MV5BMTg3MDE4MTQ4NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwNDgwNDYyOA@@._V1_SX214_I knew nothing about this film before I listened to Mark Kermode’s 2012 films of the year over the Christmas period and I immediately asked the Book God if he knew anything about the background which of course he did, though not the astonishing detail of a remarkable royal story.

A Royal Affair is the story of Princess Caroline Matilda, sister of George III, who at the age of 15 was packed off to Denmark  in 1766 to marry King Christian VII. What none of the British royal family knew was that Christian was mentally ill and, after being persuaded to consummate the marriage (leading to the birth of a little boy) he headed off on a tour of Europe leaving his wife alone. When he returned he brought back with him a new physician, Johann Friedrich Struensee, a man of progressive views who became not only influential over the King but had an affair with Caroline Matilda, almost certainly fathering her second child, a little girl. They worked together with Christian to introduce a whole range of significant reforms to what was at the time a terribly oppressive country.

Of course, it did not end well.

The film tells the story of the affair and the political fall-out. I found it totally fascinating, a period of history  know very little about. I was quite taken aback by the level of political repression in what is now seen as one of the world’s more liberal countries. Caroline Matilda seems to have been quite a remarkable young woman, very well-educated but a bit of a schemer, though not surprising given what must have been a marriage which was a huge disappointment to her. I wonder if Struensee was quite as charismatic as Mads Mikkelsen portrays him, and Christian seems to have been rather more vicious in his habits than is depicted here.

The thing I found astonishing is just how young they all were; when he was executed (and sorry if that’s a spoiler but you could see that coming a mile off even if you haven’t read any of the background) Struensee was only 35. Caroline Matilda was whisked away following negotiations with the British government. She never saw her children again and died of scarlet fever at only 24.

This is a beautiful film which gives a convincing portrayal of a period of significant political upheaval while also depicting what seems to have been a great romance. I thought it was fabulous.

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