Having NPC's take initiative tends to be a video game thing because running the game (particularly with an epic battle) takes so much mental energy away from role playing.
But it should happen more. Allies can be a double edged sword. In this case it could make it harder to take over an empire when one of your brides killed the old emperor instead of you.
Somehow 1st Mate shrunk on me. I originally made her look considerably bigger than the emperor but lost that scale in redrawings...