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Literature / Red, White & Royal Blue

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"History, huh? Bet we could make some.”

Red, White & Royal Blue is a Queer Romance novel written by Casey McQuiston. It was published in 2019.

The story follows Alex Claremont-Diaz, the son of the first female President of the United States. After he gets into a fight with Prince Henry of the United Kingdom, the two must feign a friendship to prevent a media crisis. However, it works a little too well and they start to fall in love. This presents problems, since Alex's mother is in the middle of a re-election campaign and Henry's family wants him to continue their bloodline.

The novel was adapted into a movie starring Taylor Zakhar Perez as Alex Claremont-Diaz and Nicholas Galitzine as Prince Henry, released on August 11, 2023.

This novel has the following tropes:

  • Abdicate the Throne: Discussed. Henry threatens Phillip that he will abdicate if he is not allowed to be with Alex. He brings up their great-uncle who abdicated note  because he was a Nazi. He states that leaving to be with Alex is far from the worst reason someone has abdicated.
  • All for Nothing: Jeffrey Richards and his top campaign staff pour an indescribable amount of resources into stalking Alex and exposing his relationship with Henry to sabotage Ellen's campaign and win the Presidency, resulting in them hacking into the White House email server and leaking all of Alex and Henry's private emails. The entire scheme backfires when the Richards campaign is exposed as the perpetrators of the leak, costing them the election when their actions help turn Texas blue for the first time in decades. It also ensures that Ellen will launch an investigation against them for the targeted attack against her son, with the possibility of legal consequences for all of them down the line.
  • Alternate History: The world is mostly the same as our own, but with some changes in recent history:
    • Ellen Claremont, a Democrat from Texas, won the 2016 elections instead of Trump.
    • The British royal family has different members. Mary is the queen instead of Elizabeth and her heir is Princess Catherine, who married a James Bond actor. They have three kids: Phillip, Beatrice and Henry.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Ellen has a unique ability to be this as the President of the United States. When she finds out Alex is dating Henry, she puts together a PowerPoint presentation about how it's totally fine that he's bi, and she's happy he's seeing somebody, but does it have to be the Prince of Wales? Alex genuinely wishes for death at this moment.
  • Amicable Exes:
    • Alex and Nora had a fling that was doomed before it even started, but nowadays, they're really good friends.
    • Ellen and Oscar are divorced, and while they do have the occasional argument and there is some tension, they've mostly let the whole thing go. They are on good enough terms that they can spend holidays together with their children with no issue. Oscar also seems to like Leo, Ellen's current husband.
  • Arc Words: "History, huh?"
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Alex and Henry's relationship starts off in this state, before becoming more affectionate and loving.
  • The Beard: Henry and June pretend to date to prevent people from finding out that he is actually dating her brother, which would cause a scandal. Alex and Nora also go on a date to divert media attention. It doesn't work, since more information is leaked to the public soon after.
  • Beta Couple: Zahra and Shaan get to know each other, get together, and ultimately get engaged over the same time period and a lot of the same rendezvouses as Alex and Henry, and they keep it close to their chests similarly to Alex and Henry.
  • Closet Key: Henry kissing him is what caused Alex to realize that he is bisexual.
  • Code Name: Not unsurprisingly, given their positions, The First Family have code names used by the Secret Service. Ellen is "Black Bear", June is "Bluebonnet", and Alex is "Barracuda". According to June, each of them chose their code name.
  • Cool Big Sis: June is smart, capable, and a good friend to her little brother Alex.
  • Defcon 5: Zahra invokes this after the outing.
  • Fake Defector: Rafael Luna is an Independent senator who was recruited into politics by Oscar, and has become a very close family friend of the Claremont-Diazes. 20 years ago, Luna was sexually abused by Jeffrey Richards, the Republican nominee. He is dedicated to doing whatever he could to keep a predator out of the White House. He knew that his story alone would not be enough to change people’s votes, but if he found more incriminating information to leak, that could make a difference. So Luna convinced Richards that he did not believe Ellen would win, and that he could help him get more votes. Luna did not tell anyone his intentions and let them believe that he really truly switched sides, as he knew that would call him crazy.
  • Forced Out of the Closet: Both Henry and Alex get outed when someone paid off by the Richards campaign leaks their private emails and a photo of them kissing to The Daily Mail.
  • Generation Xerox: The Forbidden Romance between Henry and Alex echoes the relationship between Henry's own parents Arthur and Catherine. In literally any other relationship, Arthur would've been considered a serious catch, being a wealthy and famous stage and film actor. Instead, he fell in love with Princess Catherine, whereupon his career and lack of pedigree made him wholly unsuitable as a spouse. The two were so in love that they got married anyway despite Queen Mary's objections. Likewise, Alex would've been a perfectly acceptable partner for Henry as a child of a President of the United States; however, he's a man, which in Mary's eyes makes him an even more unsuitable option than Arthur was. Despite that, the two of them are too in love to let that barrier come between them and fight for their right to be a couple in the open.
  • Gone Horribly Right: Essentially the premise. The White House and Buckingham Palace force Alex and Henry into a fake PR friendship in order to smooth over international relations after the cake fiasco. It works, but in the process, the two end up falling in love and starting a secret relationship that, if exposed, would serve as an even worse scandal than the one that forced them to befriend each other in the first place. Zahra in particular goes into a complete Heroic BSoD after she finds out about the relationship, as it means she accidentally set up the First Son of the United States with a Prince of England.
  • Hiding Behind the Language Barrier: Oscar Diaz and Rafael Luna converse in Spanish when they are worried about being overheard.
  • Human Calculator: Nora is constantly calculating probabilities of events, and becomes a data analyst for the campaign. Alex describes talking to her while she is working as "trying to have a meaningful conversation with a high-speed computer that loves Chipotle and makes fun of what you're wearing."
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Rafael Luna invokes this when explaining his defection to Alex.
  • In-Series Nickname:
    • The White House Trio is the media nickname for Alex, June, and VP's granddaughter Nora Holleran, coined shortly before the inauguration by their press team and fed to People magazine.
    • The Super Six is the media nickname for The White House Trio plus Henry, his sister Beatrice, and his best friend Pez.
    • Percy goes by Pez.
    • Alex affectionately calls June "Bug" (as in Junebug).
  • Long-Distance Relationship: Alex and Henry, as the former is in DC and the latter is in London. At the end, Henry confesses that he's bought a brownstone in Brooklyn, where Alex can live in while he goes to law school and Henry can join him part-time while overseeing his charity work in New York.
  • Mama Bear: Ellen would move Heaven and Earth for her children, and is Alex's greatest defender when he's Forced Out of the Closet.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Alex is named after founding father Alexander Hamilton and the archangel Gabriel, the patron saint of diplomats. He described his name as being a self-fulfilling prophecy. Furthermore, various historians have speculated that Hamilton might have been bisexual and in love with John Laurens - Alex is also bisexual.
    • Henry has middle names after two gay kings: Edward II and James I.
  • Mentor in Queerness: Defied. When Alex comes out to Rafael Luna, who is the first openly gay senator, Luna's response is that Alex should remain closeted. He doesn't want Alex to have to go through what he has in being an openly queer, Latino politician.
    Luna: Jesus, Alex, please, don't be like me. Find another fucking role model.
    Luna: Okay, fine, kid, you want me to be your fucking sherpa? Here's my advice: Don't tell anyone. Go find a nice girl and marry her. You're luckier than me—you can do that, and it wouldn't even be a lie.
  • Open-Minded Parent: Both of Alex's parents take the news that he's bisexual and dating Henry really well, all things considered. Their only reservations are that the whole thing could cause an international sex scandal, which they turn out to be right about. Even then, they stand by and defend their son's right to love whoever he loves.
  • Parents as People:
    • Alex's parents are politicians, and sometimes he feels they're more the latter than the former, but they love him and June dearly, and ultimately do the right thing for them.
    • Henry's mother has been barely functional as a parent since his father died, but at the end, she puts her foot down and refuses to let her mother bully her and her son, showing her support for Henry and Alex.
  • Passive-Aggressive Kombat: Henry and Alex, before they become friends, often exchange barbs coated in politeness… at least until Alex loses his temper.
  • Recovered Addict: Henry's sister Beatrice fell into cocaine use after their father died, but has since been through rehab.
  • Scandalgate: Henry and Alex knocking over Phillip's wedding cake soon becomes known as "Cakegate".
  • Scrapbook Story: While most of the novel is in standard narration, a decent portion of the story is told through online communications between the characters, including: Alex and Henry’s emails, text messages between the Super Six, tweets, newspaper headlines, and the occasional transcript of an interview.
  • Secret Relationship: By necessity, since the First Son dating a prince could cause a scandal. And it does.
  • Shipper on Deck: Nora and June are both on board for Alex/Henry. Alex's parents are supportive, too, as are Henry's mother and sister. And when the scandal breaks, there's a huge show of public support, particularly from young people online, with "Free Henry" trending.
  • Shout-Out:
  • State Visit: Henry attended a state dinner at the White House, along with the prime minister, as part of the efforts to repair relations between the two countries following Cakegate.
  • Tabloid Melodrama: June follows their tabloid coverage, as many times it is So Bad, It's Good.
    • Prior to Alex's relationship with Henry, he and Nora would invoke this by getting drunk in hotel rooms and making loud moaning noises at the wall to rile up the tabloids for their own amusement. The press just loves the idea of them together and won't let it go.
  • The Talk: A variation. After Alex tells his mom that he's bisexual and in a relationship with Henry, she gives him a hilarious and embarrassing "talk", complete with a PowerPoint presentation, that includes reminding him not to use any federal funds in the process of arranging to meet up with Henry. Alex cuts the conversation short when she starts telling him about the importance of using condoms for anal sex.
  • Tsundere: Alex to Henry. He posits to hate him, but he's quickly confiding in him after they're forced to make nice, and soon comes to see the good in him. And then he realizes he had a crush on him all along and just really didn't know how to handle it.
  • Upper-Class Equestrian: Henry plays polo.
  • Visual Pun: Henry tumbling out of the closet in Alex's hotel room after the two had sex the night before, outing him and Alex to Zahra. Even in his panicked state, Alex notes in his internal monologue that it is a solid visual pun.
  • Workaholic: Alex manages to be this in D.C. despite not actually having a job yet. He has strong political aspirations which, while presented as admirable, also compromise his ability to have a social life, to the point where it concerns his family.