Young Royals | Great responsibilities meet delicate feelings
Young Royals | Great responsibilities meet delicate feelings

Young Royals | Great responsibilities meet delicate feelings

Posted on 13 April, 2024



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Every teenager sees life as difficult. They have to deal with great changes, first loves, school problems, bullying, and new responsibilities. Some of them, however, have much more demanding duties, that make them different from their peers. They’re the young royals, who since the beginning of their life carry around the awareness of being a symbol for their land. And therefore they know they always have to appear flawless.

Young Royals
Courtesy of Robert Eldrim, via Netflix Media Centre

The Swedish TV show Young Royals had its debut on Netflix on the 1st of July 2021, ranking in Netflix’s Top 10. The second season was released in November 2022, while the third and last came out in March 2024. The series was an immediate success both with audience and critics, and Rotten Tomatoes praised its fidelity to real life. While applauded the balanced mix between the dramas of love and politics. Melding royal family issues with exclusive schools, teenage life and LGBTQI+ themes, Young Royals made its way from Sweden to the USA, becoming an international success.

Every cloud has a silver lining

Prince Wilhelm (Edvin Ryding) is second in line to the crown of Sweden. After he’s involved in a fight, he’s enrolled at the exclusive Hillerska Boarding School to end the scandal. Even though he won’t be king, he has to uphold the royal family’s reputation; so, he can not but obey. His second cousin August (Malte Gårdinger) greets him and they go to the school church. There, Wilhelm sees his old friend Felicia (Nikita Uggla) singing in the choir, but he can’t keep his eyes off the soloist: Simon (Omar Rudberg), a non-boarder student with a scholarship.

August and other rich students mock Simon for his working-class origins but take advantage of him to take alcohol into the college. In return, he obtains an invitation to Wilhelm’s initiation party for him and his sister Sara (Frida Argento), who has many socialization problems. At the party, he has the occasion to talk to Wilhelm. The prince finds in him a pure, genuine, and sweet guy, very different from August and his friends. They develop an immediate chemistry with each other, something that is more than friendship.

It’s never easy to come out, but Wilhelm knows it’s even more difficult for a member of the royal family. And it seems nearly impossible when he receives a call announcing him his brother died in an accident. He will inherit the crown.

Young Royals
Courtesy of Robert Eldrim, courtesy of Netflix © 2023

Building the authenticity of uncommon teenagers

Young Royals owes part of its success to its authentic representation of teenagers, and school life. As creator Lisa Ambjörn declares in the documentary Young Royals Forever, they wanted to give a true-to-life portrayal of adolescence. So, they cast real teenagers, not slightly older actors as in many other TV shows and films, such as Sex Education, or Veronica Mars. Ryding was among the first actors selected, despite his appearance being different from what they imagined. His skin was also marked by acne, so as many other actors he shows imperfections that contribute to the overall realism. Rudberg obtained his role shortly after, as he and Ryding gave a brilliant first rehearsal.

The show’s creators also wished to break away from stereotypical characters. So the school’s most popular girl has African origins, an exponent of the new aristocracy. However, she straightens her hair to align herself; while more controversial characters don’t appear as troubled teenagers, but rather as perfect students.

Young Royals
Courtesy of Robert Eldrim, Netflix © 2023

The show’s cinematography and color choices highlight the multifaceted public and private life, too. The scenes taking place during the day, or on public occasions, have a neutral light that reflects the duty to appear steady and faithful to the role. Whereas the nights acquire neon shades recalling Euphoria and the so-called GenZ aesthetic which mirrors the protagonists’ age. So the private moment of Wilhelm and Simon assume warmer tints hinting at their tender feelings. Whether they are in a sunny wood, in the simple and cozy Simon’s room, or in an aseptic bedroom of the college, they are surrounded by a soft, and warm light, that inflames even the coldest shades of blue.

Love is the death of duty

Before being a student or a homosexual guy, Wilhelm is introduced as a royal heir. He goes to Hillerska as a punishment so that he understands that he can’t act according to his impulses. His coming out causes an earthquake, highlighting the constant conflict between public and private life. As an authority, he can’t afford his desires to prevail on duty, and on the responsibilities he has towards his reign. His family sets it out clearly, too: if he can’t close this relationship, he has to live it secretly.

Young Royal
Courtesy of Johan Paulin of Netflix © 2022

The show gives a glimpse into the everyday life of modern royalty, modernizing a world that recalls The Crown. However, the exclusive school where everything’s different from what it seems evokes the Spanish students from Elite and all the shadows swept under the carpet. While Wilhelm’s struggle to freely live out his homosexuality shows some similarities with Heartstopper‘s protagonist Nick. All those elements meld in a teen drama that attracts also a grown-up audience for its peculiar point of view on coming-of-age themes. If any adolescent has to make decisions about the future, Wilhelm’s ones are exasperated due to their weight. Becoming king, and fighting for rights, or abandoning the struggle to be free to love? Choices that converge in a tender love story that evolves and matures together with its protagonists. A young and fresh fairytale to still believe in a love stronger than anything else.

What is true about Young Royals?

Sweden has a certain affinity with non-conventional royals. Christina, Queen of Sweden, reigned over the Nordic land from 1632 until her abdication, in 1654. She was an unconventional monarch and woman, for her time: cultured, she preferred male apparel over female fashion, refused to marry (and for that reason she renounced the throne), and had many female lovers. Set more than three centuries later, Young Royals underlines how the right to gender equality is sometimes still distant from royal families, and as modern as they try to appear, they are still deeply entrenched in the past.


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