Today, we are going to focus our lens on the new Swedish queer drama that is taking the world by storm. Yes, we are definitely talking about “Young Royals”.
Borrowing some pages from old fairy tale romances, this coming-of-age drama focuses on the life of the young Prince Wilhelm of Sweden (Edvin Ryding), as he is shipped to a faraway boarding school as an act of redemption. Created by Lisa Ambjörn, Lars Beckung and Camilla Holter, Young Royals is an intriguing mix of teenage angst, fears and responsibilities with a LGBTQ twist. The storyline highlights Wilhelm’s forbidden romance with commoner Simon (Omar Rudberg), as they try their level best to support each other while braving the oddities decreed by the royal protocols. What makes this drama truly phenomenal is its realistic casting. They are actual teenagers, betraying the raw emotions and fake mentalities of most teenagers. The fact that they are royals or socialites doesn’t make their morbid reality any different. Young Royals touches on the base sentiments of our protaganist Wilhelm, as he faces challenges in an unfamiliar surrounding, while falling for his gay love interest. The differences between their social stature is glaringly obvious and yet the divide doesn’t tear them apart. Wilhelm’s royal obligations do!
When Prince Wilhelm unwillingly arrives at the prestigious boarding school Hillerska, he takes it as an opportunity to explore his true self, while having an unhinged romance with the non-resident student Simon. As they both grow closer, Wilhelm’s world falls apart when his elder brother Eric is killed in a car accident. Suddenly elevated to the position of the Crown Prince, Wilhelm is saddled with responsibilities and royal protocols. As the future King of Sweden, he can’t be homosexual, or can he? Is it possible to make a choice between love and duty? Will he toe the line and seek true happiness instead?
A Teenager Prince Seeking Freedom and Love
“Being a Prince is a privilege, not a punishment”
This dialogue reverberates throughout the series, as Wilhelm’s patience and endurance are tested time and again. As the second in line to the throne of Sweden, Wilhelm is certainly an eccentric character. His Mother Queen Kristina of Sweden (Pernilla August) loves to put him into a box tagged with royal protocols and Wilhelm feels suffocated. The beauty of this script lies in the freedom it allocates to its character’s depiction. Their emotions are realistically portrayed, as Wilhelm gambles between the need to be his true self or follow the decorum. Unlike most teenagers, he doesn’t have the liberty to live his life or learn from his mistakes.
After Wilhelm gets into a club brawl, he is shipped off to an elite boarding school called Hillerska. Wilhelm isn’t quite enthusiastic about this sudden change in his environment. But his entire world turns upside down, when he arrives at Hillerska and hears Simon singing in the choir. While the attraction is immediate, Wilhelm’s familial situation is unfavorable. He is constantly stalked by his cousin August (Malte Gårdinger), who acts like a bossy Head Boy controlling the masses. As Wilhelm and Simon slowly explore their feelings for each other, tragedy strikes again. Crown Prince Eric’s (Ivar Forsling) sudden death forces Wilhelm into the limelight and suddenly he becomes the center of attraction. Edvin Ryding’s acting is commendable, because he makes the character believable. The portrayal bleeds deeper as we feel empathy for the lost soul who is trying hard to accept his sexuality while trying to reconcile with his royal obligations. Wilhelm wants and desires a quiet life, with the freedom to make his own choices. Sadly enough, his position doesn’t afford him this leniency and as such, his life becomes a media circus.
A Gay Commoner Falling For The Prince Charming
“It’s alright when rich people cheat but when poor people do it, it’s messed up”
Omar Rudberg’s Simon will remind you of Cinderalla or atleast Snow White. No, there is no evil stepmother torturing him. Simon does have a strained relationship with his Father who is an alcohol dealer; he has a happy existence with his loving mother, quirky sister Sara (Frida Argento) and sweet friends. While Simon understands and respects his mother’s choices, Sara who suffers from Asperger’s and ADHD, is unflinchingly ambitious and obscure. Despite her constant criticism, Simon is very protective and caring towards his sister. That doesn’t mean, our protagonist is perfect. He is far from it, as he strikes an unlikely deal with August to supply booze (which is prohibited in the school campus). Although he doesn’t care much about socializing, Simon does his level best to help Sara climb the social ladder. During one of their class discussions, Simon’s brutal honesty draws Wilhelm’s attention. Thus begins their clandestine romance, which borders on mutual understanding and respect. Simon is truly an intriguing character and Omar portrays the role ideally. His interactions with Wilhelm will leave you breathless and begging for more. At times, Simon’s actions seem dubious, he never once uses his relationship with Wilhelm to gain favors or for personal benefits. The only thing he expects from Wilhelm is his affections and love.
The Prince’s Forbidden Romance With The Non-Resident Commoner
“Everything in this world is fake. All the people are fake. They are made of metal. But I like you. And that is not fake”
It would be wrong to say that this show solely focuses on Wilhelm and Simon’s love story. There are a lot of separate plot lines which tie into the main couple’s story. But their budding romance takes center stage, simply because of the beautiful chemistry between the main leads, Edvin Ryding and Omar Rudberg. We have an utterly humane Prince who unlike his arrogant cousin, doesn’t believe in societal differences. He seeks a normal life, where he can openly embrace his sexuality and be open about his feelings for Simon. Throughout the series, Wilhelm’s emotions keep oscillating as he struggles between the urge to follow his mind or his heart. Our cute couple are adorably shy, nervous, as most teenagers are in the beginning phase of their relationship. While Wilhelm has a hard time toeing the line between his duties and affections, Simon is always understanding. The couple grow stronger with each travesty; as Simon renders his silent support and Wilhelm begins to love him unconditionally. I loved the rustic romance, starting from the awkward first touch to their first kiss. Both of them betray a nervousness which is equal parts sweet and relatable. They are like most normal couples, seeking some stolen moments together from prying eyes. So while Wilhelm goes through repeated phases of denial, Simon still stands beside him patiently. He understands Wilhelm’s inner demons and supports him wholeheartedly. However, relationships nowadays come with an expiration date and Simon’s patience wears thin. When August posts a sex tape revealing Wilhelm and Simon’s relationship, the Queen decrees that Wilhelm will deny the rumors. As cracks surface in their already fragile relationship, Simon is forced to step back because he can’t bear to be Wilhelm’s “Hidden Secret”. I don’t think that I will ever forget their breakup scene. While Simon is oddly understanding of Wilhelm’s decisions, he is not ready to walk back into the closet. Simon is openly gay and despite their love for each other, he chooses his true self above all. The parting scene will leave you devastated as Wilhelm finally confesses his love, but Simon is unable to respond in kind. Both Edvin and Omar have a surprisingly refreshing chemistry and it is an utter joy to watch them together. The fact that they are best friends in real life is an added advantage.
“You have to figure out what you want and you can take all the time you need. And I respect that”
Flawed Side Characters With Riveting Stories
“You do know you don’t have to hide. And if anyone gives you a hard time, just let me know and I’ll take care of it”
The character that left me hugely conflicted- August. While I deeply resent his actions, I also feel sorry for him. As a distant relative to the main branch of the royal bloodline, August carries the weight of his long lost family name. His finances are in shambles and his unruly Mother doesn’t make the situation any better with ever-increasing list of new suitors. Hillerska becomes his secret refuge, the place where he redefines his identity. His emotions are mostly fake and he strikes hard to maintain the “Royal” image by controlling the boarders. He also bullies the non-resident students and for him, image and reputation is above all. His actions cause a shocking ripple effect that jeopardizes the monarchy. While he schemes and plots to gain a foothold, August is just a scared teenager hiding his insecurities. His polished act mask his true intentions and although in the end, he does feel guilty of his unruly mistakes, August is mostly unrepentant. Malte Gårdinger makes you feel his character’s wavering emotions; you can neither hate August nor like him. It is a very confusing dilemma.
The other two characters who continuously draw your attention are Felice (Nikita Uggla) and Sara. Felice is Swedish nobility (on her mother’s side) and from her appearance to posture, everything screams posh. Felice has been groomed to be picture perfect and as such aims to marry into royalty. While she seems fake, Felice’s character development is unbelievable. Although the series starts with projecting her strained friendship with Sara, they grow closer. Sara never minces her words and her unflinching honesty makes Felice reexamine her thoughts. As they became thick friends and Felice starts dating August, you realize there is more to this character. Like most teenagers, Felice slowly finds the courage to make her own choices. The scene where she angrily confronts her Mother will leave you speechless. When the royal scandal forces Sara to change schools, Felice works hard to find the culprit. Nikita Uggla’s Felice is relatable- she doesn’t mask her flaws and wears her heart on her sleeve. She is unwaveringly honest, bold and also loyal.
Frida Argento’s Sara on the other hand will leave you confused with her indecisiveness. Despite her honest demeanor, Sara is over ambitious. She hates her poor life and wants to be a part of the privileged class. Her fascination draws her into uncharted territory, as she uses the sex tape scandal to blackmail August. These two are an unlikely match; although August wants to date Felice, he isn’t faithful to her despite being overtly possessive. Sara on the other hand, uses their break-up as an opportunity to climb the ladder and make her mark. The fact that she is backstabbing her own brother is regrettable. If we do have a sequel, then surely Sara’s ambitions and August’s vehement nature will further divide our main couple.
Young Royals has a remarkable storyline with excellent casting. It doesn’t get any more real than this. Although this show focuses on the main couple’s relationship, the supporting characters are afforded equal screen time. Their stories aren’t sidelined and are equally important. The premise strongly projects the common problems faced by the teenagers with an added royal twist. It is nailed into the narrative that although Wilhelm is a Prince, he is also a teenager. Despite having a privileged life, Wilhelm doesn’t care about it much. Wilhelm is too sensitive and his empathy often makes him an easy target. Simon on the other hand is riddled with handling his family affairs while continuing fighting against Wilhelm’s inner demons. This show will leave you wounded, spellbound and devastated; while you seek definite answers to their relationship issues. Being a Royal isn’t an easy job; especially when you are the Crown. At six episodes, Young Royals is an entirely delightful experience, sprinkled with a truly encompassing romance and justifiably inspirational characters.
Rating- 4.5 out of 5
Since the fandom is apparently in love with their chemistry, we have some stunning exclusives of main leads Edvin Ryding and Omar Rudberg from a recent magazine spread. Don’t they look mesmerizing?
We also have some quirky stills of the duo from their recent event and we are in love with their adorable hijinks.