Hallmark Summary: “Princess Amelia of Bundbury travels across America to explore a budding romance with an artist, only to fall in love with her bodyguard Grady. Staring Philippa Northeast, Brant Daugherty, Sarah-Jane Redmond and Vincent Gale.”
My Reaction? A fresh take on the Royals Gone Rogue fairy tale trope. Instead of recycling stale plot points, “A Royal Runaway Romance” opts for a cross-country road trip with a plausible beginning and satisfying finish. It seems as though writer Jake Helgren made a concerted effort to avoid the typical princess-in-the-wild hijinks, and it was just my cup of tea.
Princess Amelia Bell of Bundbury (charmingly played by the luminous Philippa Northeast) has developed a crush on her American portrait painter (because…who doesn’t?) and hatches a plan to get to Chicago (by way of Los Angeles). The queen of Bundbury is a Grade-A smother mother with the best of intentions. She puts her Gianvito Rossi suede pump down and nixes Amelia’s budding romance before it ever has a chance to bloom.
Cue the belated teenage rebellion. Amelia reaches out to her Fun Uncle who lives a fabulous ex-pat life in L.A. He invites his niece and the queen across the Pond, then agrees to lend Amelia a car for her cross-country road trip to Chicago with one condition: his most trusted bodyguard goes, too. This catalyst lends a nice degree of plausibility to a plot that often relies on its pampered royals running away (with no clue how money works) or camouflaging themselves among the common people (which invariably leads to trust issues).
Amelia’s road trip turns into an existential journey (natch) for both her and Grady as they reassess their views on falling in love and familial expectations. Rather than resort to a variety of tired romance tropes including the Bickering Bickersons routine or the Two Guests, One Room conundrum, “A Royal Runaway Romance” avoids exaggerated conflict or forced drama. Its story is also elevated by both lead actors who infuse their characters with authentic likability.
The film ends with an understated (but satisfying) conclusion. No grand declarations in a gilded ballroom. No sacrificial gestures or swoony speeches. I don’t dislike those things; I’ve just seen them done so many times already. A noticeable lack of predictable pomp and circumstance made this a standout Hallmark film for me.
Teachable Moment: How to Make a S’more (including the etymology of the name)
Festival, Wedding, or Ball? Spring Fling Festival
My Verdict? LIKED IT A LOT! Pairs well with frankfurters (plus ALL the fixins) and a vanilla shake.