Lifetime’s rush-job TV movie, William & Kate, depicts the romance between Prince William and Kate Middleton with unintentional hilarity. Jace Lacob picks out the 8 craziest scenes.
It was inevitable that Lifetime would try to cash in on the storybook courtship of Prince William and commoner Kate Middleton. After all, it has all of the hallmarks of fairy tale romance: handsome princes, beautiful maidens, evil witches (that would be Trilby Glover ’s over the top Margaret Hemmings-Wellington), and a royal wedding the likes of which we haven’t seen since William’s own parents, Prince Charles and the late Lady Diana Spencer (as the Princess of Wales was known then) wed in 1981.
But in rushing William & Kate, the two-hour telepic airing Monday, into production, the makers of this incredibly awful movie seem to have skimped on everything—there’s a lackluster script, paint-by-numbers plotting, and hilariously inauthentic locations (UCLA’s Royce Hall repeatedly stands in for Scotland’s University of St Andrews, though the producers have attempted to recreate the “cursed” cobblestone initials of martyr Patrick Hamilton).
This is the “lite” version of the story we’ve all come to know like the back of our hand: how William (played by New Zealander Nico Evers-Swindell) shunned Oxford and Cambridge for St Andrews in Scotland, where he met fellow student Kate Middleton ( Camilla Luddington) and eventually embarked on a romance with the daughter of a couple who run a party supply company. (Shock, horror!) When faced with media harassment and other issues, the couple splits, only to reconcile in time to become engaged before the end credits.
It’s impossible to escape just how cheesy this film is, even by Lifetime standards, and how much it plays fast and loose with reality. Here, Wills is 6’5” with a full head of luxurious locks… and Prince Charles ( Ben Cross) and Prince Harry ( Justin Hanlon) look nothing like their real-world counterparts. While Luddington, the British actress “plucked from obscurity” to play Kate, seems game enough, the script by Nancey Silvers and the direction by Mark Rosman are intensely painful, even as the film becomes unintentionally hilarious.
What follows are eight of the craziest moments in W illiam & Kate.
One: The Wingman
William, or Wills as he’s known to his friends, has been in his St Andrews dorm room for no less than 15 seconds when there is a paper slipped under his door, a knock, and a visitor in the form of Ian Musgrave ( Jonathan Patrick Moore). Wearing tails and a top hat (it’s not explained why exactly), Ian introduces himself and explains that the paper Wills holds in his hands is his CV and he’s there to “apply for the position” of Wills’ “wing man.”
It’s embarrassing and awkward and just the start of the oddness ahead, followed up by a scene in the St Andrews dining hall in which Wills gathers a group of newly made male friends and tells them that he often slips falsehoods into his conversation to see if people betray him to the tabloids. Puffing themselves up, the men all say, “You can trust us!” even as Wills fibs and says his best friend is a mouse. Um. Sure.
Two: The Circle of Life
It’s Wills’ birthday party and he invites Kate, whom he’s now dating after kissing her in the rain and engaging in a slapstick-worthy hallway scene where they sneak in and out of each other’s bedrooms in the flat they share with their friends. While this is meant to be a lavish royal affair, the party itself is decidedly down-market, looking for all intents to be a tacky bar mitzvah with a Lion King theme, as evidenced by the fake giraffes and zebras and a pair of enormous tusks flanking the dais. Bitchy heiress Margaret Hemmings-Wellington (Glover) attempts to make Kate feel out of place and ashamed by reminding her that her mother used to be an “air hostess” (or, in American English, a flight attendant)! But while Kate shrugs off the upper class hauteur, it’s the sight of Wills cutting his birthday cake with another girl that sends her into a shame spiral as she rushes from the shabby ballroom in tears.
Three: Ski Chalet Sing-along
Hurt feelings mended after sending Wills to Coventry for a few days, Kate reluctantly agrees to go on a ski trip with him and their friends, who have all the character development of a line of rubber ducks. At a ski chalet, Wills serenades Kate. (“I know I did you wrong but I realize I was such a fool,” he sings.) It might have been romantic or endearing, but actor Evers-Swindell can’t sing to save his life, so his caterwauling instead causes no shortage of vexation, even as Kate seems hopelessly smitten by her prince.
(Wills’ dad seems less smitten. When paps catch Wills snogging Kate in the snowy mountains on this trip, he grimaces most uncomfortably in one of the movie’s most awkward reaction shots as his son’s dating life becomes instant fodder for the tabloids.)
With the press’ fixation on Kate Middleton growing exponentially every second, the poor girl can’t even walk down the street without attracting a swarm of paparazzi around her. But rather than hide from the press or keep her private life even remotely, well, private, Kate and mum Carol ( Serena Scott Thomas) have an entire conversation about the future ahead for Kate and Wills, surrounded by a large crowd of paps right there on the street. Clearly, they haven’t been paying attention to the fact that their every word would make headlines. Way to keep a secret, Kate.
Still, it’s not as painfully bad as the juxtaposed shots of Wills cuddling with an African child and then doing a fist-bump with another in Kenya during his travels.
Five: Space Cadets
The pressure has gotten to be too much for Kate, amid the tabloid crotch shots, rumors of Wills’ unfaithfulness (he and his friends hired an all-female crew on their yacht!), and Wills’ distance of late. (After his friend casually tells him that he is in his “sexual prime” while they’re at a nightclub, Wills loses all self-control and pushes Kate away.) But it’s the breakup scene, here dramatized in a car on the streets of London (fortunately, Wills is depicted as driving on the correct side), rather than at a resort in Zermatt, Switzerland, where the incident actually occurred. There’s no nuance, nor any subtext as Wills tells Kate in no certain terms that it’s over between them. (“I need space!” he says, tossing his girlfriend a lazy cliché sentiment.) Kate jumps out of the car! They’re over!
Six: My Mother, The Queen
In one of the most uncomfortable sequences (yes, even more than Kate getting etiquette tips from Victoria Tennant’s Celia about not flashing her crotch when she gets out of a vehicle), Charles and Wills attempt to have a tête-a-tête as Wills brings up Diana’s death (after murder allegations were determined to be unfounded), Camilla Parker-Bowles (at this point, already married to Charles in the real world, though we don’t see her at all in the film), and the mistakes Charles made with his mother. (Charles maintains Diana was “fragile,” but William says she was “broken” and blames Charles for not protecting her better.) Attempting to forge something resembling a normal rapport with his son, Charles speaks about personal duty and love, and makes mention of his familial connections, referring to “my mother, the queen,” as though Wills nor the audience had realized that the Prince of Wales was in fact the son of Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II.
Seven: Reconciliation on a Lake
Kate keeps boasting about how strong she’s gotten since she started rowing (training for a charity rowing competition), but the whole sequence of her on the water is just confusing. How is she losing weight when she’s actually the coxswain? (Does shouting into a megaphone burn that many calories, really?) And what type of boat is this that they’re using for rowing exactly. (Rather than a crew skull, it’s a rowboat.) When Wills appears on the shore, rather than have the girls row her and the boat over to the dock, Kate jumps into the water and swims over to Wills, who wants to talk to her. Instantly, they’re back together and he didn’t even need to get wet to win her back!
Eight: Out of Africa
Finally, we get to the moment that everyone’s been waiting for: the proposal. Reunited and in Africa, Wills gets down on one knee to propose to Kate after an awesome shot of two giraffes cuddling together. This scene is meant to serve as the climax of the entire film, the pivotal moment when Kate agrees to marry into the British Royal Family, when the commoner ascends to become the wife of the future King of England, but it plays out silently and without any dialogue whatsoever. We’re left with Wills on one knee and a green-screened shot of the African countryside. Yawn.
Jace Lacob is The Daily Beast's TV Columnist. As a freelance writer, he has written for the Los Angeles Times, TV Week, and others. Jace is the founder of television criticism and analysis website Televisionary and can be found on Twitter. He is a member of the Television Critics Association.