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Economic Strategy and the Death of Print: Overthinking ‘A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding’

Because, as this Netflix sequel affirms, blogging is good

Netflix/Ringer illustration
Spoiler alert

Nowadays, Netflix churns out so much original programming that it’s hard to get excited about one thing before you have to move on. With one notable exception: Anything related to A Christmas Prince, the Hallmark-ass holiday movie that 53 Netflix users wisely watched 18 days in a row in 2017. (I am not willing to disclose how many times I have watched A Christmas Prince; that’s private information … until the Netflix Twitter account decides to ruthlessly expose me.)

A Christmas Prince is not a good film by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s so comforting—like curling up with a warm blanket and some hot cocoa on a cold winter night. It’s also very pro-blogging, as its main character is a blogger turned future queen of a small European nation called Aldovia—which, despite its very Eastern European name, is full of people with perfect British accents—and that’s greatly appreciated, as I, too, love blogs. Thankfully, the Christmas Prince–mania of 2017 and the clamoring of 53 superfans (actually, make it 54!) has not gone unnoticed, as Netflix has taken a glorious step toward giving the movie its own cinematic universe. Christmas came early on Friday with the release of the film’s long-awaited sequel, A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding. In the handful of hours since the movie’s release, I’ve had just enough time to watch The Royal Wedding several consecutive times. “Are you alright?” several friends and concerned colleagues have asked; I have not responded, as I’ve been too busy penning the lyrics to the Aldovian national anthem.

The Royal Wedding delivers on the same promise as its predecessor: It is cheesy, not the least bit subtle, and clearly retains a pro-blogging stance. However—and I can’t believe I’m saying this—the sequel does take some narrative turns you wouldn’t expect from a Christmas movie. By my count, The Royal Wedding features at least 11 of these major turns—many of which may greatly affect the next installment in the Christmas Prince Cinematic Universe, which I hope prospers on Netflix for years (decades? centuries?) to come. I have listed them below, and I must discuss each of them at length, because blogging—which, again, is good—is my only outlet.

1. Blogging and Royalty Might Not Mix

Catching up with our future Aldovian queen Amber (Rose McIver) for the first time in almost a year, we discover her blog—she’s since left Now Beat magazine, the clickbait-loving site that sent her to Aldovia to cover the royal family in the first place—has gotten ridiculously popular. “Blogs, that’s what I do for a living,” she says proudly. (Same.)

But Amber is also taken aback by the success of her blog, which is ridiculous. Imagine if Meghan Markle posted daily blogs in the lead-up to her own royal wedding—the page views would be out of control! Now, the royal family of Aldovia doesn’t quite have the same cachet as England’s, but the fact Now Beat was covering them in the first movie suggests there’s at least a sizable audience for Aldovia content—and therefore a sizable audience for Aldovian royal wedding content, straight from the source. Amber is either being really modest, or really naive.

As for how the blog looks? Well, it appears Aldovian finances can’t cover anything better than basic WordPress.

All screenshots via Netflix

Couldn’t she at least get on Wix? I’m positive serial royalty-sidler and Wix spokesperson Karlie Kloss would have hooked her up with a free trial.

Anyway, in The Royal Wedding, Amber’s blogging paradise is coming in direct conflict with her duties as a future queen. “I suggest you cease any activities pertaining to your blog immediately,” the family’s gatekeeper, Mrs. Averill (Sarah Douglas), tells her after one of her blogs goes viral—despite the fact it’s, to quote Amber, “trending with a ton of positive comments.” Mrs. Averill has a traditional way of thinking when it comes to matters of the throne, you see, and Amber’s blogging tendencies don’t follow “protocol.”

I understand both sides. Aldovian protocol is antiquated because it was established decades before the internet existed, and providing more access to the royal family is the type of thing that might bring the monarchy into the future, and into a closer relationship with its citizens. Queen Elizabeth’s decision to broadcast her own royal wedding in 1947 was considered outrageous at the time, but is now the norm for royal weddings in England, and we’re all the better for that. At the same time, Amber should probably establish some ground rules for her blog, and understand that BEING ROYALTY ought to necessitate some tweaks to her lifestyle.

2. Amber’s Dad Is Literally a Different Person

We didn’t get to see much of Amber’s dad Rudy (Daniel Fathers) in the first movie, since he stayed in New York City operating his diner, which is called Rudy’s Diner, since Rudy is a very creative guy. In The Royal Wedding, though, Rudy tags along with his daughter—although, Royal Wedding Rudy might be an imposter posing as Amber’s father. Here’s what Rudy looked like in A Christmas Prince:

And here he is in The Royal Wedding:

This is definitely not the same dad. This caused me some immediate concern—has Amber become so invested in the daily grind of blogging and wedding planning that she doesn’t realize someone has kidnapped her own father and taken his place? What happened to the real Rudy? Is he trapped in the Black Lodge?

Thankfully, there’s an easy, real-life explanation for this: It’s just a new actor, John Guerrasio, taking over the role. The movie even pokes fun at this, as Princess Emily (Honor Kneafsey) tells Amber, “He looks like a different person.” Touche, Christmas Prince–verse. Rest assured, new Rudy is just like old Rudy, in that he’s less a fully realized character than he is a collection of vague New Yorker stereotypes—you really have to just hear his “EY, IM WALKIN HEYAH” type voice for yourself—who loves diner food. (For the wedding, he prepared what he called “hockey puck sliders,” which were exactly the same as regular sliders, because regular sliders are already shaped like hockey pucks.) He’s so extremely from New York, I’d be shocked if he wasn’t also Tom Hardy’s father in Venom.

3. Media Is Dying

A Christmas Prince has its finger on the sad state of media: Now Beat, Amber’s former clickbait-happy employer, has shut down. Yet another victim to Facebook-algorithm chasing, I presume. Or maybe they just couldn’t compete in a world in which public figures are signing up for WordPress accounts. Overall, the shuttering of Now Beat isn’t the worst thing to happen to society—after all, this is the publication that once ran a story titled “Ugly Christmas Sweaters of the Stars”—but Amber’s two (only?) friends were still working there when it happened.

So how are they doing post–Now Beat? Well, in this otherwise cheery Christmas movie, Andy (Joel McVeagh) has taken a dead-end job working security, while Melissa (Tahirah Sharif) is living at home with her parents. They’re seemingly both in their early 30s, so, yikes.

At least, um, they got to go to Aldovia for Amber’s bachelorette party. Yay?

I just hope there’s no unspoken bitterness between the people who’ve had their lives ruined and the girl who’s marrying a literal prince.

4. Aldovia Is in Financial Ruin?

I told you this sequel takes some unexpected turns! The Royal Wedding does not, in fact, spend much time focusing on Amber’s wedding plans, instead shining a light on Aldovia’s current economic turmoil. Federal workers in Aldovia straight up aren’t getting paid because the government doesn’t have any money, which obviously makes a lavish royal wedding a public relations disaster waiting to happen.

Amber tells Richard she can look over Aldovia’s finances because she used to balance the books for her dad’s diner, as if solving a country’s economic crisis is similar to cutting a small restaurant’s straw budget. Richard rightly shuts her down, but still, there is a ridiculously heavy focus on the finances of Aldovia. The words “inverse returns on the new Aldovian initiative” are uttered. Investment in cryptocurrency to shore up Aldovian resources is brought up as a solution at one point. No, seriously.

What? Get your crypto talk out of my holiday movie!

5. The Aldovian Labor Strikes

As I said, people aren’t getting paid in Aldovia, and they’re striking because—get this—they think they ought to be getting paid (a very difficult point to argue against). This quite severely undermines the royals’ Christmas cheer. Even Princess Emily’s school production of some weird local fable about an ogre—she’s very excited about it, because in the play she gets to kiss a cute boy—is shut down because the workers leave in retaliation for unpaid wages. (And if you’re wondering why federal employees are overseeing a school play, I don’t think The Royal Wedding thought that far ahead. The only point is that all citizens are suffering, which still doesn’t really make sense unless the Aldovian private sector is completely nonexistent. Read: Don’t think too hard about it.)

Later, when the royal family gathers to read Christmas cards sent by Aldovians, one of the cards addresses the harsh economic realities the country’s citizens are facing.

Did Bernie Sanders write this movie? And more importantly: WHY? Part of the appeal of A Christmas Prince was that there was about five total minutes of conflict, and the rest was merely joyful, mindless, and cheery. I thought the sequel was just gonna be about Amber and Richard going on dumb sleigh rides and having a really fun wedding. I was not prepared for this socialist treatise on capitalism and privilege.

6. Cousin Simon Is Good Now—And the New Franchise MVP?

Remember Simon? He was Richard’s snobby cousin (played by Theo Devaney) who was next in line for the throne and who nearly became the king of Aldovia. Well, he’s back in the sequel, and shockingly, nobody is happy to see him again. Just look at these overly dramatic reaction shots.

Alfred Hitchcock is rolling over in his grave.

But Simon has, shockingly, turned over a new leaf. While everyone understandably suspected him of being devious—after all, he is the one that brought up freakin’ cryptocurrency—he has nothing to do with Aldovia’s financial struggles. He actually wants to help save the country, and is integral in uncovering the economic scandal responsible for taking money away from the citizens. (The scandal involves a financial group called the “Glockenspiel Consortium;” no, I’m not joking.)

Also, speaking freely? Simon went from being a punchable loser to the most suave dude in the Christmas Prince–verse. Look at my man rocking his best “Extra in an Off-Broadway Production of Les Miserables” look:

I’m not the only one who noticed: Melissa and Simon get flirty together at the royal wedding. So yeah, Simon is good (and hot) now, a development most shocking to me and my fellow Prince-heads.

7. Investigative Journalism—Alive and Well

The bulk of Amber’s bachelorette party—which, by the way, is attended only by Andy and Melissa—is spent trying to uncover strange discrepancies in Aldovia’s finances. You know, usual bachelorette party stuff! This means sneaking around the royal castle.

It turns out investigative journalism is eerily reminiscent of an episode of Scooby Doo.

8. Princess Emily Is a Hacker

“I know a thing or two about hacking,” Princess Emily, a middle schooler, says, with no added explanation, when Amber, Melissa, Andy, and Simon need help investigating some shady companies. This is really good for the purposes of the plot, especially since it happens about an hour into a movie that is somehow 75 percent economic policy, 20 percent wedding, and 5 percent hacking.

And here’s what it looks like when a preteen attempts to hack the financial documents of a mysterious company, in case you were curious.

“Not exactly Mr. Robot are you? More like Mr. Slowbot,” Simon says, a sick burn. But hey, hacking takes time, and eventually, Princess Emily uncovers a not-so-shocking truth: The prime minister is corrupt and has been taking a lot of money for himself, so that the public will turn against the crown and allow him to consolidate power for himself. Amber probably didn’t need Princess Emily’s help to deduce this—she could have just asked herself “Who is the only new character in this story with a semi-substantial role?” But now we know that teenage princesses have hacking abilities, which is important.

9. Actually, the Castle Does Have a Dungeon

In the first movie, Princess Emily, a budding sociopath, likes to joke to people that she’ll throw them in the dungeon if they piss her off. She’s kidding, we’re assured, because there is no dungeon. Except! As we find out in The Royal Wedding, there is.

This is a shocking revelation demanding some unpacking. Yeah, the prime minister should probably be imprisoned for this corruption business—but shouldn’t he be subject to the actual criminal justice system? Shouldn’t he stand trial? Face some type of jury? Go to a regular prison? Can Aldovian royalty really just toss people in their own dungeons without due process?

Feels like a slippery slope. I’m starting to think Aldovian royal history is a lot darker than this cheerful franchise lets on.

10. Amber Will Always Rock Converse

Even on her wedding day, Amber is committed to her brand.

I would love to know how much Converse is paying Netflix for this Christmas Prince advertising.

11. I Will Watch 20 More of These Movies

All told, The Royal Wedding doesn’t live up to A Christmas Prince—as we’ve covered, it’s more than a little invested in the finances of a small, fake European country, instead of luxuriating in royal wedding nonsense, which I’d argue is what most people came for. But still: It has charming moments, a happy ending, and the promise of more extremely silly adventures with the Aldovian royals to come.

This cannot be the final image we’re left with, gloriously silly as it is.

Give me A Christmas Prince: The Royal Honeymoon that sends Amber and Richard (and, for some reason, the rest of the gang) to a tropical destination to shake things up. Give Cousin Simon—objectively the best cousin since Cousin Greg—his own spinoff as a sardonic bachelor looking for love. Let Princess Emily and her prodigious hacking skills join the Aldovian Special Forces. I will watch them all; and I suspect at least 53 other people will too.