In the magical world of Netflix’s latest obsession-worthy Christmas flick, The Princess Switch, coincidences are often overlooked. For instance, casually running into your doppelgänger in a picture-perfect far-away kingdom is just as realistic as sporting a cap and flimsy coat in the midst of midwestern winter. Another element that's overlooked? The actual setting of the film.
The first five minutes of the movie take place in Chicago — or what is supposed to be Chicago — where we see Stacy De Novo (Vanessa Hudgens) and her sous-chef Kevin (Nick Sagar) frantically handling Christmas orders in Stacy’s bake shop, Stacy’s Sweets and Treats, which is apparently Chicago’s “best-kept secret”. We see some city landmarks, like the Chicago River, the Art Institute, and even a couple of yellow cabs in the background (but suspiciously no Cloud Gate). Many viewers were unimpressed with film’s poor editing, saying that parts of the film that took place in Chicago did not feel authentic at all.
I am enjoying The Princess Switch despite some baffling costume choices like why Vanessa Hudgens’ Chicagoan character wears a baseball cap that says “Chicago” in the dead of winter like she’s a tourist who had to buy a random hat at Walgreens. This tweet is brought to you by 🍷— Wailin Wong (@VelocityWong) November 17, 2018
watching this princess switch movie and they want me to believe this girl is sashaying around chicago in a thin ass coat in the middle of winter? y'all lost me already.— monica 🌟 (@shrillmonger) November 19, 2018
And that’s probably because — despite the Chicago-worthy powdery snow — Princess Switch was actually filmed in Romania. Yes, both the imaginary world of Belgravia and the very real city of Chicago used the eastern European country as a backdrop. Belgravia is, like other too-good-to-be-true Hallmark-worthy movies before it, a fake European country where Stacy travels to for a baking competition. Stacy unintentionally meets Lady Margaret of Montenaro (also played by Hudgens) who is days away from a Christmas wedding with her fiancé, Prince Edward of Belgravia (Sam Palladio). Stacy and Margaret nonchalantly acknowledge that they look exactly the same and do a Parent Trap-style switcharoo for two days before the big wedding. However, what was supposed to be an innocent opportunity for Margaret to experience normalcy before being crowned queen, turned out to be a greater learning lesson for type-A Stacy.
The eastern European country definitely serves as a better backdrop for quaint, medieval Belgravia. The palace where Prince Edward and Lady Margaret of Montenaro live in is an actual castle called Karolyi Castle, located in Carei, a city close to the Hungarian border in Northwest Romania. According to Romania-Insider.com, it was built in the 15th century and was subsequently used as a fortress during the Thirty Years’ War. The castle is a lesser-known tourist attraction in Romania today, but nonetheless, one with the richest history. Scenes set in what is supposed to be downtown Belgravia were also shot in the city center of Carei, which was completely decked out in Christmas decorations for the film — even the cottage windows were tinted red and green to match the giddy Belgravian townspeople in their holiday costumes.
While I am still on a mission to find out whether Netflix’s new alphabet of “European” countries all exist within the realms of the same parallel universe (remember The Christmas Prince’s Aldovia?), rest assured, tis’ the season of boundless possibilities.