Rudolf Rassendyll is a young , wealthy and active man. One morning, at breakfast, his brother' s wife , Rose, askes him when he will eventually settle down and stop travelling and spending his time and his money on nonsense. After a short conversation, she tells him that he could work for an ambassador, but only after six months. Rudolf thanks Rose and after a while he remembers that he would visit Ruritania, a small but very important kingdom where a new King will be crowned. On his way through Paris, he has a brief meeting with an old friend, who knows a rich widow, Antoinette de Mauban, who also goes to Ruritania. During the journey, it becomes known that the coronation will take place earlier than expected and Rudolf decides to stay in a town called Zenda, a few kilometres away from the capital of Ruritania, Strelsau. He finds a small hotel and, after having a little chat with the owners, he goes to his room to rest.

Next morning, Rudolf decides to walk through the forest and find the castle, in which the King stayed until the ceremony. While taking a break, two men appear in front of him.They realize that Rudolf resembles the King and when he meets them, they all start laughing and decide to spend some time in a hunting lodge. There, they have a good time eating and drinking wine. At the end of the night, a servant, Josef, offers the King a bottle of wine which he drinks and then all of them fall asleep. Suddenly , at 5 a.m. one of the two men wakes Rudolf up by throwing water to his face. The reason is that the King is unconscious because of the last bottle of wine, which probably drugged him and, after a discussion, they decide that Rudolf must replace the King in the ceremony in order for the real King not to lose the crown from his brother, Duke Michael.

After a short preparation, the three men ride their horses and head to Hofbau in order to take the train to Strelsau, where the ceremony will take place. When they arrive Rudolf realizes that the capital is split in half. The new town, where everybody supports the King and the old one, where the people support Duke Michael. Heading to the church he decides to go through the old town without being guarded and he finally arrives to the church where everyone awaits him. The good thing is that nobody notices that he is not the real King and after the coronation, he and his cousin, Princess Flavia, go to the palace, having a little chat on their horses.

´╗┐After the dinner the three men go to the King's dressing room. They have only seven hours to replace Rudolf with the real King,who is in the hunting lodge. Fritz is left behind at the palace to ensure that nobody notices that the King is missing and the other two walk through a secret passage and come out of the palace. There, they ride their horses and head to the lodge.Before arriving there, they notice that they are followed by two men,one of whom is Duke Michael. After that they decide to hurry and go to the lodge because they are afraid that the King is captured by Duke Michael's servants. When they arrive they find out that Josef has been murdered and the King has disappeared. The only thing they have to do is return to Strelsau and Rudolf must continue pretending to be the King. They are now ready to leave but they suddenly see eight horsemen approaching and after a short fight ,they get away from them.

At around eight o' clock they reach the palace and meet Fritz at the dressing room.He is informed about the situation and after some meetings ,Rudolf and the other two men have to decide what to be done. During the discussion, Fritz says that three of Michael's famous Six are in Strelsau,something that obviously means that the other three are guarding the living King. These six men are loyal to Duke Michael and are very dangerous. Some time later Rudolf and Fritz visit Princess Flavia and suddenly Duke Michael appears. They all have a mysterious talk and Rudolf meets his brother's loyal servants.After a while, they all leave.