6 Major Changes the “Red, White & Royal Blue” Movie Makes to the Book
Content warning: the following story contains spoilers for “Red, White & Royal Blue.”
Turning a beloved novel into a film is always a challenge, since there are inevitably things from the book that will have to be left out. In the new movie “Red, White & Royal Blue,” based on Casey McQuiston’s best-selling romance novel of the same name, director Matthew Lopez (who co-wrote the screenplay with Ted Malawer) had to make some choices about what to edit or change when adapting the book for the big screen. The book and movie both tell the love story of Alex Claremont-Diaz (Taylor Zakhar Perez), first son of the United States, and Britain’s Prince Henry (Nicholas Galitzine), and their general trajectory is about the same in both tellings. But the world around them is quite a bit different between the book and the film, with some beloved characters getting completely cut from the narrative.
Ahead, these are the biggest differences between the “Red, White & Royal Blue” book and movie.
Alex’s Sister, June, Doesn’t Exist in the Movie
In the book, Alex’s relationship with his older sister June is a major part of the plot. Alex is finishing up his senior year at Georgetown (in the movie he seems to be a little bit older, and his college days aren’t mentioned), and June is living with him and his mom, President Ellen Claremont (Uma Thurman in the film), at the White House, at least partially because she feels very protective of her brother and his political ambitions. Alex, June, and Nora Holleran (granddaughter of the vice president and played by Rachel Hilson on screen) make up the so-called “White House Trio,” who first the campaign and later the administration are happy to use to advance their agenda. June does not exist in the film, and Alex has less angst about figuring out his future and connection to his mom’s aspirations, too.
Alex’s Parents Are Still Together in the Movie
In the book, Ellen and Alex’s dad Oscar Diaz (Clifton Collins Jr.), a US senator, are divorced, and she’s remarried to Leo. In the movie, the two parents are still happily together.
Rafael Luna Doesn’t Exist in the Movie
In the book, Senator Rafael Luna is a Claremont-Diaz family friend who Alex deeply idolizes. Luna eventually seems to betray the family before ultimately proving his loyalty. The character – and his central role in the aftermath of the revelation of Alex and Henry’s relationship – is not present in the film.
Alex and Henry’s Relationship Is Revealed Differently in the Movie
In the book, rumors start to spread that Alex and Henry are involved, so Henry fakes a relationship with June, while Alex pretends to have rekindled a romance with Nora. Yet, they get caught on camera kissing, and incriminating photos are printed in the tabloids – alongside a major leak of all their emails. They ultimately learn that the reveal was part of a conspiracy from the Republican presidential campaign, who purposefully paid photographers to stalk Alex and Henry and then hacked their emails.
In the movie, the emails are seemingly leaked by an upstart political reporter who Alex had a brief fling with. That reporter does not face repercussions, but the Republican presidential candidate does try to make the most of the scandal.
Henry’s Family Is Very Different in the Book
First, in the book Henry’s monarch grandparent is his grandmother, not his grandfather (played by Stephen Fry in the film). Second, in both the book and movie Henry’s mom Catherine is pretty absent from her kids’ lives (in the book we learn that she’s still grieving from the death of Henry’s father, an actor who played James Bond), but in the book she appears at the end when Henry confronts his grandmother about his relationship and sexuality. Catherine defends and protects Henry and vows to do a better job being there for her kids in the future. Henry’s sister Princess Bea (played by “Willow”‘s Ellie Bamber in the film) also has a larger role in the book, as she travels with Henry multiple times to hang out with Alex, Nora, and June and has grappled with her own tabloid issues.
Alex’s Texas Job Doesn’t Exist in the Book
In the book, Alex is working for his mom’s campaign in an office job until she finds out Henry and Alex are together. Then she kicks him off the campaign because she’s worried that it could become a scandal if the relationship is revealed. Alex is optimistic that Texas (his family’s home state) will be a battleground during the election, but besides organizing a rally in Houston and some calls with organizers, he’s not involved in the effort. In the movie, Alex goes to Texas and spends weeks rallying voters and getting out the vote in a much more active way.
“Red, White & Royal Blue” is streaming now on Prime Video.