By Thomas Fitzgerald
When Alex Claremont-Diaz, the first son of the President of the United States, holds a grudge against the young Prince Henry of Wales for years, let’s just say things get… caked up (;))
I read the book and was excited to see the movie. It does not disappoint! A new classic.
The movie jumps right in with Alex begrudgingly accepting an invitation to attend Prince Philip (older brother of Prince Henry) and Princess Martha’s wedding. While trying to get through the uneventful evening of parading around with other high-profile guests, Alex has been quickly consuming several alcoholic beverages and works up the courage to confront his enemy (Prince Henry). After a few terse words between both men, a shove in the wrong direction sends the priceless wedding cake toppling over onto both of them. This proceeds to send the United States government and the Royal Family into damage control and forces Alex and Henry to spend unwanted time with one another at various events to help smooth the relationship between the two nations.
Red, White and Royal Blue showcases the complexities of living a high-profile life and what that means for one’s own private insecurities. On one side of the ocean, you have a free-spirited, charismatic college student who is just not fully aware of his own sexuality–first son of the United States, Alex Claremont-Diaz. On the other side you have a conscientious, closeted gay man who is keenly aware of his status of royalty and the duties that come with it–Prince Henry of Wales.
The movie does a good job at holding the audience’s attention with the humor and rather witty remarks from both male leads throughout the whole film but mostly during the interactions where they are not in the same room together. The flirtatious emails and text messages were never on Alex’s forecast at the start of this so-called “damage control” situation but he quickly adapts.
The movie slows down to highlight that the meaning of friendship can take many different forms. Alex not fully realizing that Henry was flirting with him for months until the big kiss in the courtyard shows that Alex was genuinely enjoying Henry’s presence in his life as perhaps another young person who is always in the limelight. This was clearly noted when Prince Henry says, “Do you wonder who you would be if you were an anonymous person in the world?” Alex returns with, “I have no idea what you’re talking about” and that’s when Prince Henry turns and says, “Christ, you’re as thick as it gets” and kisses Alex. This was a monumental moment in the story because it solidified two things: 1. Prince Henry is in fact gay and 2. Alex becomes one of the few people to know Henry’s secret and Alex immediately begins questioning his own sexuality because he actually enjoyed the kiss with Henry.
The movie continues to allow the audience inward of only Alex’s side of the now conflicted situation for months as Henry ignores his text and calls for a while. That is until Alex corners Henry at an event the two are attending in the White House. After the help of Amy, Alex’s secret service bodyguard, Alex finds some alone time with the prince. Here is where Alex solidifies Prince Henry’s worries and forcefully kisses him. This lets the audience know that Alex does indeed feel something with Henry and Henry gladly accepts this kiss, and much more, from Alex.
From here, Red, White and Royal Blue takes off showcasing Alex and Prince Henry’s complicated, but passionate, relationship and how both of them are confiding in each other: Sharing secrets, insecurities, goals and very intimate sexual awakenings which gives way to the romantic comedy all LGBTQ+ audiences will appreciate.
Firstly, where I feel the movie does a poor job, is integrating the story of Alex’s old school (and maybe more) friend and journalist, Liam. I feel if you did not read the book, you might have been particularly lost as to whom that might have been. Although it’s written to be kept sort of vague, I feel the interactions between Alex and Liam could have been executed differently to allow the audience inward of what was going on in Alex’s mind during those interactions and therefore allow us to momentarily see what happened in the past between them both.
Secondly throughout LGBTQ+ stories there is always conflict and sometimes this conflict lasts a long time. I feel the latter quarter of the movie post emails being leaked of Alex and Henry’s adorably intimate emails was rushed. I wanted to see more of the inner conflict inside Alex and Prince Henry’s heads. This was given a small platform when Alex races to confront Prince Henry at his residence and demands an explanation as to why their relationship must come to an end. The walking tour of the art gallery could have been longer and really drilled home Prince Henry’s controversy with being gay in a royal family. Lastly, the discussion scene between Prince Henry and the King – this I felt was rushed and did not give the audience the dramatization and delicate situation they were now dealt with.
Overall, this film adaptation is a comedic, romantic and queer coming out with a pride and acceptance story that will have you leaving the theater with grinning, wet cheeks. Understanding how powerful queer stories are and can be is crucial because it allows those who may not fully understand who they may be – see themselves on a larger platform and know that it is okay to be queer even if you have a high-profile life or a big professional life. If this was something that happened in real life – I feel people may have a greater understanding of the difficulties all LGBTQ+ people face as coming out does not just happen once, but many times throughout a person’s life. This movie is a must-see and I will for sure be watching it many times over in the coming weeks, months and years.