Though King Henry II never makes a physical appearance in the play, his presence certainly asserts itself in the characters who do. Challenged by Becket’s spiritual extremism, Henry II’s political power represents the secular, even anti-religious dimension in the play. For Henry II, Becket and the Pope’s condemnation of his rule is merely a rebellious attempt to discount and restrict his power—he does not understand or accept that Becket’s disagreements with his political policies could be sourced in a power higher and more powerful than his own office. Henry II does not comprehend the Church’s criticisms of his power as potential insights into how he can achieve a closer relationship to God, or how he could reframe his political role to better reflect God’s will and power. Ultimately unwilling to concede to the demands of the Church, Henry II (likely, though it’s never explicitly said or confirmed in the play) sends the four knights to coerce Becket into political compliance with his rule. But, shunning the crown in favor of a higher power, Becket doesn’t comply. It’s ultimately uncertain whether T.S. Eliot intends Becket’s murder to be read as a direct order of the king, or a decision made by the knights themselves.