Which Netflix Christmas special has the most accurate quasi-British monarchy?

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Which Netflix Christmas special has the most accurate quasi-British monarchy?

A real-life Brit dives deep into the royal families of Andovia and Belgravia

Since the reels of Hollywood first started spinning, British culture has been murdered again and again by Americans.

It began with Dick van Dyke in Mary Poppins; it continued all the way through to Lord Marcus Beaton on Gossip Girl, who spoke like his mouth was full of plums. And now, in 2018, the massacre of our heritage has found a new home in Princess Diaries-adjacent Netflix holiday specials.

If this is the form your Revolutionary War retribution takes, so be it. But as a real-life Brit, it feels only right to stand up for our rich history – to view both A Christmas Prince and The Princess Switch, and crown a winner in terms of authentic almost-Britishness. Let's get into it:

A CHRISTMAS PRINCE (2017)

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The kingdom

From the aerial shots of Aldovia, it’s hard to believe this is meant to be Great Britain. Way too many mountains, way too many wolf attacks, and way too much snow, although if you’re going by The Holiday school of American movies about the UK, you’d think it snows here all the time. It doesn’t, except in Scotland, and the only ‘Christmas Prince’ you’ll find there is an 11% ABV cider in a plastic bottle.

As soon as the talking begins, though, it’s clear this is meant to be some version of England. Firstly, they all speak The Queen’s English, and secondly because they have a press corps who literally do nothing other than cover the Royal Family’s every movement, taking photos of the renegade prince in glamorous locations wearing an array of different hats.

"I can’t even go for a beer with a girl without it being treated like an international scandal!" Prince Richard says, which is fair enough because it’s not like a Prince would ever do anything to actually merit the attention of the press.

The prince

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When we first see the titular Prince, he’s brusquely shoving his way into a suspiciously American-looking taxi at the suspiciously American-looking airport of Aldovia. Very rude, thinks our heroine, Amber, but as soon as he’s shaved his Ron-Burgundy-drinking-milk beard and turned on the charm at the palace, all is forgiven.

Richard is sensitive, you see. He’s a regular Prince Harry, labelled a ‘playboy’, a ‘philanderer’ and ‘His Royal Hotness!’ by the newspapers, when all he really wants to do is stand outside his castle in a gilet, practising his archery. If you’ve ever met anyone who went to Bristol University, you’ll understand.

He’s a looker, too. At least compared to his namesake, the real King Richard II. Who, unlike this Richard, starved to death in captivity. Although I haven’t seen A Christmas Prince 2 yet, so don’t quote me on that.

The palace

You will not convince me that this Bavarian monstrosity is not made of gingerbread, and that there is not a foul witch lurking inside, luring children to an untimely demise. Give me Windsor or give me death!

The royal family

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Where to start? There’s the stern but ultimately loving mother, the sexy and flirty probably-his-cousin Baroness Sophia, and Lord Simon (fucking Simon?), who is a cun-, sorry, count. Count ‘Duxbury’, to be precise.

Oh, and then there’s Prince Richard’s sister. If Richard is our story’s Richard II, then his little sister is Richard III: ‘Who are you and what are you doing in my palace?’, she growls when she first meets Amber, although she does eventually befriend her. Through blackmail.

If this isn’t enough, she later threatens to throw a journalist in the dungeon, which is all very Trumpian or, once again, Richard III-esque. Although it was his nephews he imprisoned in the Tower of London, before, you know, having them murdered.

The whimsical staff

Firstly, the whole place has one security guard, who seemingly just points at any intruder, smiles ‘Tutor!’, and gives them free rein of the castle. If you’ve ever tried to skip the queue at Buckingham Palace, you’ll know this is not how things usually go.

As for the rest of the staff, it’s a who’s who of stereotypes. Pike-wielding guardsmen? Check. Beleaguered press officer? Check. Sturdy Mrs. Trunchbull-esque house matron? Check, mate.

The poor orphans

It’s not a British Christmas story without needy orphans, and the ones here are the residents of St. Joseph’s orphanage. It is here that Richard builds the children a snowman, before making them participate in a truly horrific ‘Death by firing squad!’ snowball roleplay which ensures they’ll all be committing war crimes in his family’s name by the time they’re in their twenties.

The cuisine

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At a palace cocktail reception (red flag: ‘cocktails’ are way too vulgar for royalty), Amber is horrified when she sees what the waitress is carrying on her tray. ‘Jellied meat, madam?’, she asks, brandishing a platter of vomit-coloured aspic impaled with neon toothpicks. I know we’re not famous for our gourmet cuisine, but fucking hell guys.

Most British line

‘My luggage is at the inn.’ Each British town or city only has one place for foreigners to stay, and it is called only ‘the inn’. Don’t ask me, it’s the rule.

Least British line

This one goes to the hacked-off cockney journalist who bellows ‘TALK ABOUT A RIGHT ROYAL JERKAROUND!’

Overall authenticity rating

Despite the almost entirely made-up British phrases (‘Loosey goosey???’) and the fact that their flag is clearly the Nigerian one with a shoddy coat of arms pasted on top, the Aldovians put in a lot of effort at being sort-of British. Four shillings for trying.

THE PRINCESS SWITCH (2018)

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The kingdom

The setting of Belgravia is especially confusing for Brits, seeing as there is a district of London called Belgravia in real life. As soon as we see the picturesque snow-dusted Christmas markets, however, it’s clear that this Epcot-version-of-Norway is a far cry from the real-life Belgravian landscape of empty faux-posh restaurants and pigeon shit. Even more confusingly, this Belgravia has its own Wembley too, which is constantly referenced in lines like ‘Frank, we need to get to Wembley, on the double!’

Even more confusingly, Belgravia is just one of two fictional kingdoms in this narrative. The other is Montenaargh (?), which is confusing on first mention as it sounds like the character merely stubbed their toe halfway through saying Montenegro. The relationship between Belgravia its cousin isn’t clear – the latter may be part of the former, seeing as they both share heavy snowfall and similar accents, although the Princess’ Montenariano (??) accent just sounds like she’s trying to copy the Belgravian Prince’s one while drunk.

The most likely explanation of the relationship between the two kingdoms is that Montenaarro (???) is an approximation of Monte Carlo and Monaco, and that the arranged marriage is an honouring of our rich real-life history of marrying our royals off to the French or basically-French equivalents, when we’ve run out of our own cousins, nieces and nephews to marry instead.

The prince

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The hot guy from Nashville isn’t given much to play with as uptight Prince Andrew, who doesn’t do much to endear himself to the audience as he dresses like a realtor and constantly makes unintentionally sexist remarks. ‘You have a wedding to plan!’ Really, Andrew? In 2018?

Prince Richard, on the other hand, wore lovely suits made of expensive wool and rich tweed. All we can say is that Gunnar deserved better. Still, at least he’s an improvement on the real-life Prince Andrew.

The palace

Compared to A Christmas Prince’s icing-dusted candy wonderland, the castle in The Princess Switch looks more like a McMansion in upstate New York or a CW version of Arkham Asylum, filled with cheap Christmas decorations and badly-painted portraits of grandmothers.

We should have known when someone mentioned a ‘gazebo’ that this wasn’t going to be Sandringham.

The royal family

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Edward’s parents are, to put it nicely, awful people. His mother threatens members of staff with redundancies ‘just before Christmas’ because they have the audacity to expose Vanessa Hudgens’ scheming, while his father says he ‘doesn’t concern himself with the details’ about the children at the orphanage, as if merely thinking about them is enough to give him leprosy.

The whimsical staff

Once again we have the sturdy Mrs. Trunchbull-esque house matron, and once again we have the beleaguered press officer, although this time he’s also the prince’s driver and some sort of… private investigator for the king? His name is Frank DeLuca, which gives his whole balcony-snooping, lurking-in-the-shadows thing more of a Sopranos vibe than the Downton Abbey feel they were going for.

There’s also a chef who everyone calls ‘Chef’, which made me feel bad for chef Chef. Give him the spin-off he deserves.

The poor orphans

The children at St. Andrew’s orphanage are – how can we put this – sadder than the orphans of A Christmas Prince. No surprise there; a royal visit to the orphanage is something that’s ‘never been done before’, according to Prince Edward. What a prick.

The cuisine

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Cakes are big in Belgravia, as the thinly-veiled Bake Off parody at ‘Wembley Studios’ (which looks suspiciously like Aldovia Airport) shows. Mary Berry has been replaced with enormous flashy screens and a waxen-looking yank here, and the desserts themselves look nothing like proper British fare. Where are the Fat Rascals? The Battenburgs? The Spotted Dicks, for Christ’s sake?

Still, as no-one clocks the equivalent of Meghan Markle competing on a primetime baking show, the prize goes to one of the Vanessa Hudgenses. And when her plot is uncovered and all’s well that ends well, Prince Edward has the idea of moving her bakery to Belgravia, just as Prince Richard decided to move Amber’s dad’s deli to Aldovia. Baby gets what baby wants.

Most British line

It’s a toss-up between ‘A warm horse is a happy horse’ and ‘It’s always custom to wear a hat to tea’.

Least British line

‘Frank, the nearest toy emporium, on the double!’ Someone should tell the screenwriters that Brits never say ‘on the double’, even if we genuinely need to get somewhere on the double really quickly.

Overall authenticity rating

The fact that someone at one point literally says ‘Keep calm and carry on’ is enough to make all real Brits spit out their tea and phone up Scotland Yard.

THE WINNER

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Rule Aldovia, as they say. There’s always next Christmas, Belgravia, and we’ll be eagerly awaiting The Princess Switch 2: On The Double.

@thebobpalmer

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