OTTplay Logo
settings icon
profile icon

Young Royals Season 3 Review: Dazzling queer romance wraps up on pragmatic, soft notes

The final season cements Edvin Ryding as one of the most quietly blazing actors of his generation

Young Royals Season 3 Review: Dazzling queer romance wraps up on pragmatic, soft notes

Last Updated: 08.37 PM, Mar 19, 2024


Story: After Sweden’s crown prince, Wilhelm (Edvin Ryding), makes public his relationship with Simon (Omar Rudberg), the couple find their bond tested under the weight of immense scrutiny.

Review: To what degree can tradition be allowed to rule unabated? Does it even have any meaning and purpose left in it if it can no longer move accordingly with the times or acknowledge its sore spots? That was the question that came to the forefront in the previous season of the series. As impossible as it is to forget that incredible season finale when Wilhelm wrests control from all the narratives, it sets itself up for a follow-up burdened with loftier expectations.


The new and final season confronts the impact of the crown prince’s coming out. Now everyone knows Wilhelm and Simon are in a relationship. Public scrutiny begins to cast its sharp, severe glare on the latter. Simon is caught up in a brutal tide of online tirades. Merciless prejudiced judgements are hurled at him which he tries to counter. He attempts to explain himself and convey a truer impression of himself. But soon he realises the futility of his efforts. Whatever he does will only be misread and he viciously attacked. Under the insistence of the royal court, Wilhelm reasons Simon for not responding to the online hate. Wilhelm is more experienced in this regard but Simon struggles to disconnect. As much as he tries, he cannot escape being intensely observed and criticised. His every move is put under the scanner which is how he fully realises the weight and gravitas Wilhelm has had to constantly live with. The toll public perception starts to take on Simon assumes a central role in this season.

Simon is full of unchecked idealism and righteousness. He loves Wilhelm but also wants him to do better with the resources he has at his disposal by dint of the privilege he is born into. Of what use is visibility and influence if it cannot be capitalised on to do actual, proper good? He nudges Wilhelm to positively wield the attention and power he has into urgent things that need looking. What this season finely maps is the collision in perspectives and beliefs the couple have about the world and what they can do about it vis a vis their respective social positions. In many ways, therefore, Young Royals boldly plunges into the aching gulf between romantic idealism and a brittle, realist mode of expectation. Even if Wilhelm wishes to do what Simon needles him to, he feels he cannot because the monarchy cannot take a stand. Despite the massiveness of his public persona, he must remain an entity that cannot make itself honestly known or heard. He is compelled to step back with all his likings and antipathies and put on display the old, familiar face of tradition.


Wilhelm’s coming out also brings another set of ramifications for his school, Hillerska. All of a sudden, former students emboldened by his confession speak out about the bullying they’ve suffered and all the unpleasant things that go inside the school. The allegations put Hillerska under the scanner, forcing its future into a state of complete uncertainty. Discipline is ramped up and authority is tightened. Nobody can do whatever they please; for the first time, Hillerska’s students discover the strength and value of community and having each other’s backs. This isn’t always convincing, especially in its positioning of the graduating third-year gang of August (Malte Gardinger). The nastiness of the new prefect, Vincent (Nils Wetterholm), is missing, replaced by a subdued, defeated energy that takes a backseat and gives August centre stage.

Having reported August to the cops for circulating the video that landed all scrutiny on Wilhelm and Simon, Sara (Frida Argento) has cut off all ties with him. She stops attending school, having lost the trust of her best friend, Felice (Nikita Uggla), and moves in with her dad. In her guilt and shame, she finds a kindred spirit in her father, with whom her relationship has been otherwise rocky. Simon is disappointed in her for choosing to stay with him but, as it keeps reiterating even overtly, the series is as much about giving people a second chance as it is about listening intently to the hum of your first impulse. An equal emphasis is placed on both, with characters marking a middle ground.


Wisely and gently, Young Royals articulates its appeal to recognise human beings with all their flaws and missteps and be generous in envisaging growth and redemption. August is the biggest emblem of this plea in the show. Gardinger tenderly etches his character’s persistent efforts in battling insecurities and trying to be a better person, making amends for all his misdeeds. It is the show’s triumph that it lets us into a variety of vantage points on who gets to seek whose forgiveness while it destabilised fixed notions of moral high ground. As much as August has done pretty terrible things, we also come to see how Wilhelm can be quite blindsided in his righteous stance. August reaches out to him for a genuine connection which Wilhelm keeps resisting. The show maps their fractious relationship with insight and authenticity, allowing the viewer an expansive understanding of characters as richly, and solidly defined. As much as Wilhelm cannot stand August, he eventually grows to see him as indispensable and more than vital to the royal institution and family. The ultimate decision he makes is therefore well earned.


While the show makes some fumbling, awkward comments on diversity and power hierarchies, it works best when it circles the complex, layered nature of friendship, love and duty. Change, progress and growth register crucially in this season as they always have in the show, with characters choosing to come back to one another after a daze of disappointment and despair, realising they need each other in spite of it.

Verdict: Ultimately, Young Royals remains above all a shimmering showcase for the reserved yet explosive brilliance that lies in Edvin Ryding’s performance. As a prince who doesn’t quite want to be one, chafing at his obligations that don’t let him be who he seeks to be, Ryding is in stunning form. There is not a trace of exaggeration in his performance nor a straining desire to impress. He is restrained, unflashy but always piercing. Even when the show starts to show some flab, Ryding’s dynamic display of vulnerability and emotional strength ensures we stick with his journey to its very life-affirming conclusion



    Get the latest updates in your inbox