Let’s just get this over with: The Royal We is pretty much real person fic about Prince William and Princess Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Like them, our two protagonists (Nick and Bex) meet at college (a prestigious English university vs. the royal couple’s alma mater, University of St Andrews); Nick’s grandmother is currently on the throne, while his dad is second in line and his mum is out of the picture; Nick’s brother, Freddie, is a ginger-haired lothario; and the cover is even a pop art transformation of the couple’s adorable first public kiss on their wedding day.
And that’s okay, because I absolutely loved this book. (Like, it’s 400+ pages and I gobbled it up in about three and a half days.)
As stated in its summary, The Royal We follows Bex and Nick as they navigate their twenties as both friends and lovers, their private selves pit against their mandatory public personas. Cocks and Morgan explicitly write through Bex’s eyes – seeing, understanding, and communicating what it means to not only be an American in upper crust England, but also what it feels like to be third string in a game of first division all-stars. (I mean, this is the royal family we’re reading about.) We feel Bex’s pain and her joy, her embarrassments and her triumphs. We root for Bex and Nick to make it work because Bex roots for them to make it work.
And maybe we are her, too, just a little. Experiencing an entire world we always knew existed but couldn’t really fathom, looking into a fish bowl and then finding we have to swim, swim, swim – in circles, incessantly, as everyone now looks in at us.
The Royal We is a love story, and maybe that’s not for everyone, but it should be. Because the love in this story is terrifying and amazing and messy and it hurts. It’s the love between a daughter and her father, defined by thousands of miles and tradition. It’s the love between two sisters, genetic identicals who are both best friends and rivals. It’s the love you discover at twenty and the one you meet again at twenty-five, then thirty, then forty. It’s the love among friends that both inspires and
Although The Royal We is based on real events, it isn’t what really happened. But maybe that’s why I like it so much – because, in some universe, it could have.