By Emily Hanson || Arts and Leisure Editor

Back in 2019, novelist Casey McQuiston published their debut book, entitled Red, White & Royal Blue. I haven’t been shy about my love for Casey McQuiston, per my glowing review of her sophomore novel, One Last Stop, and her debut novel will always hold a special place in my heart. Red, White, and Royal Blue tells the story of two boys, Alex Claremont-Diaz, the First Son of the (fictional) United States President Ellen Claremont, and Henry Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor, the Prince of England and grandson of the (fictional) monarch, Queen Mary. In the novel’s fabricated reality, Alex and Henry have never been on good terms with one another, having met during various different political events. But the story picks up in 2018 when President Claremont is running for re-election and Alex is just about to graduate from college. After the disastrous wedding of Prince Phillip, Henry’s older brother (during which Alex and Henry manage to send the very expensive cake crashing down onto them), both boys must appear friendly in public for damage control. From Alex’s perspective, the two still despise each other, but we quickly learn this may not be the case. So, Alex’s life tilts on a new axis, romantically and politically, and the novel explores his new developments and their side effects on him and the world.

 If you have not read this book, I sincerely suggest you do, especially with the impending release of its film of the same name, Red, White & Royal Blue. Directed by Matthew Lopez, the movie is set for release on  Amazon Prime on August 11th. The cast is stacked, with Taylor Zakhar Perez as Alex, Nicholas Galitzine as Prince Henry, Uma Thurman as President Claremont, and Rachel Hilson as Nora, Alex’s best friend and former girlfriend. 

There has been a lot of controversy surrounding this film from fans of the book who have found issues with the cast and story (as seen through trailers) compared to McQuiston’s novel. When the first reports of the cast were released, fans expressed disappointment in the ages of Perez and Galitzine, who are roughly five years older than the ages of their characters in the book. Fans said they appeared too old and were not exactly what they envisioned for the beloved couple to look like, especially in terms of their off-screen chemistry. Prior to the beginning of the SAG-AFTRA strike on July 14th, promotional interviews for Red, White & Royal Blue saw Perez and Galitzine answering questions together, but some comments deemed their interactions too formal, or awkward. 

 In addition, after months of waiting, the first trailer for the film was released on July 6th. Fans quickly realized and one character from the book was notably absent, Alex’s sister, June. June has a very strong presence in the novel, helping Alex find himself and manage the stress of the Presidential campaign. A second teaser, which was released a few weeks later, seemingly confirmed June’s absence, unfortunately, which has been met with heavy disapproval. Otherwise, though, other changes have appeared minimal, such as the Queen of England being the King of England in the film. General opinions seem mixed on the film itself; some fans are very excited to see pivotal book scenes come to life, while others are disappointed based on the tone of the trailers. The romantic, coming-of-age discovery narrative from the book is almost being transformed into an entertaining, goofy rom-com, which may suppress the integrity of a vital queer love story. 

Despite the divide in opinions over expectations, the film is highly anticipated, and will certainly reach a wide audience directly on a streaming platform. All we can do is wait and see, and I will definitely be watching. Make sure you check out Casey McQuiston’s wonderful writing and compare it to the film on release day, August 11th!

Rising junior Emily Hanson is the Arts and Leisure Editor. Her email is