You probably went into A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding expecting to see the kind of wintery shlockfest that made its predecessor, 2017’s A Christmas Prince, Twitter’s favorite new holiday movie. Instead, the Netflix favorite’s very Meghan Markle-y sequel takes a shockingly serious turn.
While the love story of terrible note taker Amber (iZombie’s Rose McIver) and bland prince Richard (Ben Lamb) anchors our return to Aldovia, we find the fictional kingdom is in dire straits. Richard’s new modernization efforts are bankrupting the country to the point where there are labor union protests that escalate to all-out strikes by the end of the movie. The question of how such a good idea could go so terribly wrong — and who is behind the catastrophe — soon becomes the mystery surrounding the supposed romantic-comedy.
It’s easy to assume the original villain of the Christmas Prince saga, Count Simon (Theo Devaney) is the one causing all of Aldovia’s problems once again. But, the real culprit is the brand new character of Lord Leopold (Simon Dutton) — and everyone should have seen it coming.
To start off, Simon, who spent the original movie plotting to steal the crown and kingdom from Prince Richard, is a far too obvious suspect. He has the sweeping black hair of any animated baddie ever, lurks in the back of angry crowds while wearing low-slung hats, and talks about cryptocurrency. He has “shady” written all over him. But, no one is tuning in to a sequel to see the same movie again. If we wanted to do that, we would follow Stacy De Novo’s (Vanessa Hudgens) lead and just watch Christmas Prince 1 for the the tenth time.
That is what makes Lord Leopold a far more compelling villain. Alarm bells should go off in a viewer's mind the moment Richard’s mom Queen Helena (Alice Krige) brings him up. As she explains, Leopold launched the now-failing modernization initiative (which means he has insider knowledge of the legislation) and fled the country for Monaco the moment it passed (so no one knows what he’s been up to). That is the definition of suspicious.
But Lord Leopold cements his status as leading possible villain when he insists a gullible Richard “stay the course” of the initiative — which is meant to create jobs for Aldovia in only Aldovia, leading to a booming economy — despite the fact it’s a spectacular failure. Again, there are angry mobs of union workers in A Christmas Prince, of all movies. Children's plays are being cancelled. It’s that really bad. And not only does Leopold want the project to remain exactly as it is, he uses the memory of Richard’s dead father to ensure that is what happens.
As Leopold tells Richard, the “revitalization project” was basically the late king's dying wish. Cutting it short, or adjusting it in any way, would allegedly be the ultimate show of disrespect to Richard's dead dad. Leopold is a master manipulator.
Towards the end of Royal Wedding, we learn why Leopold is so desperate to keep Aldovia on its current horrific course, workers be damned: his international corporation, Glockenspiel Consortium, had been using multiple fake shell companies to get the majority of the construction contracts that were meant for Aldovian-only businesses. That means Leopold was funneling most of the money created by the projects out of the kingdom and into his bank account in the Mediterranean, leaving his home country with the scraps.
Prince Richard reveals the entire scheme to Aldovia, somehow retrieves the money, and then gives it back to his subjects, who are all getting holiday bonuses now. Merry Christmas indeed.
Who would have guessed A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding was actually a thoughtful exploration of trickle down economics and the importance of national infrastructure… disguised as a Christmas rom-com? Take that, The Big Short.
Looking for more theories, recaps, and insider info on all things TV? Join our Facebook group, Binge Club. The community is a space for you to share articles, discuss last night’s episode of your favorite show, or ask questions! Join here.