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Culture > Entertainment

Here Are The Biggest Things The ‘RWRB’ Movie Changed From The Book

When I watched the film adaptation of Casey McQuiston’s novel Red, White, & Royal Blue, there was one major thing I was keeping an eye out for: the differences between the book and the movie. It’s not uncommon for movies to make plot and character changes, from the trivial to the sweeping — The Summer I Turned Pretty has done it, Heartstopper has done it, and of course, RWRB was no exception.

If you haven’t read the 2019 novel, it follows Alex Claremont-Diaz, son of the U.S. President, and his enemies-to-lovers relationship with Prince Henry, the prince of Wales. Alex tries to juggle his growing feelings for the prince with his mother’s reelection campaign, and his own sexual identity crisis. It’s ultimately a feel-good story that’s perfect for the rom-com treatment, with Taylor Zakhar Perez and Nicholas Galitzine playing Alex and Henry, respectively.

But with McQuiston’s book weighing in at over 400 pages, it was inevitable some parts (and characters) would have to meet the chopping block in order for the story to fit a two-hour runtime. If you’re wondering what changes the RWRB movie made to the source material, look no further. Spoiler warning: Spoilers for Red, White, & Royal Blue follow.


Book: Alex has a sister, June, who is a fan-favorite character for her and Alex’s close relationship. She, Alex, and Nora form the famed “White House Trio.” June is one of Alex’s biggest supporters while he’s dealing with falling in love with Henry, and even goes on fake dates with Henry to throw the press off of Alex’s trail when suspicions arise about their relationship.

Movie: Alex is the only child of President Ellen Claremont and is navigating life as the First Son by himself, usually relying on his best friend Nora (granddaughter of the Vice President) when he needs a shoulder to lean on. June being cut from the movie was a point of contention for a lot of diehard book fans, but it seems like her character was essentially combined with Nora’s.


Book: Alex has two important relationships in the book that don’t appear in the movie: Liam is a guy he used to fool around with before he realized he was into men, and Rafael Luna is a Senator who’s close with Alex and his family. Luna is eventually revealed to be part of the Richards campaign (President Claremont’s biggest opponent for reelection) and is the one who leaked Alex and Henry’s private romantic emails to the press.

Movie: Elements of Liam and Luna’s characters are part of an entirely new character, journalist Miguel Ramos. Alex and Miguel have hooked up, similar to Alex and Liam’s history, but Miguel is also involved in the campaign trail like Luna, though as a reporter instead of a politician. Miguel is also the one who leaks Alex and Henry’s emails, but it seems to be more out of jealousy because of his history with Alex and wanting his big break than anything else. He’s even called out on TV during an interview when it’s revealed that he suspiciously published a story on the emails almost immediately after they were anonymously leaked.

Alex and Nora’s history
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Book: Two best friends in a room, they might kiss… Like Henry and June go on a fake date, so do Nora and Alex. Nora and Alex also have some romantic history in the book — they famously dated as teenagers, and kiss every year on New Year’s when they’re both single. Alex’s kiss with Nora at the New Year’s party is what leads Henry to get jealous and eventually kiss him, kicking off their romantic relationship. She also goes on a fake date with Alex while he’s secretly dating Henry.

Movie: There are no allusions to any past romance between Nora and Alex; they’re just besties here! Nora also isn’t his New Year’s kiss — instead, Henry sees Alex kissing a random girl, which is honestly probably a little less messy, considering Nora also forms a relationship with Percy, Henry’s best friend.

The British monarch
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Book: Henry’s grandmother, the Queen of England, is a minor character in the book but plays a major role — in a climactic scene, she tells Henry that the world won’t accept a gay monarch, but is proven wrong when Henry’s sister, Princess Beatrice, points out that a huge group of supporters has shown up outside the palace.

Movie: The queen is replaced by a king, played by Stephen Fry. Otherwise, the role is functionally the same, so I had wondered if this was a nod to King Charles III’s coronation after the death of Queen Elizabeth II last year (the book was written in 2019, when Queen Elizabeth was still alive), but it turns out the movie was filmed before she died. I’m not sure why they chose to switch it up, but hey! Why not?


Book: Henry’s best friend Percy more often goes by Pez, and is interested in June for much of the novel. The implied possibility of a June/Pez/Nora throuple is something that book fans have taken and run with, though it’s never explicitly stated.

Movie: With June not in the picture and some elements of her character transferred over to Nora, Percy and Nora develop a romance in the background of Alex and Henry’s love story. He also is only Percy in the movie, never Pez.

Princess Beatrice
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Book: Henry’s sister, Bea, is a recovering cocaine addict, which has made her the frequent subject of tabloid fodder. Henry is very protective over her because of this.

Movie: Though Bea is in the movie and she and Henry do have a heart-to-heart, her role is pretty reduced here, and there’s no mention of her history with drugs.

These changes don’t fundamentally affect the heart and spirit of RWRB, and overall, it seems to me like the movie wanted to focus on Alex and Henry’s relationship, which may explain why some of the side characters got the boot. Those two are the core of the story, after all. Whether you love the changes or hate them (justice for June!), RWRB will absolutely be going on my rom-com rewatch list.

Erica Kam is the Life Editor at Her Campus. She oversees the life, career, and news verticals on the site, including academics, experience, high school, money, work, and Her20s coverage. Over her six years at Her Campus, Erica has served in various editorial roles on the national team, including as the previous Culture Editor and as an editorial intern. She has also interned at Bustle Digital Group, where she covered entertainment news for Bustle and Elite Daily. She graduated in 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing from Barnard College, where she was the senior editor of Columbia and Barnard’s Her Campus chapter and a deputy copy editor for The Columbia Spectator. When she's not writing or editing, you can find her dissecting K-pop music videos for easter eggs and rereading Jane Austen novels. She also loves exploring her home, the best city in the world — and if you think that's not NYC, she's willing to fight you on it.