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Red, White & Royal Blue Review: Prime Video's Rom-Com Is Too Diplomatic

American and British political scions fall for each other in a movie that walks the line between corny and sexy

Matthew Jacobs
Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine, Red, White & Royal Blue

Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine, Red, White & Royal Blue

Prime Video

People love to say the romantic comedy is dead, which isn't really true. The genre still produces periodic hits, and it's spawned an entire sub-industry of nerveless knockoffs thanks to the Hallmark Channel. That's probably where the new movie Red, White & Royal Blue belongs, with its starry-eyed tale of two political offspring — the son of the first female American president and the grandson of the long-reigning British king — graduating from rivals to lovers. But because it's based on a bestselling novel, Prime Video scooped up the film in a multi-studio bidding war, providing a sheen of prestige.

Red, White & Royal Blue occupies an awkward middle ground: too pat to be sophisticated but too evocative to be infantilizing. There's just enough charm, and just enough sex that would never make it past Hallmark's guardrails, to transcend the triteness on display. In adapting Casey McQuiston's 2019 book, director Matthew López (Broadway's The Inheritance) and co-writer Ted Malawer (Halston) have sculpted a fantasy about beautiful people shattering diplomatic boundaries and accidentally coming out on the world's stage.

Those people are Alex Claremont-Diaz (Taylor Zakhar Perez) and Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine), stereotypes of their respective nations. Alex is impulsive and into Lil Jon, Henry is snobbish and into polo. Both carry heavy burdens as scions for whom any mistake reflects poorly on their all-important families. Hence why neither is out publicly, and why, after trading nasty barbs and chaotic mishaps, their budding romance must remain closeted.


Red, White & Royal Blue


  • Sexier than its Hallmark Channel trappings
  • Finds amusing ways to emphasize the characters' cultural differences


  • Corny and trite
  • A bit long
  • What is Uma Thurman's accent?

This is very much a movie about self-empowerment, which means Perez and Galitzine have to make a lot of hokey dialogue sound reasonable. They're somewhat up to the impossible task, and when they fall short, both actors manage to find gestures that enhance their chemistry. After sex, Galitzine traces his fingers across Perez's body, a sweet salute that says more than their words ever can. The movie chugs along as Alex heads to his native Texas to secure enough votes to flip the state blue and reelect his mother (Uma Thurman, affecting an excessive Southern drawl). From across the Atlantic Ocean, he and Henry exchange flirty emails, later leaked online in a plot device that's curiously similar to one from Love, Simon, the 2018 teen gay rom-com also based on a popular novel. 

Red, White & Royal Blue coasts on contrived tension. After avoiding a relationship, then concealing one, and finally being exposed before a nosy public, the couple must decide whether to deny what's being reported about them, which would effectively end their courtship. You already know the outcome.You also know how Alex's parents will respond, but the Brits in Henry's orbit are underdeveloped, which tips the story toward an oddly American perspective. The most compelling strain comes instead from the pair's broad cultural differences: Alex has a working-class pedigree and a father (Clifton Collins Jr.) who emigrated from Mexico, while Henry was born into royalty but lives in the shadow of his older brother, heir to the throne. 

What starts as a peppy bauble becomes weighted with political heft. Eventually the film loses its sense of fun, lumbering toward a predictable finish line. Like other recent gay rom-coms — see: Bros and the Netflix series HeartstopperRed, White & Royal Blue is saddled with the burden of representation. Queer purveyors of a traditionally heteronormative genre are making up for lost time by overenunciating the feel-good corn. Strangely, rom-coms hailing from a less enlightened era, like The Wedding Banquet and But I'm a Cheerleader, are wittier and more subversive. Regardless, it's hard not to grade a movie like this on a curve. It's too good for Hallmark, not good enough for a deep-pocketed company like Amazon, and the ultimate example of centrism design to offend no one.  

Premieres: Friday, Aug. 11 on Prime Video
Who's in it: Taylor Zakhar Perez, Nicholas Galitzine, Uma Thurman, Clifton Collins Jr., Sarah Shahi
Who's behind it: Matthew López, director and co-writer
For fans of:Love, Simon and royal rom-coms like The Prince & Me