Ah, Netflix, where the motto has become, “Let there be original content. Oodles and oodles of original content.” Every genre is fair game, every level of production is worthy, every potential heartstrings-tugging saga might mean more views. Basically anyone with a camera, a little bit of production experience, and the right connections can get greenlighted if Netflix likes their ideas.
One such property that’s become a franchise is A Christmas Prince, which follows the exploits of Amber Moore and Richard, her hunk of a royal. There has been one movie released every year so far since 2017, and they’re better than Lifetime, edgier than Hallmark, and not bad fun at all despite a lot of possible eye-rolling.
A Christmas Prince starts out with Amber (Rose McIver) who is a junior copy editor at Now Beat Magazine. It’s a thankless job; the pampered writers Amber cleans up pieces for don’t even thank her. She keeps trying to break into the freelance market with no takers, so she thinks she’s stuck.
What ho, not so fast, Ms. Moore. Amber’s editor assigns her to cover Prince Richard’s coronation in the fictional country of Aldovia. Since his dad died a year earlier, Richard has been wandering the world and, according to the tabloids, courting plenty of eligible women. There’s talk of abdication, and Amber’s editor wants her there to cover whatever happens because Amber’s smart and driven, plus there’s no one else to tackle the story. Ouch.
With that overwhelming vote of confidence, Amber jets off to Aldovia, and things go wrong right off the bat. A guy steals her cab at the airport, and then the conference is cancelled because the prince isn’t in the palace, prompting a chorus of dismayed moans from the press corps.
Amber can’t come back empty-handed, though, so she sneaks into the palace and starts snapping away with her cell phone camera. That’s when she gets mistaken for Princess Emily’s new tutor and is ushered in to meet Queen Helena (Alice Krige) and Princess Emily (Honor Kneafsey). Oh, and Prince Richard (Ben Lamb) the guy who stole Amber’s cab.
Now undercover, Amber is thrust into a world of royal protocol and intrigue. Richard’s cousin, Simon (Theo Devaney) and Richard’s ex, Sophia (Emma Louise Saunders) are eyeing the throne, and Sophia’s eyes turn extra green when she sees Richard and Amber falling in love. Yeah, the ending is predictable, but it’s the really good kind.
The Christmas Prince must have been way more popular than Netflix was anticipating, because their social media team tweeted a bit of unnecessary snark:
You can imagine the responses this tweet got, many of them being variations of, “Sheesh, guys, lighten up.”
Netflix saw the writing on the wall, though, and in 2018 A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding released just in time for the holidays. I actually saw this film first because I liked that Amber was a blogger. Not only that, but everything she posts goes viral immediately, and she makes a living at blogging. It also helps that she’s frequently the cover story in various magazines, being a future queen and all. What a life.
Amber’s all aglow because her wedding to Richard is quickly approaching. They’ve spent the past year flying back and forth between New York and Aldovia, and now it’s the culmination of everything they’ve been waiting for. It’s going to be perfect, of course, and Amber sighs with joy as she taps out another post for her thousands of adoring fans.
A few weeks before the Big Day, which falls on Christmas, natch, Amber and her dad, diner owner Rudy (John Guerrasio) try to fly into Aldovia incognito, hoping the press doesn’t notice (They do). Fortunately, Amber’s new assistant, Mr. Zabala (Andy Lucas) is there to pluck Amber and Rudy out of the melee and zoom off to the castle.
The Royal Family is in a whirl. It’s not just the wedding that has people in a dither; Aldovia is bleeding money even though the country’s job market is humming, and Richard is forever in meetings and dodging picketers who are understandably unhappy. The country’s workers even go on strike. Princess Emily is starring in a play with the boy of her dreams, and right in the middle of the performance the theater staff turn the lights out.
Amber’s got her own troubles. The royal wedding planner, Sahil (Raj Bajaj) wants her gown to be the hautest of haute couture, but among other problems, the collar looks like one of those cones dogs sometimes wear home from the vet’s office. Failing haute couture, he has Amber try on an heirloom dress with a veil she can’t see out of. Eventually, Amber gets so frustrated she bolts.
Just like its predecessor, The Royal Wedding has the requisite happy ending. It doesn’t take much guessing, but I’m still not going to spoil anything. You’re welcome. 🙂
As the cliche goes, first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby, and 2019’s installment is A Christmas Prince: The Royal Baby. Things apparently only start to really happen in Aldovia around Christmastime, which is kind of the point, and a very pregnant Amber has another conundrum to solve.
For the past seven centuries, Aldovia and former enemy Penglia have had a sacred peace treaty which is renewed every hundred years. This is the critical year, and if the treaty isn’t signed by the reigning monarchs by midnight, Christmas Eve, the two countries are technically at war. Richard and Amber hope it won’t come to that, and nervously prepare for the arrival of the famously traditional King Tai (Kevin Shen) and Queen Ming (Morno Yeung), along with their attaché, Lynn (Crystal Yu). Sahil is back as well, only this time he’s planning the baby shower.
The fateful signing arrives, everyone assembles for the occasion…and the treaty is missing. Anyone can be a suspect, but while they’re looking for the treaty, the Paglia nobles must be entertained, and luckily there are a lot of Christmas-themed games and activities. Tai and Ming might be traditional, but they loosen up nicely. Tai even helps Richard build the baby’s crib.
Everyone might be friendly, but the treaty still has to be found. There’s a trip to the dungeon for Emily and Helena, and the royal baby may also want to join the party. Whether the baby is a boy or a girl won’t be a huge surprise, either, especially for anyone who’s familiar with pregnancy cravings.
I wish I could give the backstory of the Christmas Prince movies, but there’s none to be had. It’s on Netflix, and that’s all. The only thing entertainment sites usually mention is that the castle used in the film is in Romania and more than one Netflix film has been shot there.
All of the films work in the typical Christmas movie clichés–baking cookies, putting up the tree, playing Christmas music, sledding. There’s plenty of familiarity. Yes, these films are predictable and cheesy. They’ve been panned by critics and magazines (Vogue, for one). However, fans obviously love these movies, as do the cast members. Rose McIver likes starring in them because it’s a nice break from the dark and gritty dramas that are so popular today, which I wholeheartedly agree with. Who doesn’t love a good Christmas story, even if it has mass amounts of cheese?
The only thing I wonder is what a possible fourth Christmas Prince movie could bring. Maybe Emily could have a debutante ball? Who knows.
More Christmas is on the way Monday. Thanks for reading, all…
All three Christmas Prince movies are currently available only on Netflix’s streaming service.