It’s been a stressful year, but at least you can count on Hallmark, Lifetime, and Netflix to come through with the holiday cheer. After all, what’s more relaxing than watching an overworked woman fall in love with a Christmas tree farmer? So decompress with all of our delightful holiday content right here.
When A Christmas Prince debuted on Netflix late last year, it became a cultural phenomenon. The cheery holiday film—it’s about a journalist, Amber, who travels to the fictional country of Aldovia to cover tabloid-magnet Prince Richard—was so ubiquitous at one point that Netflix even made a joke about it: “To the 53 people who’ve watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days,” the streaming platform tweeted, “Who hurt you?”
Sure, A Christmas Prince might have served as emotional catharsis for some; for most, though, it was just a fun, whimsical tale. Well, maybe not so whimsical after Meghan Markle and Prince Harry announced their engagement—that only turned the heat up for A Christmas Prince.
So when Netflix announced a sequel to the movie, A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding, just days before Markle and Prince Harry’s actual royal wedding, no one was really surprised. That didn’t make fans any less excited, of course. The second installment of this series, which follows Amber struggling to maintain her identity while planning her wedding to Richard (sound familiar?), is one of the most-anticipated movies of the season. Rose McIver, who plays Amber, is still taken aback by our culture’s impassioned response to A Christmas Prince. We chatted with her about the film’s cult following and if the sequel took any inspiration from the Duchess of Sussex. Spoiler alert: It did.
This franchise is so huge and popular. When you signed on, did you have even the slightest inclination it would turn into what it has?
Rose McIver: I had absolutely no idea. I find it so hard to predict in general which projects are going to work and which things are going to get an audience. You can be so dedicated and committed to something and it just doesn’t take off. So I’m pretty good now at just being like, I’ll do the best work I can and be pleasantly surprised when it does end up finding an audience like A Christmas Prince did.
What about the story resonated with you and made you sign on?
McIver: I just think it’s a fun, happy Christmas movie. I have every opportunity in my life to do really dark, gritty stories, and this is something that was just fun. It was filming in Romania; I’d never been there before. And it’s the kind of movie that I would put on and do a jigsaw puzzle to myself. So I thought, Let’s see whether it works. Let’s see what happens.
Why do you think that it’s hitting people the way that it is?
McIver: I honestly don’t know. I’m too close to the project to be able to see it. I think right now in the world there’s plenty of access to terrible news. It’s not just that bad things are happening; it’s the fact they’re reported on in the way in which they are. I think sometimes we feel pretty depleted by the state of things as we see them, and this is a chance to escape and believe in a fairytale again and be children. It’s great. I’m glad it’s found an audience.
We spoke to the actresses who’ve worked on similar movies for Hallmark, and they agree people are looking for escape now more than ever.
McIver: We’ve reached peak trauma in terms of what we can witness and handle, and I think everybody does need an escape and time to be entertained. Especially when it’s such a familiar story. You know things are gonna work out well, and they do. That’s kind of a nice relief at the moment.
I can’t talk to you about this sequel without mentioning Meghan Markle. Was she an inspiration at all?
McIver: Certainly by the time the second film came around. The first film was in and of itself, I thought. Certainly by the time the royal wedding film came up, I had a great look at this young woman who’s shaking up patriarchy and old-fashioned values and bringing a modern eye to what can be quite a dated regime sometimes. She was an inspiration, and we were all on the edge of our seats watching to see what she’d wear [to her wedding to Prince Harry]. But I had never actually followed royal weddings or anything growing up, so it was new to me. To see the size and the grandeur was pretty incredible.
How much did she come up when you were filming the movie?
McIver: We definitely talked about her. It’s not the same storyline or anything. It was more just a nod to and a recognition that it was very timely at the moment to be making a story about a woman who’s going to be in the royal family who maybe challenges some of the norms.
Did you research Meghan at all? Or were you just following her?
McIver: I just followed her like everyone else. My character wasn’t based on her, so I didn’t do a signifiant amount of research. But I was very curious and followed along with the news to see how things were panning out.
Did being a part of this movie inform your perception on what it’s like to have a relationship that’s so public? Like Meghan Markle’s?
McIver: A relationship can be hard at many times but even harder when you’re scrutinized by everybody around you. I’m very grateful that I don’t have a relationship that’s crazy out there in the public eye or anything. I think those people are up for a very challenging journey.
What do you hope people take away from this sequel?
McIver: I hope people feel a little moment of relief from some of their day-to-day madness and wave of traumatic news we’re experiencing all the time. I hope it’s a chance for people to sit down, watch it with loved ones, have a laugh, have a couple of eggnog shots, and take a load off.
A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding is now streaming on Netflix.