Young Royals is a Swedish teen drama television series set at the fictional elite boarding school Hillerska. The plot revolves around Prince Wilhelm of Sweden, his budding romance, and the drama that comes with it.
Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Its glittering metal showcases to the world that the status of the wearer carries a burden, a perception commonly misinterpreted as an honour. This is the world where Prince Wilhelm has been forced to develop in during one of the hardest periods in anyone’s lives, adolescence.
In the new Swedish Netflix original ‘Young Royals’, the ‘coming of age’ narrative has been altered from the overly-common high school exoneration to observing how teen royalty develops in the same world. The teen royalty within this show is not to be confused with the saying used on Regina George in ‘Mean Girls’ but the actual royal status of Prince Wilhelm played by Edvin Ryding. After a fight in a nightclub instigated by our protagonist, the family recalculates his future by sending him to a secluded elite boarding school named Hillerska. At this school, the link between Wilhelms youth and royalty slowly becomes separated as he integrates with other students that still may come from extremely rich families but are written with delicate humanity.
The show proves that as television develops as a medium to almost a cinematic form, we have collectively decided to break away from high-school stereotypes that have plagued teen dramas for decades. Highlights such as August played by Malte Gårdinger and Felice played by Nikita Uggla who both could’ve been wasted as trashy rich kids with no other personality than, well, being rich. The story manages to intertwine emotional investment through all the characters but clearly the best aspect of the show is the love story that is the front of the show.
When Wilhelm first arrives at Hillerska his eye is caught by Simon, a day pupil who comes from the town close to the boarding school. Fleeting glances and soft smiles are nurtured between them during the first few episodes as the relationship between them transforms from friendship to something more truthful and daring. Within the confines of this exclusive school seems to have blossomed something that has ascended Wilhelm from a prince hounded by all, to the real Wilhelm.
His sexuality is something that is considered shameful within the eyes of the Swedish monarchy but what this show is best at is re-assuring the audience that neither Wilhelm nor Simon is ashamed. This is one of the most important elements that should become more apparent in queer media, especially queer media directed at teens. So many relationships in queer films and tv shows emphasise that the two love interests feel humiliated or even distressed about what they share. This is understandable when the perspective they take is precaution due to the large mix of negative views of queer relationships projected by the world but shouldn’t be apparent simply between the two in the said relationship.
LGBTQ+ teens should know that whenever they feel a connection with someone that could be in the limelight of prejudice, they are not doing anything wrong. This forcefulness leads to developing toxic traits of rejection and internalised homophobia.
Young Royals constructs a queer relationship that isn’t bombarded with issues or homophobic storylines but allows the relationship to flourish as what it is, a relationship between two teenage boys who love each other.
With one of the best chemistry I’ve ever seen between two actors in a tv show, this will be a treat for both queer and straight viewers as a beautifully acted/written romance will always be enjoyed by any audience.