I have a Monarchy obsession and a weakness for gossipy books. So it stands to reason that eventually I would break down and read The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan.
Admittedly, when I first came across it I may have rolled my eyes. Even reading the blurb on the book’s jacket (that’s even after looking at the cover, an obvious [and very pretty] homage the Cambridges) one can tell that it’s the Kate Middleton story with some minor changes: Rebecca “Bex” Porter is American, she has a twin sister, she’s an artist studying at Oxford and the princes are Nick and Freddie.
But I got sucked in. I kept hearing good things about it and when I realized that Cocks and Morgan are the geniuses behind Go Fug Yourself…well I gave in. I even bought the hardcover.
Bex Porter is an exchange student at Oxford, living in a wing of the dorms with a very select group of friends that go way back, one of whom happens to be Prince Nicholas of Wales. Before realizing who he is she drops a joke about his family and syphilis and after that she pretends to play it cool, allowing Nick to feel like a regular guy. He feels a lot of pressure from his father to be a certain way and Bex just lets him watch terrible TV in her room, bingeing on American snacks.
Most of the story follows the Cambridge narrative: they date for an extended period of time under the radar, are outed on a ski trip in Klosters, break up, she parties to make it look like she’s having the time of her life, they get back together, get engaged and so begins the training to be a Princess.
Here’s what I really appreciated about this book: it was just as much about the construct of Monarchy as the ultimate fairy tale (girl meets boy, falls in love, realizes he’s a prince and becomes a princess). Nick is keenly aware of his destiny and his public persona the whole time, the media is a constant shadow over him – everything has to be a certain way. Obviously it’s fiction (for example there’s a whole storyline about Nick’s “Ginger Gigolo” brother Freddie and Bex’s sister that probably has no basis in reality) but there was enough reality to make it almost feel like a behind-the-scenes look.
Despite knowing the milestones of the relationship and even some of the motivations, I found myself completely engrossed in this book. It was smart, funny, and thoroughly entertaining. A great addition to anyone’s beach bag, even if you’re not a real-life Royals fan.