Red, White & Royal Blue

Red, White & Royal Blue

There’s something perfectly Mills & Boon about the new same-sex romance film, in which the son of a US President falls for a British prince.

Red, White & Royal Blue is based on a novel of the same name by Casey McQuiston. It has all the hallmarks of forbidden love, torrid romance, politics, media, and two to-die-for leads.

In the pages of an airplane novel, or the script of a Hollywood melodrama, the audience can lose itself in the fantasy of a dreamy hypothetical. In reality, I’m struggling to think of any equivalent. There was Lord Ivar Mountbatten, gay royalty in India and Brunei, and numerous through ancient history. But the notion of a cross-Atlantic high office romance is presumably the stuff of fiction thus far.

None of that will deter the audience for this steamy tale, given all the trappings of the endless heterosexual royal romances that have come before it. In 2023 where marriage equality and Prince Harry & Meghan are well-entrenched, director Matthew López has plenty of hypothetical terrain in which to play.

Taylor Zakhar Perez (Minx, The Kissing Booth 2) is Alex, the drop-dead gorgeous biracial, bisexual son of the first woman President of the United States (Uma Thurman) who connects with the boyish, dashing Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine), on a cultural relations trip to Britain. But a frosty collision, underneath a towering wedding cake no less, marks the point where you may start yelling at your TV “Get a room!”

But fear not, the sexual tension will simmer until it explodes behind closed doors, if wrapped in awkward hijinks. While Alex tries to ignore his attraction (despite having had two gay flings in the past), Prince Henry is smitten, but stifled by the expectations of the Crown.

There are questions around coming out, pressures of upcoming US elections and navigating who is let in on their secret, at the same time as grasping just what this long distance relationship even is.

Then there is the role of media, personified largely through the eyes of one journalist (Juan Castano) while our romantic couple don’t seem to take any care to avoid long lens cameras shooting them through open windows.

Supporting characters such as deputy chief of staff Zahra (Sarah Shahi) get some of the better lines, while Thurman drawls her way through a supporting role and Stephen Fry makes a belated cameo as the King.

The two leads handle the material confidently but the directing lets them play theatrically and some scenes come off as too hammy.

Despite scenes veering between saccharine and romp there is one sex scene that is surprisingly unequivocal in its intimacy and hints at what might have been. Sometimes less is more.

Thanks to the two likeable leads Red, White & Royal Blue remains an easy and crowd-pleasing watch. It may not surpass Call Me By Your Name or even the sincerity of Heartstopper and Love Simon, but you’d hope such an affair would be received with equal enthusiasm should it ever come to pass.

Red, White & Royal Blue is now screening on Prime Video.