This adventure romance sets in Ruritania, an imaginary country in South-eastern Europe, in the eighteenth century. The main character in the story is Rudolf Rassendyll, a 29-year-old English gentleman. He is well-educated, handsome, rich, happy and leads a carefree life. His sister-in-law, Rose, insist that he finds a job. He agrees to that when his brother gets him a job as an attache' to the ambassador, Sir Jacob Borrodaille.
However, before he starts working, he wants to go for a holiday. He decides to visit Ruritania, to witness the coronation of King Rudolf V, which will be held in Strelsau, the capital city. On the way here, he stops at Zenda where people are amazed at him because he looks very similar to the King. He is so fascinated with the Zenda Castle and the woods. So, he takes a walk and by chance, he meets King Rudolf V and his loyal followers, Colonel Sapt and Fritz Von Tarlenheim. The King likes him and invites him over to his lodge.
Duke Michael, who is also known as Black Michael, wants to drug the King by sending him a drugged bottle of wine. This is to sabotage the coronation ceremony because Duke Michael himself wants to be the King. The Kings' advisers, Colonel Sapt and Fritz, convince Rudolf to impersonate the King in order to save the Kings throne and life.
While the real King V is kidnapped by Duke Michael and lies unconscious in the Zenda Castle, Rudolf Rassendyll is crowned as the King at Strelsau. Duke Michael, being very mean, knows that he has to get Rudolf out of the way. So he hired killers, famously known as 'The Famous Six' to kill Rudolf. However, he manages to escape. In the midst of all these,
Rudolf falls in love with Princess Falvia, who turns love him very much. However, she does not know that he is not the 'real' king. Things get complicated when people expect King Rudolf V to save the King Rudolf V to set a date for the wedding. So, Rudolf with the assistance of Colonel Sapt and Fritz plan to save the King from Zenda Castle. As Rudolf and his men quietly advance upon the castle, Duke Michael is killed not by them but by Rupert Hentzau, the chief of 'The Famous Six' over the love of a beautiful Frenchwoman, Antoinette.
During this commotion, Rudolf rescues the King and goes after Rupert bt he escapes. Arriving at Zenda, Princess Flavia gets to know that Rudolf is not the 'real' king. So she has to give up her love and marries King Rudolf V as it is her duty to the people and country. Being an honourable man, Rudolf has to give up his love.
The King thanks Rudolf for saving his life and throne. Rudolf returns to England heartbroken and lives with the memories of his sweetheart, Princess Flavia. However, he stills get to hear about her and Ruritania from Fritz and his wife who visit him once a year.