I am not a royalist. I feel like I need to state this up front. I’m British and feel that it is a profound injustice that Britain still has a royal family. They are useless freeloaders and the country would be better off if we dumped them on Balmoral, confiscated everything else they own, and redistributed all their stolen goods to as near as we can get to their original owners.
I just wanted to make that clear up front.
Because that explains why I, Hannah Searson, noted lover of romance and romantic comedies, had not watched A Christmas Prince (and its extended canon) until this past Saturday. I put on my pyjamas, grabbed a grande hot chocolate from Starbucks, and—in the name of getting into the Christmas spirit (and not wanting to peak too early by watching my favourite Christmas films too soon into the holiday season)—I watched all three films. And you know what?
They were glorious in their sheer chaos.
Now, when I talk about chaos, I don’t mean in terms of the standard, Christmassy tropes of the genre. I refuse to denigrate a film for being ‘cheesy’ or for having ‘plot holes’. This is not CinemaSins. Instead, I am talking about the utter embrace of the universe’s lack of order. Time and again while I was watching these films, I was reminded of that scene in The Dark Knight where Heath Ledger’s Joker sticks his head out of the police car, letting Gotham’s night air wash over him as he careens towards oblivion. I feel like that’s the exact energy of this trilogy of films.
Please understand that this is not intended as a takedown or a criticism. I don’t think I’d have watched past that first film in the series were it not for those moments where I felt like I had entered The Twilight Zone.
Even the song that accompanies the credits, a very obviously cheaper version of ‘Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree’, triggered in me what can only be described as the uncanny valley for the ears.
Chaos. I’m telling you.
So, I ask you to join me in the sweet embrace of entropy and help me break down the Top 5 Most Chaotic moments in the CPCU (Christmas Prince Cinematic Universe).
5) The Pandora Bracelet (A Christmas Prince)
This is the only scene from the first film that has made the cut. My enjoyment of the Christmas Prince films is directly correlated to how chaotic they are, and for the most part, the first film adheres to the tropes and expectations of the genre. Therefore, the first entry in the Christmas Prince series is the one I enjoyed the least.
Having said that, the audience gets a taste of the wonder to come when Princess Emily (Honor Kneafsey) gifts our heroine, Amber Moore (Rose McIver), with a Pandora charm bracelet.
There is absolutely nothing wrong with Pandora. I’m white and middle-class, so I fully intend on buying a Pandora ring in the January sales. However, the idea that a princess of a country went out to find her nearest Pandora outlet to buy her new fraudulent tutor a bracelet featuring a snowflake charm as a present is beautifully absurd. Did she get the bus? Did someone drive her there and back? She is approximately 12 years old and she uses a wheelchair, so I highly doubt she went on her own. I admit, she could have ordered it online and had it delivered, but then that has me wondering if she has truly used the Aldovian finances to purchase a Pandora bracelet.
At the very least, you would think she had other jewelry to give to her new friend.
Therefore, I would like to propose a theory: this is an instance of savage regifting from Emily. Someone, probably a foreign dignitary, gifted Emily with a Pandora bracelet and it sat unused in the drawer of her bedside table for a solid eight months until she had the bright idea to gift it to Amber.
This bracelet never reappears in the trilogy—believe me, I was looking for it—so I can only assume that the bracelet has now been regifted once again.
A brutal performance from Amber there.
4) The Royal Wedding (A Christmas Prince 2: The Royal Wedding)
On its surface, there was nothing chaotic about the depiction of the wedding at the climax of A Christmas Prince 2. Amber and Richard (Ben Lamb) say their vows in a church and then go to the most boring looking wedding reception the world has ever known. However, this seeming normalcy is hiding a rotten, chaotic heart that suggests that Aldovia is one poorly placed gust of wind away from falling into anarchy.
Firstly, we have to discuss the fact that Simon (Theo Devaney)—the villain from the first film (and best character in the series)—is Richard’s best man. Not only is that bizarre on the level of character motivations, but it also suggests that Richard has no actual friends. Now, Richard is as dull as a brick, so this doesn’t surprise me all that much, but you would still think he would have a few hangers-on, keen to be seen as the close personal pal of the King.
In fact, this applies to the wedding in general. The church in question is not that large and yet it suffers from subpar attendance. Not to the point where it would be embarrassing for a normal wedding, but this is a royal wedding. This is the head of state of what appears to be an absolutist monarchy marrying an American, and it is definitely not standing room only in that church. It just really begs the question of how unpopular these royals really, truly are.
Even those who attended the wedding appeared either directly sinister or vaguely surprised it was a wedding at all. I spotted more than one woman in a long white dress, and even more in black, both of which are absolutely bonkers choices for a wedding. Did they think they were attending a debutante ball? Were they social climbers who planned on pushing Amber out the way at the last moment to take her place at the altar with the King? Because those are the only rational explanations for why literally anyone would even consider wearing white for someone else’s wedding.
3) Simon’s Proposal (A Christmas Prince 3: The Royal Baby)
As I said above, Simon is by far the best part of the Christmas Prince series. From pantomime villain in the first film to weird friend to the gang for the rest of the franchise, he has what comes closest to a character arc. When he appears in the second film, he’s just become a good guy in the intervening year.
Despite this, he is shockingly disrespected by the other characters time and again. “I don’t trust him”, “Neither do I”, Amber and Richard say at the start of the third film, even though Simon was Richard’s best man! You would think that that, in addition to Simon being the only one to identify Lord Leopold as shady (I have Theo Devaney’s delivery of “You don’t care for tobogganing?” on a loop in my head), would have earned him a few brownie points.
Instead, he spends the third film doubted by everyone, including his own girlfriend. Melissa (Tahirah Sharif) tells Amber, her best friend, all about her suspicions that Simon stole a priceless peace treaty and is embezzling the country’s funds. She does this on the evidence that Simon semi-flirted with his university friend and had a printout that was vaguely related to something financial. All of this leads the super-sleuths to suspect this poor man of committing high treason. Because that’s what we’re talking about here—it’s not just fraud or embezzlement. He would have been defrauding the crown. That is treason.
I really want you all to understand that. Because Melissa accuses him of this to his face at the end of the film. His response wasn’t even to get offended or be mad that his girlfriend thought him capable of, I’ve got to reiterate this, committing high treason. Instead, he proposes to her.
He gets down on one knee and proposes to a girl who, exactly 12 seconds earlier (I counted) accused him of high treason to the King. And she says yes, as though she didn’t believe him to be a cheating, treasonous scumbag mere seconds earlier.
Simon, honey, love yourself more. You deserve better.
2) Amber Signing the Treaty (A Christmas Prince 3: The Royal Baby)
Mere minutes after the aforementioned proposal, we have our next mindblowing instance of chaos. This ratio of chaos to boredom truly exemplifies how bonkers the Christmas Prince series became as it grew in confidence.
The plot of the third film revolves around Richard and Amber needing to conduct a ceremonial signing of a peace treaty with the country of Penglia. The conflict comes in when the Aldovians manage to lose the 600-year-old treaty in the 12-hour span between the rehearsal of the signing and when they actually need it. All the while, Amber is about to give birth.
None of that, however, is important. Because they find the treaty in the end and prepare to sign it.
As they’re signing, Amber is lying down in her bed as she has gone into labour. I feel like I should really cut her some slack on this one because there is no way I would be thinking rationally either if I were in labour.
However, that doesn’t change the abomination she inflicts on the world and my nightmares. Because Amber Moore (possibly Charlton), Queen of Aldovia, takes this peace treaty, looks at the place where she needs to sign, and writes “Amber”.
It wasn’t even in cursive. It was just her first name. Even Richard—boring, boring Richard—managed to pop down a signature. After an entire film of her kicking up a fuss, desperate to sign the 600-year-old peace treaty alongside her husband and the other King in the name of equality, she just writes her first name like she is signing for an Amazon delivery.
I felt like I was losing my entire mind.
1) The Leopold Suite (A Christmas Prince 2: The Royal Wedding/A Christmas Prince 3: The Royal Baby)
Dear reader, we come to it at last. We’ve reached it: the peak in chaotic storytelling. The moment where the horror and wonder of this film series truly settled into my heart like nothing I’d ever seen before. This requires a little bit of context, so strap in.
Lord Leopold (Simon Dutton), the former Prime Minister, returns to Aldovia at the start of the second film to sort out the financial mess Richard has made. He comes in, white-haired, dignified, all smiles—obviously the film’s villain.
Obviously, his evil scheme to bankrupt Aldovia is foiled on Christmas Eve, because as if it could happen at any other moment. The gang confronts the evil lord, and he goes to walk away. Then Amber pulls a bow and arrow on him.
Now, Amber can’t actually use a bow and arrow—Emily is the crack shot, but whatever. I’ll let it pass because it was a legitimately funny moment as she bluffed her way through the threat. Then Queen Helena (Alice Krige) orders Leopold to be escorted to the palace dungeon and, my God, I screamed. I have so many questions.
Firstly, it was established that Aldovia doesn’t actually have a prison system, which means this dungeon is the only place they have to house convicted criminals, so is anyone else down there? Why was Princess Emily not aware that her own country’s prison system was underneath her feet? Is this not known to the public outside the palace staff and the Queen?
Most importantly, however, Leopold is detained and imprisoned without a trial! He descends into this dungeon without a lawyer and with absolutely zero indication that he will be put on trial and judged by a jury of his peers for his alleged offenses!
Where is Leopold’s trial, Aldovia?
And that’s not even getting into the darkest aspect of this whole mess—that stuff appears in the final film in the Christmas Prince trilogy.
There’s one scene where Queen Helena and Princess Emily need to go find the treaty, and so they enter the palace dungeon, and it looks like a dungeon! That’s not a humane area to house criminals! It looks dark and dank and there aren’t even any guards!
And then I spotted on the wall, carved into the stone in scratchy letters “Leopold was here”. That is not a cute callback! Because Leopold is not present anywhere in that dungeon, which implies exactly two scenarios.
Scenario One: Leopold has escaped and fled to someplace without an extradition treaty. This would be easy as I’m pretty sure that the rest of Europe despises this country, and its royal family in particular for their incompetence. But still, that is an acknowledged traitor to the crown of Aldovia, who put thousands of people out of work, swanning around Europe on a yacht or something. That hits way too close to real-world political scenarios for my comfort.
Scenario Two: Leopold is f**king dead. He died in that dank, dark dungeon with no food or water because the royal family forgot he was down there—their own personal oubliette.
Scenario Two is far more likely, given that they imprison yet another traitor, Mr. Little (Richard Ashton), in the “Leopold Suite” at the end of the film. Godspeed Comrade Liddle, but you’re going to die down there.
The sheer level of unintentional horror in every aspect of this one throwaway plot point in the Christmas Prince series is incredible. It’s dark as hell, but also kind of funny. It’s gross and reminds me that I despise all monarchies, but it is also very silly. Most importantly, thinking about it has driven me absolutely goddamn feral.
Chaos. Pure chaos.
I need to go lie down.