Sometime back in November I was scrolling through Twitter, as I am known to do almost 24/7, and I came across a post that one of my friends had retweeted about an article by EW with the tagline ‘A queer romance in the royal family? Her Royal Highness will make you swoon’. Naturally, I had to take 5 minutes out of my lunch break in work to check out what this was all about. I will be recapping the book briefly before giving my view. If you do not want to see any spoilers, may I suggest reading books one and two of the Royals series?
‘Her Royal Highness’ by Rachel Hawkins is set in the Highlands of Scotland at an exclusive boarding school called ‘Gregorstoun’ where the elite send their children to be educated. The most notable students include Prince Alex and Prince Sebastian Baird, the heir to the Throne of Scotland and his younger brother. When the school, for the first time in its history allows females to attend, a sixteen-year-old high school student from Texas gains a full scholarship to attend and ends up rooming with Princess Flora Baird, the Queen’s daughter.
Needless to say, the pair hate each other to begin with, but after the Challenge, they start to see the other in a new light. Millie Quint slowly starts to fall for the moments where there is a crack in Flora’s facade, it all coming to a head when the pair head to Skye for a Royal Banquet. They face a rocky start in their relationship, but after they ‘break up’ with a misunderstanding during a visit with Flora’s family, Millie declares her love for Flora
Gregorstoun read a lot like Gordonstoun, the school Prince Philip and Prince Charles attended, right down to its morning runs and its ‘Challenge’ where the students are sent off into the hills with camping gear and forced to find their way back to school. I honestly felt like I was reading a queerer more modern version of The Crown. That isn’t to say that I didn’t hate it. I, in fact, loved it! Reading about a ‘famous’ boarding school, even in its fictional iteration, is fascinating to me. I have studied English and History at university and any time I get to view something in the media through the lens of my study is always an opportunity I relish.
Did I mention that I am also a lover of revisionist history? Especially revisionist Scottish history? If you know anything about me then you know I am Scottish through and through. I was born here, I went to school here, and despite the fact that I moved away for a spell, I have Scotland in my heart. I recently spent a weekend in Edinburgh being a tourist. We went to the castle, spent time walking around the city and even did the bus tour. Part of our time in Edinburgh involved visiting The Honours of Scotland, Scotlands Crown Jewels. To think, that in this universe created by Rachel Hawkins, Scotland was never a party to The Union of the Crowns of 1603 and the Union of Parliament in 1707, it kindles the love that I have for this country and makes you feel like pulling out the family tartan and bedecking yourself in it.
When you are in the room, there is a sign which states you cannot take photographs, so this is the best I could do without posting my little love poem to them (which I actually have written)
I am an avid reader, and I am always on the lookout for new books. After reading the EW article, I instantly screenshot the tweet and added a reminder for its release date. Imagine my dismay when I discovered that the release date was much later in Scotland than in the US. For a book set in Scotland, about a Scottish Royal Family, I felt almost betrayed. The betrayal was even worse when Amazon stated that despite it’s June 1st release, the actual delivery date wouldn’t be until the end of June. Thankfully, The Book Depository is around! (This is not in any way sponsored). I was able to get my hands on the book a month before Amazon said I would.
I feel like I may be a little biased, being Scottish and all, in writing this review. I am also very biased in the fact that I am part of the LGBTQ+ community. This novel series not only has this couple in Flora and Millie but book one Royals – renamed Prince Charming in some countries- also includes a male aristocrat with a Greek boyfriend. In having these characters, and making the novel about the relationship rather than it being a coming out story, helps to normalise these relationships in the media, something I am a massive fan of.
Did I, before even finishing the book, say to my friend who had first posted about the book six months prior that I needed the next book straight away? Why yes I did. Do I want to see more of this Royal family that I so wish we had in the world? Yes, I do. Do I want to see more characters like Flora and Millie? Definitely! Do I want to shout about this book from the rooftops of my Scottish countryside town? Absolutely! Am I going to go and try to find Fanfic to tide me over until next May when it looks like the next instalment may come, based off prior publication dates? YOU BETCHA!
I suppose, that given that this is technically our first ever book review, I should include some sort of rating system. I would use the rating that I used in my Goodreads review, but I wish there was a higher rating I could give. The time is now I guess!
Given that ‘Her Royal Highness’ is Scottish, that the emblem of Gregorstoun is the Unicorn, that the Unicorn was at one point in time the currency of Scotland, and the national animal of Scotland is the Unicorn, we shall use unicorns for this review.
Number of Unicorns? /5
Royals: Published May 1st 2018 in the USA by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Her Royal Highness: Published May 7th 2019 in the USA by G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
-Written by Christine