be duly executed and Bullingbrook explains why. They have abused the King and Queen with their unsound advice, bringing nothing but misery to the kingdom. Their advice have alienated Richard and Bullingbrook who would otherwise be the best of cousins united by blood and affection. And they have appropriated Bullingbrook’s inheritance for their own selfish ends, doing away with all evidence which attest to Bullingbrook’s noble lineage. Northumberland is put in charge of executing Bushy and Green. Then, having asked York to make sure that the Queen receives his--Bullingbrook’s--greetings and assurances of fair treatment, Bullingbrook assembles his men to face Glendower in the battlefield.
Upon arriving in England, at Barkloughly castle, King Richard is hopeful, that despite reports of Bullingbrook’s success, that he will prevail, arguing that heaven will side on behalf of England’s rightful King and not on behalf of a bold upstart. Alas, his hope sustains a near fatal blow when the Earl of Salisbury greets the King with bad news: Twelve thousand Welshman have disbanded and have joined Bullingbrook, believing the King to be dead. Had the King arrived a day earlier, the 12,000 Welshman would have been the King’s to command. Richard is prevented from despairing, however, by Aumerle who reminds Richard that he is the King. And thus Richard has rallied his spirits when he is greeted by Scroop who has no better news: The commoners of England have all turned against Richard. At this, Richard wonders if all his trusted men have turned against him too. It is small consolation when Scroop informs the King that most of his trusted men have lost their heads defying Bullingbrook. Nonetheless, spurred on by Aumerle and the Bishop of Carlisle who remind the King respectively of the Duke of York’s backing and the King’s duty to never back down, Richard rallies his spirit and determines to confront Bullingbrook. Alas, the hope is short lived when Scroop informs the King that the Duke of York has, for intents and purposes, defected to Bullingbrook.
York chides Northumberland for referring to King Richard as Richard when Henry Percy arrives to inform Bullingbrook that Flint castle, which has been issued an ultimatum to yield (by Bullingbrook), is occupied by King Richard. Consequently, Bullingbrook sends Northumberland as his emissary with the following message to King Richard: Retract Bullingbrook’s exile and return Bullingbrook’s rightful claims of inheritance and Bullingbrook will withdraw and disband his forces. Otherwise, Bullingbrook will achieve his goals by force, spilling the blood of Englishmen as necessity dictates. Richard agrees to the terms, confiding in Aumerle if he should change his mind and thereby assure them (the King and his followers) of their immediate deaths. Aumerle advises patience, to let time provide them with the means to fight back. When Northumberland returns, King Richard gives full expression to his resignation, asking Northumberland what must he do now to satisfy King Bullingbrook. Northumberland informs Richard that Bullingbrook would like to speak to the King and that he is waiting in the courtyard below. King Richard obliges.
When the cousins meet, Bullingbroook kneels, making an overt gesture of his subordinacy to Richard. It’s apparent though that Bullingbrook is extending the gesture as a mere courtesy. King Richard supposes that Bulllingbrook would like the King to accompany Bullingbrook to London. Bullingbrook replies yes, that that is what he would like. The King obliges.
The Queen tries in vain to keep her mind distracted when she spots the Gardener and his assistant and decides to eavesdrop, so sure is she they will talk about matters pertaining to her husband. Sure enough, they allude to King Richard’s failure to properly manage the state. The Gardener mentions how if the King had properly weeded, pruned, and trimmed the excesses of his administration that the King would now be enjoying the fruits of his labor. This talk so upsets the Queen that she confronts the Gardener and his assistant and wonders how they dare to speculate about the deposition of their King. The Gardener apologizes, but he maintains that what he speaks is true, that the Queen may confirm it for herself by going to London where Bullingbrook is on the verge of usurping Richard. As the Queen leaves, the Gardener, feeling sympathy for the Queen, decides to plant a bed of rue on the very spot where the Queen has shed a tear.