TV Review: The Royals Season 1

“When a mother loses her first-born son, I believe she’s allowed to grieve…
‘Not when she’s the Queen'”

If The Crown isn’t quite your thing, or perhaps you have a real yearning for more monarchical drama, then you could do a little worse that watching The Royals. Showing on US TV station E! as its first ever scripted series, it is wonderfully, monumentally, trashy beyond belief – I mean it has Liz Hurley as the Queen in it for Gawd’s sake – and so quite easily falls into the category of guilty pleasure.

It is essentially Sunset Beach levels of realness, through the lens of Hello Magazine, as it follows a fictional but contemporary version of the British royal family through the trials of modern life. Liz Hurley’s Queen Helena is aghast when her husband, Vincent Regan’s King Simon, announces not only does he want to abdicate the throne, but he also wants to abolish the monarchy. Dun dun duh.

The decision is precipitated by the untimely death of their oldest son and the series looks at the impact on their other two kids, William Moseley’s Prince Liam, who is bonking an American commoner, and Alexandra Park’s Princess Eleanor, whose wildchild lifestyle is rarely off the front pages. Oh, and there’s evil Prince Cyrus, Simon’s bisexual brother who has his own eyes on the crown.

Thus the stage is set for all sorts of ridiculous shenanigans as Helena and Cyrus conspire to maintain their debauched way of life with lovers aplenty, Eleanor’s dalliance with hunky bodyguard Tom Austen’s Jasper hits the rails when he goes down on the queen, and Liam’s desire to be a new kind of modern Crown Prince is tested daily by his playboy lifestyle. As you can see, it is deadly serious stuff.

In some ways, it could afford to be trashier, even more camp (and this is coming from a show that already has Joan Collins cameoing as the Grand Duchess!) as it isn’t always as frothy as it could be. The Beatrice and Eugenie takeoffs are a little on the nose but as with Black Mirror’s pig-f**king, The Royals also managed to pre-empt a news story with a scene that basically predicted the former’s slicing of Ed Sheeran’s cheek with a ceremonial sword.

And so in full acknowledgement of its silliness, plus the strange pleasure that comes from seeing Liz Hurley so at ease on screen (and the not-so-strange pleasure that comes from admiring the buffness of Moseley), I have to declare myself a fan. Long live The Royals.

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