A Royal Affair: Netflix ~ Non-Spoiler Review

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Image shows scenes from A Royal Affair. Centre is the theatrical poster for A Royal Affair.

A ROYAL AFFAIR aka En kongelig affære (2012) is a Danish Drama. Netflix 2hr 17m 15 Cert. Biography, Drama, History, Romance. English subtitles.


Alicia Vikander as Caroline Mathilde

Mads Mikkelsen as Johann Friedrich Struensee

Mikkel Boe Følsgaard as Christian Vll

Trine Dyrholm as Juliane Marie 

David Dencik as Ove Høegh-Guldberg 

Thomas W. Gabrielsson as Schack Carl Rantzau

Cyron Melville as Enevold Brandt

Bent Mejding as J. H. E. Bernstoff

Harriet Walter as Augusta – Princess of Wales 

Laura Bro as Louise von Plessen 


Director: Nikolaj Arcel

Cinematographer: Rasmus Videbæk 

Writers: Nikolaj Arcel & Rasmus Heisterber 

Costume: Manon Rasmussen 

Make-up: Ivo Strangmüller

Special Effects: Jeppe N. Christensen, Esben Syberg, Rikke Hovgaard Jørgensen, Ghost VFX 

Production Design: Niels Sejer 

Music: Cyrille Aufort, Gabriel Yared 

Background and premise:

Nikolaj Arcel and Rasmus Heisterberg started writing this by reading the 1999 novel The Visit of the Royal Physician, based on the events surrounding Johann Friedrich Struensee’s time at the Danish court. The exclusive film rights were already sold to another company which was not willing to sell them. 

Research continued and the film was eventually credited as being based on Bodil Steensen-Leth’s erotic novel Prinsesse af blodet, which tells the story from the perspective of the queen, Caroline Matilda. The film did however still remain highly influenced by Enquist’s version, however the production company ensured the final screenplay was dissimilar enough to Enquist’s book. 

“Caroline Matilda, the youngest sister of George III, is betrothed to her cousin Christian VII, King of Denmark. Almost immediately aware of her young husband’s mental illness, she falls under the charismatic spell of Christian’s new doctor.”


A Royal Affair is the gripping tale of brave idealists who risk everything in the pursuit of freedom for their people… and above all, it is the story of a passionate and forbidden romance that ultimately changed an entire nation. 

Very romantic, full of political and personal machinations and skulduggery it is also a tragic love story. Fantastic acting by everyone involved (if you don’t want very bad things to happen to David Dencik’s character by the end I will be very surprised). 

This film and its characters also works as the embodiment of the battle against the enlightenment within Denmark, a battle that had already been “lost” across much of the rest of Europe. 

There is an enormous feeling of dread and impending doom that steadily and irresistibly increases as this movie progresses. This is principally due to the fact that, right from the start, it is clear this will NOT end well. I happily confess that parts of this movie moved me to tears, with the sheer, awful tragedy of it all. It is not, however, a film that leaves the viewer with a sense of hopelessness. A Royal Affair is not a film (unlike some other historical dramas) where style is far greater than substance; there is real power to this story, even if you ignore the fantastic visuals and music. 

The cinematography, music and costuming of this film are all amazing. The choice of colour palette, materials, which shots to use when, are all of the highest quality. 


A Royal Affair was nominated for an Oscar in 2013 for Best Foreign Language Film. It won 21 awards and had 35 other nominations, including Golden Globes. In the Robert Awards 2013 Mikkel Boe Følsgaard won Best Supporting Actor (he also won a Silver Bear at Berlin and a Bodil Award) Trine Dyrholm Best Supporting Actress in addition to: Best Director, Best Costume, Best Production Design, Best Make-up, Best Original Score and Best Special Effects. 



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