The New York Times Bestseller Red, White and Royal Blue (Macmillan Publishers 2019) by Casey McQuiston is a contemporary, queer, funny romance between Alex, the First Son of the (female) US President and HRH Henry, heir to the UK throne. In this absolutely delightful, charming and heart-warming story, friendship, romantic frisson and lust combine with political ambition and behind the scenes machinations, and royal protocols and expectations to produce a light-hearted story that is a joy to read.
Alex Claremont-Diaz is of mixed (Mexican) heritage and son of the first female US President. He is glamorous, charismatic, intelligent and has political aspirations of his own. He and his sister and small group of friends are millennial marketing gold for the Democrats and he has made the White House cool again.
Originally, he and HRH Henry Prince of Wales clash with words and personalities; the few times they must be at the same worldly affairs together, it is very clear they do not get along. Henry is handsome, suave, slightly officious and grand, a young prince destined for greatness. But the two gradually find they have more similarities than differences; their feuding (at first serious and then good-natured) soon develops into a long-distance friendship that makes sense because they are both on pedestals, alone in their respective country’s leadership world, with certain expectations of them both. Their altercations and then their bonds lead inevitably to tabloid speculations across the world.
But when the two fall in love, it is a secret that neither can bear to share. The repercussions are enormous, not only personally but politically. How could a future heir of one country be romantically involved with a rising star of another, especially when they are of the same sex?
This is a beautifully written, gentle and tender story of an impossible romance that, against all odds, might just be powerful enough to change the world order and the views of the world’s people. The writing is funny and authentic and the secret service protocols and royal personal protective services well-researched and plausible (even if it is not exactly what might happen, this is fiction, and in this fictional world, it all makes sense).
But most importantly of all, this is an uplifting and hopeful romance that manages to be both sexy and raunchy as well as gracious and decorous. Alex and Henry are delightful characters, as are their close group of friends. The men’s secret emails are alive with passion, and their infrequent meetings are genuinely full of desire, ardour and obsession. The crazed fervour of their developing closeness is full of enthusiasm and a zest for life that makes this novel one of the most positive, engaging and optimistic books you will read.