The Royals review: “Gossip Girl on Class A drugs in the throne room”

E!'s glossy take on our age-old institution certainly isn't accurate but if you can suspend your disbelief, The Royals is so bad, it's brilliant, says Ellie Walker-Arnott

Forget Prince William, the Duchess of Cambridge and the royal baby bump, it’s all about Queen Helena nowadays. 

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Britain’s latest US import The Royals kicked off tonight, and tried to take the palace by storm.

Despite being made up of a mainly British cast – Elizabeth Hurley, Vincent Regan, William Moseley, Jake Maskall and Oliver Milburn – it’s brashly, boldly and unashamedly American. 

E!’s glossy take on our age-old institution is absurd and it certainly isn’t accurate – there are girls in French maid outfits serving dinner, tabloid front pages emblazoned with the princess’ “royal beaver” and union jacks made out of condoms – but it’s not really trying to be. 

This is the royal family as we secretly wish they were (presumably not how Americans really believe they live?). They are privileged and monied, but while our monarchs live a sensible, buttoned-up kind of existence, this lot are drinking expensive vintages from the bottle on the balcony, sleeping with the help and generally being rather vile. 

It’s not a clever critique of the struggles of living in the limelight, or of the conflict between public and private, or the ever-encroaching eye of the media. But it is the perfect antidote for anyone who has suffered since Gossip Girl hung up her(/his) keyboard. It’s Gossip Girl on Class A drugs in the throne room. And helpfully Elizabeth Hurley is essentially playing the same character. 

Sure, the acting is over-the-top and at times more than a little wooden. The dialogue is nothing if not predictable. And repetitive. Get ready to hear a lot more of this: “You’re the King of the England!”, “I’m the Queen of England!”, “You’re the future King of England!”

But if you can suspend your disbelief and desire for meaningful, life-altering drama, The Royals is so bad, it’s brilliant. 

Long live Queen Helena. 

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The Royals continues on Wednesdays at 9:00pm on E!