'Red, White and Royal Blue': Biggest Changes Between Book and Movie
11th August 2023

Like a lot of book-to-movie adaptations, not everything from the Red, White and Royal Blue novel made it into its film adaptation.

Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine star as enemies-turned-lovers Alex Claremont-Diaz and Prince Henry, respectively, in the Prime Video rom-com, which premiered on Friday, August 11. In order to tell the First Son of the United States and Prince of England’s love story properly, director Matthew López explained to Us Weekly that some things from Casey McQuiston’s 2019 novel of the same name had to go.

“I watched the movie for the first time at the three-hour version of the movie that I first was given by my editor — and everything that wasn’t Alex and Henry had to go,” he exclusively told Us. “My job as the filmmaker is to deliver Alex and Henry safely on to the end of the film. There’s about less than 20 seconds of the movie in which either one of them doesn’t appear.”

López continued: “When you set for yourself that goal of serving that journey for those two characters, it actually becomes very, very clear what belongs and what doesn’t.”

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Scroll below to see what parts of the Red, White and Royal Blue novel didn’t make the movie cut:

New, Missing and Changed Characters

With the story’s main focus on Alex and Henry’s love story, many of the book’s side characters’ roles were toned down in the film. Secret Service agent Amy (Aneesh Sheth), Henry’s best friend, Percy (Malcolm Atobrah), and Henry’s sister, Princess Beatrice (Ellie Bamber), all had far less prominent roles than their book counterparts.

Some characters were seemingly combined with others completely cut from the movie adaptation. In addition to being Alex’s best friend, Rachel Hilson’s Nora Holleran shared many similarities with Alex’s sister in the book, June, who did not appear in the film. June and Percy’s flirty relationship was instead given to Nora.

Though the characters of Alex’s mentor, Senator Rafael Luna, and Alex’s childhood best friend, Liam, are not featured in the film, Alex is given a new friend in the form of journalist Miguel Ramos (Juan Castano).

Other cut characters include another Secret Service member named Cash and Henry’s mother, Princess Catherine, though the latter is mentioned in the film.

King of England, Not the Queen

One of the biggest character differences between the RWRB book and film is the switch from having a King versus a Queen of England. “There were two reasons. One, I was trying to really differentiate as much as possible our fictional royal family from the actual royal family,” López exclusively explained to Us.

Stephen Fry takes on the role of King James III in the Prime Video adaptation, whereas the monarch in the book is Henry’s grandmother Queen Mary. The change from queen to king was made prior to the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022.

“Between King Charles, Prince William, Prince George — for most of our lifetime, there will always be King of England,” López added. “And so, I wanted to sort of make sure that the film in some ways made sense to people for a hundred years.”

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Alex and Henry’s Families

Several tweaks were made to their family dynamics. Alex’s parents, President Ellen Claremont (Uma Thurman) and Senator Oscar Diaz (Clifton Collins Jr.), are divorced in the book. Ellen is married to Alex’s stepdad Leo, who was ultimately cut from the film along with June.

Henry’s mother, Catherine, plays a bigger part in standing up against the Crown for Alex and Henry in the book. Not to mention, Henry’s sister Beatrice is older than him in the novel, whereas in the film, she is the youngest of the royal siblings.

Alex’s Political Career

While Alex in the book is unsure whether or not he wants to attend law school, he is already a student at Georgetown Law in the film adaptation. The movie version of Alex also travels to his home state of Texas to campaign for his mother’s reelection, unlike in the novel where he joins her campaign staff in Washington, D.C.

Alex and Henry’s Romance

Rather than first meeting at the 2016 Rio Olympics, as they do in the novel, Alex and Henry met at a climate conference in Melbourne, Australia. Alex is also more sure of his bisexual identity in the film, whereas in the book, he questions his sexuality over a longer period of time.

During the group’s trip to the Texas vacation house in the movie, Alex attempts to tell Henry he loves him at the lake during the daytime rather than telling him at night as he does in the book. Alex also gifts Henry his key necklace in exchange for his signet ring in the film. In the original story, Alex places the ring on his necklace as a reminder of his love for Henry.

After discussing their relationship with King James, Alex and Henry greet crowds of supporters outside of Buckingham Palace by standing together on the palace balcony. In the book, the pair do not appear on the balcony but rather watch the crowds from inside the palace.

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The Email Leak

While the book is told entirely from Alex’s P.O.V., the movie shows the aftermath of the pair’s email leak primarily from Henry’s perspective. The leak also ties into the President’s reelection in the book as her opponent Senator Jeffrey Richards’ (Donald Sage Mackay) campaign is behind the couple’s outing. In the film, security cameras of the duo’s night at the Victoria and Albert Museum were leaked to the press.

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