Red, White & Royal Blue (Book) – Biography Points

Red, White & Royal Blue

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Red, White & Royal Blue (Book)

In the ever-evolving landscape of contemporary romance literature, “Red, White & Royal Blue” by American author Casey McQuiston stands out as a beacon of creativity, charm, and representation. This novel, first published in 2019, has garnered immense popularity for its witty dialogue, compelling characters, and the heartfelt portrayal of a queer relationship. The story captures the essence of love and politics, blending them seamlessly into an entertaining and thought-provoking narrative.

Red, White & Royal Blue is an LGBT romance novel by American author Casey McQuiston, first published on May 14, 2019, by St. Martin’s Griffin. The story centers on Alex Claremont-Diaz, the First Son of the United States, and his romantic relationship with Prince Henry, a British prince. Upon its release, the novel received positive reviews, with particular praise for its representation of a queer male relationship. A film adaptation was released on August 11, 2023, through Amazon Prime Video, quickly becoming the number one movie globally and one of Prime’s top three most-watched romantic comedies.

In the story, Alex and Henry’s relationship becomes public when their emails and photos are leaked to the press. They are forced to stay apart while Alex’s mother, President Ellen Claremont, and her team manage the situation. Despite the pressure, Alex flies to England to support Henry as he comes out to his family, including his grandmother, the Queen, who warns them that the world will never fully accept them. However, many supporters gather outside the palace to show their solidarity with the couple. Nora, with the help of Luna, discovers that it was Richards’ campaign that leaked the emails and photographs. Luna reveals he switched sides to expose Richards as a sexual predator. Ellen eventually wins the election, and Henry joins Alex as an official couple onstage.

United States (U.S)

Red, White & Royal Blue (Book)
May 14, 2019
Title Red, White & Royal Blue
Author Casey McQuiston
Publication Date May 14, 2019
Country of Origin United States
Original Language English
Publisher  St Martin’s Griffin
Genre
  •  LGBT
  • Romantic comedy
Cover Artist Colleen Reinhart
Media Type Print (hardback, paperback)
Pages 421
ISBN 978-1-2503-1677-6

Background

McQuiston first conceived the idea for Red, White & Royal Blue during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Inspired by watching a season of the HBO comedy series Veep and reading A Woman in Charge, a Hillary Clinton biography by Carl Bernstein, as well as The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan, McQuiston became fascinated with the extravagant, high-profile lifestyle of the royals and decided to write a story featuring a royal family.

Themes and Representation

At its core, “Red, White & Royal Blue” is a celebration of love in all its forms. It challenges traditional norms and showcases a beautiful, multifaceted romance between two men from vastly different worlds. The novel delves into themes of identity, acceptance, and the courage to be true to oneself. It also addresses the political landscape, highlighting the impact of personal relationships on public life and vice versa.

Red, White & Royal Blue (1)
Red, White & Royal Blue (1)

Plot Summary

Alex Claremont-Diaz is the son of Ellen Claremont, the first female President of the United States, who is running for re-election in 2020. Alex, his sister June, and their friend Nora (the Vice President’s granddaughter) attend a British royal wedding. Alex despises Prince Henry, the groom’s younger brother, and their tension culminates in a physical altercation that destroys the wedding cake.

The incident is highly publicized, and Alex and Henry are forced to pretend to be friends to prevent a diplomatic crisis that could harm Ellen’s re-election campaign. Initially a damage-control effort, their fake friendship blossoms into a genuine one. They apologize exchange numbers, and grow close. During a New Year’s Eve party at the White House, Henry kisses Alex. Henry comes out as gay, and Alex realizes he is bisexual. They begin a secret relationship, exchanging flirtatious emails and building a deep bond. Alex eventually develops strong feelings for Henry.

Alex seeks advice from his mentor, Senator Rafael Luna, only to discover Luna is the running mate of Ellen’s opponent, Republican Jeffrey Richards. Alex comes out to his supportive mother, who advises him to ensure the relationship is serious. Henry temporarily ghosts Alex, fearing the constraints of his royal duties. After a confrontation, Henry gives Alex his signet ring, and they continue their secret romance.

Their relationship is exposed when their emails and photos are leaked to the press. Forced to stay apart while Ellen’s team manages the fallout, Alex flies to England to support Henry, who comes out to his family, including his grandmother, the Queen. Despite her skepticism, public support for Henry and Alex grows. Nora and Luna uncover that Richards’ campaign leaked the emails and photos. Luna switches sides to expose Richards as a sexual predator. Ellen wins the election, and Henry joins Alex onstage as his official partner.

Characters

Main Characters

  • Alex Claremont-Diaz: The First Son of the United States, brother to June, and the story’s protagonist.
  • Prince Henry Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor: A British prince, fourth in line to the throne.
  • June Claremont-Diaz: The First Daughter of the United States, sister to Alex.
  • Ellen Claremont: The first female President of the United States, a Democrat from Texas, mother to Alex and June.
  • Zahra Bankston: Deputy Chief of Staff for Ellen Claremont, engaged to Shaan.
  • Nora Holleran: Granddaughter of Vice President Mike Holleran, part of the ‘White House Trio’ with Alex and June.
  • Percy “Pez” Okonjo: Prince Henry’s best friend, and founder of several charities.
  • Princess Beatrice Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor: Henry’s elder sister, third in line to the throne, a recovering cocaine addict.

Minor Characters

  • Amy Chen: Trans Secret Service agent for the First Family.
  • Cassius (“Cash”): Pansexual Secret Service agent for the First Family.
  • Oscar Diaz: U.S. Senator from California, father to Alex and June, ex-husband of Ellen.
  • Mike Holleran: Vice President, grandfather to Nora.
  • Rafael Luna: Latino, openly gay, young independent U.S. Senator from Colorado, close friend to Alex.
  • Jeffrey Richards: Far-right Republican candidate in the 2020 presidential election.
  • Shaan Shrivastava: Equerry to Prince Henry, engaged to Zahra.
  • Prince Philip Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor: Henry’s elder brother, second in line to the throne.
  • Princess Catherine Fox-Mountchristen-Windsor: Mother of Philip, Henry, and Beatrice, heiress apparent to the throne.
  • Queen Mary: The British monarch, mother of Catherine, grandmother to Philip, Henry, and Beatrice.

Reception

Red, White & Royal Blue received generally positive reviews, particularly for its representation of a gay relationship. Kirkus Reviews praised McQuiston’s “strength in dialogue” and “rich, well-drawn characters,” while Publishers Weekly called the novel an “extremely promising start.” The Nerd Daily described the book as “an absolute gem,” awarding it ten out of ten and commending McQuiston’s “exquisite care” in character creation. The Hoya also gave a positive review, noting the novel’s “distinctive millennial humor” and “spectacular supporting characters.” However, some reviewers pointed out that the plot was not entirely realistic.

The novel was included in the New York Times Bestseller list in June 2019. McQuiston expressed being “blown away” by the response and discussed the potential for a sequel. Red, White & Royal Blue won a 2020 Alex Award and the 2019 Goodreads Choice Awards for Best Romance and Best Debut.

The 2021 Swedish Netflix television series Young Royals was compared to Red, White & Royal Blue due to similarities in some plot points. In August 2023, the novel was added to the Library of Congress LGBTQ+ collection for preservation. In a December 2023 interview with Forbes, McQuiston hinted at the possibility of a sequel, saying, “I would love to see more too. I think that’s all I can say about that.”

Collector's Edition

On October 11, 2022, a collector’s edition of Red, White & Royal Blue was released, featuring an alternate cover and a new chapter from Henry’s perspective. References to the Harry Potter series were removed from newer editions, likely due to J.K. Rowling’s controversial views on transgender issues. Additionally, a line in the story regarding the conflict in Israel was changed.

Extended Plot

In the bonus chapter of the collector’s edition, it is revealed that Alex and Henry are still happily together years after the original story. Alex is pursuing a law degree, while Henry continues his philanthropic work and has preemptively abdicated his place in the British line of succession. The couple is also planning a small, private wedding.

Film Adaptation

In April 2019, Amazon Studios secured the film rights to Red, White & Royal Blue, with Berlanti Productions set to produce. In October 2021, it was announced that playwright and screenwriter Matthew Lopez would direct the film. In June 2022, Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine were announced as the leads, playing Alex and Prince Henry, respectively. Uma Thurman was confirmed to play Ellen Claremont. The lead actors confirmed on Instagram that filming had wrapped by August 2022.

The film was released on Amazon Prime Video on August 11, 2023. Amazon reported that the film became the number one movie globally and one of Prime’s top three most-watched romantic comedies.

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