Two American women. Two princes with British accents. Two lavish royal weddings broadcast to our living room. This year, we groundlings were lucky enough to get a glimpse into the propagation of royal bloodlines — one real, one we wish were real. Because if the events seen in A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, out November 30, actually happened, we’d have to rewrite our conception of reality.
From the start, the sequel to the Netflix movie phenomenon A Christmas Prince positioned itself as a follow-up to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry’s May wedding. In a teaser trailer, Amber (Rose McIver), the American blogger-turned-imposter-turned-fiancée, watches Markle’s wedding with her soon-to-be-husband, King Richard (Ben Lamb). She takes copious stream-of-consciousness notes, as is her habit: “Am I in too deep with this wedding? Make sure no jellied meat on menu. Wedding hashtag?! Must not become a meme.”
Unfortunately for Amber, she was born to be a meme. A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding takes the elements present in Markle and Harry’s wedding — pomp, circumstance, intrusive American in-laws — and feeds it through a parodic Hallmark movie machine, then sprinkles it with Christmas dust.
So, how did Amber and Richard’s Aldovian extravaganza in A Christmas Prince compare to Markle and Harry’s wedding back in May? We investigated.
What time of the year is it?
Since Richard is, by classification, a “Christmas” prince, it made sense for Amber and Richard to have a wedding at Christmas time. According to all Christmas movies, this time of year is especially enchanted, and when weddings should take place.
Markle and Harry shirked such rules and went for a springtime wedding. They were married on May 19, 2018. Apparently, they chose this day because a royal wedding had never before taken place on May 19. This was their equivalent of staking their flag in the calendar.
How much say does Amber have in her own wedding?
Though Amber’s full-time job at the palace is planning the wedding, she has zero – really, zero — input at first. Sahil (Raj Bajaj) is set on implementing his avant garde vision for the wedding with military precision. Finally, Amber stands up for herself. Ultimately, everything in the wedding is the product of Amber’s taste. This is who she is, people.
What did the brides wear?
Oh, the dress. Initially, Sunil adorns Amber in a white monstrosity that lies somewhere between a wedding cake and a haute couture-clad robot. This silhouette is intended to “set the image” of a queen. But does a queen wear a floppy veil, which rests on Amber’s head like a the water-logged hood of a disposable poncho? Does a (modern day) queen wear dresses with strange Elizabethan collars? Or an ill-fitting belt that cinches the dress in unflattering folds?
Apparently, this dress is Queen Helena’s (Alice Krige) last request before handing over the reigns of queen to Amber. Are we supposed to believe that the Queen, who wears sleek and simple clothing, actually thinks this dress is chic? Or, could there be a conspiracy theory at work? Maybe Queen Helena, who appears to be kind, really wants to sabotage her soon-to-be daughter-in-law by dressing her as the Abominable Snowman.
Ultimately, Amber escapes from the claws of that ivory prison and wears a (vaguely business casual) dress of her own choosing. Amber’s wedding dress has long sleeves and a tight bodice, which looks like the upper half of a pantsuit.
And what did they wear on their feet?
Both royals-to-be are allowed their signature style moves. Markle has her messy bun; Amber has...Converse. In A Christmas Prince, Amber wears red Converse beneath her gown to the coronation ceremony. As she walks down the aisle, she wears clearly beat-up white Converse. Markle, to no one’s surprise, did not wear Converse. She wore Givenchy and later Aquaruzza pumps.
How did they wear their hair?
Markle and Amber have at least this much in common. They wore their hair in messy buns to their weddings. Amber decided to eliminate the veil entirely. Probably so she could make more room for the massive red crown that is precariously balanced on her head following the ceremony. Markle borrowed a diamond tiara from Queen Elizabeth II for the big day.
Where was the ceremony?
Like Markle and Harry, Richard and Amber are married before a wall of stained glass in a church. But what kind of church? The priest’s bushy ponytail, which resembles the Orthodox priests of my youth, indicates Aldovians are some kind of Christian Orthodox. Or perhaps it’s just a coincidence, and priest was portrayed by the nearest extra on set in Romania.
Markle and Harry’s wedding ceremony at St. George’s Chapel was officiated by Most Reverend Justin Welby, aka the Archbishop of Canterbury. But it was Bishop Michael Curry, the Chicago-born head of the Episcopalian church, who nearly outshined the couple. In his memorable sermon, Bishop Curry elevated the union of two people into a meditation on the power of love to do good. Amber and Richard’s wedding featured no such spiritual elevation.
How were their nails adorned?
In a move that surely made headlines in the Aldovian newspaper, Amber did not have her nails painted for her wedding. That kind of casualness would not fly under Queen Elizabeth II’s reign. Among many other etiquette customs, members of the British royal family are expected to have neatly groomed nails. Women can only paint their nails nude or light pink. For her wedding, Markle appeared to use the Queen’s favorite shade: Essie Ballet Slippers.
And what of the cake?
Markle and Harry broke with tradition by having — gasp — lemon elderflower sponge cake instead of the traditional fruit cake. Amber and Richard broke with good taste (sorry) by having Bratz dolls adorn their multi-story wedding cake.
What did the guests eat?
Amber came to Aldovia with a caterer in tow: her dad, Rudy (John Guerrasio), who owns a restaurant in New York. In the time since the last movie, Rudy had clearly undergone life changes we hope won’t affect his career (he has a different face, because he's played by a different actor). After Amber slashes Sahil’s vision for the wedding, she announces that the guests will be dining on food prepared by Rudy of Rudy’s Diner in Manhattan. So, pastrami sandwiches and sodium-rich chicken noodle soup, and no jellied food in sight.
Even if Rudy is the kind of guy who would proudly wear a “World’s Best Chef” apron, he is not the world’s best chef. Clare Smyth, the woman who catered Markle and Harry’s 200-person reception at Frogmore House, is. In 2018, Smyth was named the world’s best female chef by an awards body called the World’s Best 50 Restaurants.
How was the party?
One thing’s guaranteed: There wasn’t any guest list overlap between these two royal weddings. Markle and Harry’s exclusive wedding reception was attended by princes, princesses, Priyanka Chopra, Serena Williams, the Clooneys, and more. James Corden was the emcee. Elton John sang “The Circle of Life,” which could also have been a reference to the couple's inner circle of friends present at the reception.
Despite the hubbub, Amber and Richard’s reception seemed like it was attended by second-tier dignitaries. Not a single paparazzi-worthy face in the crowd.
How many people watched the nuptials?
In the teaser trailer, Prince Richard ominously warns Amber that the “whole world will be watching” their wedding. And yet! Not one camera is present at the wedding, and there seem to be no more than 100 people in attendance. Since Netflix is notoriously tight-lipped about sharing data, we’ll never know how many people saw Richard and Amber tie the knot.
On the other hand, a good proportion of the world’s population saw Markle and Harry get married. An estimated 1.9 billion people tuned in for the wedding.
How's newlywed life going?
When Markle married Harry, she became a new symbol for the monarchy. While she’s one of the most famous women in the world, she can't actually affect political processes. None of the royals can. Thank you, constitutional monarchies.
Amber, on the other hand, is only a few acts of evil away from becoming Cersei, if she so chooses. A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding seems to indicate that King Richard has actual power over the policies in Aldovia. He institutes the New Aldovia Initiative to “modernize” the country (speaking of which, what decade is Aldovia stalled in?). Richard is the government, because Aldovia's a straight-up monarchy, baby. So, after marrying Richard, Amber is going to be an old-school queen: Dripping with power. Now that’s a third installment I’d sign up for: A Christmas Prince: The Halloween Queen.