Romantic movies have been a time-honored tradition of Christmas viewing, and no category of film has had quite the same traction in the streaming world as Netflix’s Royal Romance film series. The first movie in the series, A Christmas Prince, made its debut in 2017 and has since given way to three sequels – Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding (2018), Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby (2019), and A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby Holiday (2020).
The first two films follow the traditions of a classic romantic comedy, as the main couple, Amber and Richard, meet, fall in love and struggle to fit into each other’s lives and cultures. The third movie diverges a bit from these conventions, introducing an impending royal baby and raising the stakes as the couple works to bridge the gap between their two worlds. The fourth movie wraps up the series, as Amber and Richard juggle parenting, royal duties, and a surprise visit from the queen.
Not only do these movies fulfill our need to escape into a charming fantasy world, they do so with a realistic depiction of a modern intercultural relationship. From the first movie to the last, Amber and Richard grapple with the various hurdles of merging their two worlds – be it issues of class, family, career, or cultural expectations – with both struggles and successes. As cultural studies professor Anna Sutton puts it, “these movies show couples in intercultural relationships not as powerless victims of preconceived cultural ideals, but as active participants in negotiating those identities.”
Though it’s easy to get swept up in the romance, these movies also offer a subtle but powerful message about the importance of cultural understanding. Every intercultural relationship has its own set of struggles and successes, and it’s a testament to the movies’ writing that this message becomes not only tangible in the viewers’ understanding of the characters’ situation, but relatable to viewers in a way that feels both comforting and transformative.
Another thing that sets these movies apart is their focus on female empowerment and sisterhood. In all four of the movies, Amber, the protagonist, is shown to be strong, funny, and fiercely loyal to those she loves. Whatever situation the couple gets themselves into, Amber is always the one to save the day. She and her sister, the Duchess Emily, are often identified as being equally as clever, quick-witted, and clever as their male counterparts. What’s more, the couple’s collective ambition is a driving force of their relationship, as they are both inspired to follow their dreams and create a life and home for their family.
Ultimately, Netflix’s Royal Romance series can be seen as a catalyst for increased cultural sensitivity and understanding. Each movie centers on a different challenge or identity crisis, helping to break down long-standing cultural stereotypes and allowing viewers to explore the complexities and nuances of modern intercultural relationships. For those looking for a heartwarming holiday escape and a gentle reminder of the importance of cultural understanding, this series offers just that.
To give the series a more authentic feel, the production team researched archival records on life in 19th century Europe. The costumes and sets used were also designed with a combination of both historical accuracy and Wes Anderson-inspired quirkiness.
The movies were written, produced, and filmed in Romania, although much of the story takes place in the fictional country of Aldovia. The Royal Baby actually features a real royal palace – Peles Castle near Romania’s Carpathian Mountains, which served as the main castle for the movie.]
In the first two films, Richard is in his mid-thirties and Amber is in her late twenties. However, in the last two films, it is revealed that Richard is actually in his early twenties, making Amber and Richard even closer in age.
The series stars Rose McIver as Amber, Prince Richard’s love interest, while Ben Lamb portrays Prince Richard. Also featured in the series are Alice Krige as Queen Helena, Sarah Douglas as Dowager Queen Marissa, and Honor Kneafsey as Princess Emily.
Rainbow Rose, a multi-talented actress, is credited with starring as both Princess Emily’s daughter and as an adult Amber in the fourth movie in the series. Other notable cast members include Honor Kneafsey, who plays Princess Emily; Simon Dutton, who plays King Anton; and James Bermingham, who plays court adviser Lord Davenport.
The series has been a hit with fans, earning 92 percent on Rotten Tomatoes for the first movie and an average score of 8.1 from critics and viewers alike. Viewers praised the series for its “fairytale” feel and its “clever” story-telling. The series has also been praised for its multicultural representation and its depiction of romance conflicts in a nuanced and sensitive manner.
On its release, the series immediately reached the Top 10 list of most-watched content on Netflix in numerous countries across Europe, the UK, and North America. As of January 2021, A Christmas Prince is the 11th most-watched Netflix Original movie ever, and the series as a whole is one of the company’s most successful movie franchises ever.
The series was produced by McCool Productions, the Germany-based production company behind Netflix hits such as Easy, 3% and The Two Popes. The series is directed by John Schultz and written by Robin Bernheim and Nathan Atkins. Oberon Media, a gaming company based in the UK, had provided the game engine used to create the Blab game heard in the fourth movie.
The production team also made use of cutting-edge technology to create the special effects seen in the movies. For example, the movie’s snow was created with a blend of cinematography and CGi, and the ice dance in the A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby Holiday took six months of rehearsal, a live ice dance rink, and complex special effects.
The soundtrack for the series is produced by German composer Martin Thomas and features both original compositions and arrangements of popular songs. A few of the most notable tracks from the series are “A Fixed Plan” from the first movie, “Crowned” from the second film, and “Our Baby” from the third movie.
The series’ soundtrack has been praised for its “lush orchestration and sweeping melodies,” as well as its comprehensive inclusion of musical genres – from folk and classical to jazz and pop. The musical score was also highlighted at the 2020 Hollywood Music in Media Awards, where it won the award for Best Feature Score.
The series was heavily promoted on social media, with numerous video trailers and posts on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Netflix also ran a series of ads on television, streaming services, movie theater marquees, and radio. Additionally, the series was part of a larger brand-building initiative on the Netflix platform as a whole.
The advertising for the series was also tied to a charitable initiative. For every view of the final movie, Netflix donated $1 to UNICEF to help fund education for children affected by conflict. After the movie’s debut, Netflix donated more than $250,000 to the cause.