A royal wedding on the horizon means one thing: an inevitable outpouring of made-for-TV movies charting the formative moments of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s relationship, beginning with Lifetime’s up-coming Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance.
Given that the couple’s real-life origin story bears more than a passing resemblance to a Noughties rom-com plot (UK Prince meets US actress – now it’s time to win over his stuffy family…), it’s sure to be a classic of the genre. But lest we forget, before Harry, Meghan and the roast chicken proposal came another royal love story for the ages: that of Prince William and Kate Middleton, immortalised for the small screen as William & Kate: The Movie. Catchy title, no?
Filmed almost entirely on set in Los Angeles, William & Kate has just about everything you could desire of a low-budget royal drama in the vein of Netflix’s cult hit A Christmas Prince (rather than, say, Netflix’s mainstream hit, The Crown). Brace yourself for trilbies, mid-Atlantic accents by way of Berkshire and heavy, heavy-handed references to Princess Diana...
And we’re off. Here’s the title written in a generically upper-class font (Microsoft Word might call it ‘Downton Serif’), super-imposed over stock footage of a green and pleasant land that almost certainly isn’t Merrie England.
In a case of art imitating life, Nico Evers Swindell (who plays William) has a name that wouldn’t be out of place on a royal wedding guest list, as does Camilla Luddington (our small screen Kate).
‘I’m so HEPPY for you!’ Vowels straight out of Brief Encounter mean one thing: enter Prince Charles, who is about half the size of William, which surely isn’t factually accurate.
According to the Internet, he’s five foot 10 to William’s six foot three. All the awkwardly staged photos of Charles towering over the five foot 10 Princess Di are just fragile masculinity in action.
Speaking of Diana: sound the People’s Princess klaxon! The first not-so veiled mention of the late Princess of Wales comes, surprisingly, from Charles, who claims that a ‘normal’ student experience is ‘what your mother would have wanted.’
Ah, the classic university halls set up, with a king size bed and antique furniture.
A man wearing a top hat and black tie has just walked in to William’s room. ‘I’m applying for the position of your wingman!’ he brays. This has to be the most realistic moment so far. If university taught me anything, it’s that posh boys thrive on two things: terrible jokes and fancy dress.
Cut to ‘Kate’. Though her jaw may actually drop when she sees William, she’s so over the swarms of girls who are swooning over the Prince. Eye roll.
It’s designated girl time, so Kate and co are making themselves look nice (definitely not for William, though). Enter Mean Posh Girl, who looks like Cher Horowitz if she swapped Calvin Klein for Dorothy Perkins. According to MPG, ‘money, intelligence and beauty are a given’ for Wills’ future wife, ‘but you’ll also have to have the appropriate pedigree.’ Shady.
MPG is played by someone called Trilby Glover, who sounds like she should be Gok Wan's assistant, or mates with Trinny and Susannah.
Fake William is always dressed in beige. Appropriately, really, because he is in fact pretty beige.
Lecture time. According to IMDb, Wills’ lecturer is called Professor Durham. Presumably he’s on the faculty with Professors Oxford, Cambridge and Warwick.
Kate’s back, wearing a brown blazer, brown belt, brown bag and – we can only assume – brown boots, all while earnestly asking Wills about art. Things get philosophical pretty quickly, with the Prince musing that ‘it’s not me [the girls] like, it’s the idea of me.’
So far, this film could also act as a semi-convincing origins story for the Love Actually Prime Minister, so heavily is William modelled on a young Hugh Grant.
When is Harry going to be in this?
The horror: Kate is kissing a boy who is not William! I’m not sure how to feel about this (spoiler: I feel negatively about this).
William’s hobbies include ‘going new places and seeing how everyone lives.’
Fake Kate’s hair is almost as good as real Kate’s hair.
We’re in St. Andrews, ergo… obligatory Scottish dancing scene…
Followed by obligatory Hogwarts – sorry, St Andrews – snow scene.
It’s the Christmas holidays, so time to meet the Middletons, who are having low-key family fun in their Berkshire Barbie Dreamhouse.
Now, for meaningful comparison, time to cut to the royals, who are all sat round the dinner table looking miserable.
Here’s Nihilistic Emo Harry (who’s definitely never been to Mahiki) ready to do some exposition in an accent that barely tries to be British. ‘I’m not their heir. I’m just the spare,’ he emotes glumly.
Were the films of Richard Curtis this film’s only model for British masculinity? Yes.
Time for the infamous fashion show, the equally infamous see through dress, and lots of shots of William staring, open-mouthed. Stay cool, Wills.
In this fictional universe, Kate’s ex was called Trevor.
Now, just a casual visit to William’s house, uni mates in tow, to visit his old dad. William’s house being Highgrove, and his old dad being Prince Charles.
Now for some casual chat about pesticides and solar panels, because Prince Charles.
Wills and the gang move into a student flat, interiors courtesy of Laurence Llewellyn Bowen. Is that a feature wall?
It’s raining, which is film shorthand for… KISSING.
‘When I was 16, Eton came to Marlborough for a football match.’ Another all-too-authentic snapshot into upper class conversational habits.
In a sub-plot stolen from, yes, Love Actually, William is now fat-shaming Kate. Cute!
The paps are here, which clears the way for another heavy-handed Diana reference. This time, it’s courtesy of Carole Middleton. ‘I hate the way they harassed his mother. I don’t want that for you.’
It’s William’s birthday, so time for an insensitively themed party at the Palace. Wills loves ‘Africa,’ don’t you know?
Mean Posh Girl is back, making Kate feel bad about William’s friendship with the suitably posh Jecca Craig while throwing the sort of class-based shade last seen in the novels of Jane Austen. ‘Your mother was an air hostess!’ she sneers. ‘And your parents have a PARTY SUPPLIES BUSINESS.’
Margaret Hemmings-Wellington (for that is her name) may be entirely fictional, but she deserves her own featured role in season 13 of The Crown.
William has been very emotionally insensitive, but it’s OK because he’s invited the whole gang skiing – with Prince Charles!
Kate’s hanging out in a restaurant where generic Mumford and Sons music is playing… but wait. That’s not music – it’s William who – horror of horrors – has taken inspiration from Troy Bolton of High School Musical and is attempting rehabilitation through song.
Camilla Parker Bowles wouldn’t stand for this.
Not pictured: everyone in the restaurant signing an NDA afterwards.
After some on-camera PDA, everyone knows that Kate and William are a thing. So who should come crawling back but mean Margaret, inviting Kate for a horsey weekend in the country?
‘I’m not sure we represent anything except a desperate hold on an irrelevant past,’ says Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. No wait, that’s William, Prince of England.
Having spent their final year of university in one of the executive chalets at Centre Parcs, Kate and Wills are gearing up for graduation. Kate’s worried, but she shouldn’t be because, according to Will: ‘You’re going to get a job that’s fabulous, you’ll live in London in the Chelsea flat your parents bought for you!’ It’s funny because it’s true…
Let’s pause to digest the fact that Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall and William’s step-mother, has not once been mentioned in this script.
Fast-forward and Kate is now doing her fabulous fashion job at Jigsaw, where her day-to-day roles involve dressing up mannequins as Kate Middleton and adding straw trilbies to everything.
I’ve spent so long staring at Fake Kate that she’s started to resemble Nadine Coyle from Girls Aloud, while Fake Will has merged into the intern from W1A.
The true villain of this piece is The Media, because the paps are back and haranguing ‘Wait-y Katie.’ ‘Is this worth it?’ Pippa Middleton asks. I ask myself the same thing.
Time for a no-context etiquette lesson montage! The goal, presumably, is to transform Kate, Mia Thermopolis style, from a commoner-duckling into a princess-swan. Sadly, her teacher is not Julie Andrews.
And now, a waiting montage, which is about as exciting as it sounds.
Kate apparently owns more trilbies than the average pick-up artist.
Mean Margaret is getting married. As if!
Bored of being trolled by the British press, Kate calls time on the relationship by dramatically exiting a moving car. ‘You want space? You’ve got it!’ If I had a trilby, I’d throw it in the air in solidarity at this point.
It’s very hard to feel sorry for Kate when she is taking a soak in a lovely bathroom which she doesn’t have to share with anyone, because her parents bought her a fabulous flat in Chelsea.
William’s off with the RAF, but still finds time to flip through a magazine which has about three massive words on each page.
Diana klaxon! I’m pretty sure that William didn’t find out the verdict of the inquest into his mother’s death by channel hopping onto a news report, but mainly I’m concerned that the budget for the rest of the film has been blown on 30 seconds of Diana stock footage.
About an hour and 20 minutes in and we finally get a Camilla mention. ‘If you loved Camilla, why didn’t you just MARRY HER?’ says William, in a modern twist on the classic playground insult.
Really hope that Charles refers to mummy as ‘My mother, the Queen.’
Meanwhile, Kate’s out on the river with the rowing gals. But wait – William’s here. Stop the boat!
And… she’s jumping in the water. Is this Love Actually? Pride and Prejudice? Should’ve done my undergrad dissertation on the mis-use of rom-com tropes in William & Kate.
‘I love you, Kate Middleton!’ I mean, same. So do the boat gals, who are clapping and definitely not capsizing.
Time to jet off on a romantic getaway… but to where? I’m guess ‘Africa,’ because William loves ‘Africa.’ It’s a continent, you guys, not a catch-all term...
Correct. Time for Kate and Will to stand happily in a definitely not CGI tent, against the sky from the Lion King.
Psyched for a guest appearance from Mufasa.
And… a proposal against the Lion King sky. Fade out…
See you next time for Harry & Meghan: A Royal Romance…