A Review-Based Student Publication of Townsend Harris High School

The Classic Critic

A Review-Based Student Publication of Townsend Harris High School

The Classic Critic

A Review-Based Student Publication of Townsend Harris High School

The Classic Critic

4 Key Elements of Red, White, & Royal Blue That The Movie Missed


Red, White, & Royal Blue has taken the book world by storm, with its popularity increasing over this past summer due to the release of its film adaptation. The book follows Alex Claremont-Diaz, the son of the President, as he strikes up a friendship and eventual romance with Prince Henry of Wales. The rom-com left readers swooning and desperate to see the story on the big screen. After a long wait, the movie finally came out in August of 2023. While a large number of classic scenes from the book remained in the script, many others were left behind. Here are some of the most important things that separate the book from the movie (for better or worse), and why it is still worth a read after watching the film.

1. Alex Isn’t Really An Only Child

Much of Alex’s inner monologue throughout the story details his anxieties around being such a famous figure and navigating the world while his mother is running for re-election. In the movie, much of his stress is dealt with alone or expressed to his best friend Nora, but it seems as if another character in his circle is missing. In the book, Alex’s sister June is with him every step of the way and plays a crucial role, encouraging him to follow his heart. Without her in the film, there feels like an empty space. Her part was completely removed and there is no evidence she ever existed.

2. The Movie Isn’t Only From Alex’s Point Of View

The novel sees the world entirely through Alex’s perspective, with his charismatic personality often driving the story forward. When he and Henry have a short falling out about two thirds of the way through the story, we don’t hear a word from Henry the entire time. Since he is described as a more serious and guarded character, this added to his mystery and speculation. When a particular email leak occurs, we get to see it from Henry’s perspective for the first time, answering many questions that the book left us curious about. This way, the reader gets to see why Henry acts the way he does and the way he deals with his personal mental struggles. His character deserved more of the spotlight in the book, and it was refreshing to finally see more of him on screen.

3. Beatrice’s Storyline is Completely Missing

Among the story’s wide list of lovable side characters, one that has always particularly stood out to me was Beatrice, Henry’s sister. In the novel, she is the only person that can relate to Henry’s struggles with the Royal Family and the one he can always turn to for advice. Part of what makes her such a trustworthy and empathetic character is her personal backstory. In one of their many long-distance phone calls after someone spray-paints Bea’s car to say “Powder Princess,” Henry tells Alex about Bea’s long battle with addiction and how it makes her extra protective of her younger brother.. The movie never provides this backstory, and so much of Bea’s presence dwindles on screen. Instead of driving the plot forward, she seems to be more of a decorative placeholder lacking any major significance.

4. Alex’s Discovery of his Sexuality is Cut Short

One of the biggest elements of Red, White, & Royal Blue that makes it stand out from other rom-coms in its genre is the raw and relatable path that Alex takes to discover his bisexuality. After he and Henry have their first kiss, he makes a phone call to Liam, his old friend (with benefits?) and asks if what they had was ever real. Liam picks up the phone while at lunch with his own boyfriend and tells Alex that figuring out his sexuality is something only he can do. It takes Alex a while to come to terms with being bisexual, and his inner monologues of denial, followed by ones of ultimate acceptance are a mirror of many queer people’s experiences today. However, from early on in the movie, Alex says he “can accept being low-level into dudes.” This blatant statement strips an element of discovery there was to be had, and eliminates his entire “questioning” phase. 

As Amazon Prime’s #1 movie of the summer, Red, White, & Royal Blue provided queer representation that has been lacking from mainstream cinema for far too long. While it is definitely worth the watch for any feel-good romance lovers, the original novel will always  prevail with its raw storytelling and deep relatability.


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About the Contributor
Abigail Kronenberg, Literature Editor
Abby is a junior at Townsend Harris High School. She loves reading, Taylor Swift, boba, and chai lattes. You can find her on the soccer field with the school team or reviewing her latest read.
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