‘Red, White & Royal Blue’ Is Not a Movie for Royalists or the Political Right

Based on Casey McQuiston’s critically acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Red, White & Royal Blue is a delightfully entertaining and queer romantic comedy. Following the enemies-to-lovers romance of a prince and a president’s son, Matthew López’s feature debut, now on Prime Video, is the most modern of fairytales, defying conventions with an abundance of emotion, engaging drama, and steamy hotness.

Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine) is Britain’s heartthrob. Spare to the throne, he greets the international guests who have flocked to Buckingham Palace in celebration of his brother’s royal wedding. One such guest is Alex Claremont-Diaz (Taylor Zakhar Perez), the son of the American President (Uma Thurman with a smooth Texan drawl). Often called the “American Prince Henry,” he shares some commonalities with the Prince. They both have good looks, charm, and charisma, but above all, a disdain for one another. Their feud turns into an amusing, cake-splattering disaster, with tabloids eating up everything slice. This international incident casts a shadow over negotiations of a new trade deal between the U.S. and Britain and risks jeopardizing the Predient’s re-election poll numbers. (All of this resulting from knocking over a wedding cake seems pretty ridiculous, but that’s politics!)

Alex and Henry, now on damage control, have to convince the press that they’ve been mates for years and any reporting on a feud is, pardon the term, fake news. Despite being from two different worlds, the pair believe they know everything about each other. But in all the photo ops and interviews, they learn that that isn’t the case at all, and this friendship for the cameras turns into something much deeper than they could have expected. A romance blossoms behind the bars of royal and political prisons, the couple profoundly challenging the institutions they represent in a revolutionary act of love.

The romance may be streamy and the leads eye-candy, but the script by López and Ted Malawer has a contemporary brilliance that makes for an incredibly engaging drama. Of course, it has the familiar enemies-to-lovers rom-com trope, but this only adds to the fun of the flirtatious jabs and desire to root for the film’s characters and their romance. It’s interesting to see how they both realize their similarities as the film progresses. Alex doesn’t like Henry because he represents the privileged elite and gets to live in a palace, an irony as the President’s son that is pointed out by Alex’s father (played by Clifton Collins Jr.). But still, Alex scoffs at royalty and is annoyed at being called the “American Prince Henry” because of his working-class roots. Prince Henry, on the other hand, has had everything given to him on a silver platter and could never understand what it’s like to be Alex, a non-white American trying to make a name for himself in politics. However, Alex doesn’t realize that Henry has a disdain for the institution he grew up in. As they get to know each other, they discover that their lives are very similar in the way that they haven’t been allowed to be themselves. They both dream of anonymity in order to explore their queer identities freely, without every private and intimate thought and action in the public eye. A history of tradition grows heavy on their shoulders as their responsibility to the people around them battles with their hearts.

How this romance is navigated casually and carefully often begs the question if they can ever live freely and unapologetically as a couple, but you root for them until the very end. It’s not a romance without complications, but it’s not one of those queer films where the complications are so explosive it turns upsetting for the audience, leading them to reflect on their trauma. It’s quite an uplifting and happy film, while still pulling on our heartstrings. Galitzine and Perez are so humorously charming and carry an affecting vulnerability as they explore this newfound emotional connection in such a complicated, political environment. As Alex, Perez has a sweet insecurity and nervousness behind his brash exterior, while Galitzine as Henry balances confidence and shyness with big puppy dog eyes. We see the evolution of their characters, not only through dialogue but body language as well. In one pivotal scene, silence drowns out everything around them as they see each other across a crowded dancefloor. It’s a beautiful moment of realization of their feelings and leads to many moments of emotion and tenderness.

Red, White & Royal Blue is one of the best queer rom-coms in recent years. While marking a journey of self-discovery and exploration of queer identity, it tackles the antiquated idea of royalty and idealism of politics by aiming its lens at young people who represent those institutions and their future. Not only is it just a charming romance film, but a look at how views and politics can evolve — and are evolving.

Header Image Source: Prime Video

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