Sometimes, the fight to see more diversity on screen — in whatever form it takes — can make us forget how far we’ve come. Hollywood still has a long, long way to go, but seeing stories of queer romance (that don’t end tragically) get the release they deserve in 2023 is not only overdue but would’ve felt so wholly foreign 20, 15, even 10 years ago. Queer love stories deserve their moment in the sun without being a punchline or a plot device. Sometimes, we just want to relish in the love shared between people and bask in that glow. “Red, White & Royal Blue”, streaming now on Prime Video, is the perfect example of this type of love story, and we’re calling it now — you’re about to be obsessed. With an all-star cast — Uma Thurman and Stephen Fry, anyone? — and power struggles between countries, “Red, White & Royal Blue” is, quite simply, a must-see movie.
Of course, the bookworms among us are no strangers to the story of “Red, White & Royal Blue.” A book of the same name, written by Casey McQuiston, was released in 2019 to huge success. It follows Alex Claremont-Diaz, the first son of the President of the United States (Uma Thurman), and his burgeoning romance with Prince Henry Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor, fourth in line to the British throne, currently held by King James III (Stephen Fry). It’s a transatlantic relationship that literally could alter world politics for good. The Prime Video film adaptation doesn’t shy away from how monumental the concept is. In fact, “Red, White & Royal Blue” celebrates it.
It’s All Love
First and foremost, “Red, White & Royal Blue” never hides its central message: this is a gay love story. Having to hide the love due to fear of consequences. Coming to terms with your sexuality when you’re not ready to. Telling people that not only are you in love, but you’re queer. These are tender moments that make the shining love binding the relationship between Alex and Henry that much stronger.
Of course, it’s still the real world, so the feelings between Alex and Henry are still a source of scandal and gossip. As we follow the pair’s arc from teens forced to hang out while their parents are at work to two people who actually have feelings for one another, we also follow their individual journeys of discovering their sexuality. Spoiler alert: queerness encompasses a whole spectrum of sexuality, not just ‘gay’. The difference in their sexualities helps anchor the movie in realism — there’s no one universal experience of queerness, after all.
Love That Could Literally Change the World
Beyond that, what’s refreshing about “Red, White & Royal Blue” is that the scandal doesn’t start and stop at their sexualities. It rolls over into the literal political implications of their love. Imagine what chaos would ensue if, say, Prince Harry had fallen in love with Sasha Obama or Hunter Biden instead of Meghan Markle? The US presidency and British monarchy are arguably the two biggest conduits of international diplomacy and relations in the Western world. Miles of red tape. Literal centuries of tradition. Ignore the fact that Alex and Henry are queer — this story also dives into how a romantic relationship between these two global powers could impact the course of politics around the world. Sons of world leaders have to keep a straight face while living up to unrealistic amounts of pressure. Imagine all that, while also dealing with the fact you might be gay.
What’s most groundbreaking about “Red, White & Royal Blue”, however, is that it uses institutions that are so traditional to house a very modern type of love. Governments and monarchies are largely bound by the way things have always happened, sometimes to their own detriment. Juxtaposing those traditional elements with something as archaic as homophobia helps make the bond between Alex and Henry appear even stronger. Their feelings for one another grew against all odds, while their relationship itself still feels normalised as part of this world.
Setting a New Standard
Beyond that, there are even trans characters (who aren’t defined by their transness) and they’re played by trans actors. In fact, the trans character in the book, Amy, is not rewritten to be cisgender in the film. She’s still trans. That’s the least of what trans people deserve as far as their treatment on screen. This representation is crucial, we know this, but seeing it actually showcased just adds to the beauty that “Red, White & Royal Blue” has to offer.
At its core, “Red, White & Royal Blue” is a romantic comedy. Nothing is too heavy, and nothing is too tragic. Considering onscreen representation of LGBTQI+ couples almost always come with heaviness and tragedy, this fact alone is a win. But, this movie takes a queer romance story, puts it in a context that almost no one will relate to, and still makes you feel warm and, hopefully, seen. That’s why “Red, White & Royal Blue” will be the romance movie moment of the year, and you can stream it now on Prime Video.
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