'The Royals' Vs. 'Hamlet': E!'s Scripted Show Has More In Common With Shakespeare's Play Than You'd Imagine
So much drama, intrigue, manipulation, and tragedy are all going down on E!'s The Royals that the show is almost like a Shakespearean play. And let's be real, the series is clearly inspired by one specific William Shakespeare play: The Royals is a lot like Hamlet . And yeah, it's intentional. The Royals creator Mark Schwahn was inspired by the book Falling for Hamlet , which is a modern teen-skewing retelling of Shakespeare's tragedy. So if you feel slightly foolish that you've been comparing E!'s first scripted show to one of the greatest plays of all-time, don't. You're not alone in being surprised that I'm discussing E! and William Shakespeare in the same article, and hey, that was Schwahn's intention.
While The Royals is not an exact modern adaptation of Hamlet (like some other shows out there), comparisons beg to be made once you start to look at characters from the show and the play. With The Royals having the character Ophelia, who is dating the prince, some parallels to the play are more obvious than others. Yet not every character on the E! show has a clear Hamlet counterpart (sorry, Eleanor! I adore you anyway), and the fate of the characters on The Royals had better be different than Hamlet since not everyone can die during the run of the show — at least not this soon. As Season 1 of The Royals prepared to change, well, everything in its May 17 finale, here's how closely the faux-royal family is matching up to that play that literally all of us read (or pretended to read) in school.
Hamlet Vs. Liam
Liam is a more lovable character than Hamlet, but Hamlet started the play mourning the death of his father and Liam started The Royals mourning the death of his brother, so the princes do have some common ground. And the comparisons have only increased as The Royals has gotten deeper into Season 1. Now that Liam's father King Simon has been stabbed, Liam has started to suspect that his Uncle Cyrus had something to do with it. Hamlet being approached by the ghost of his father telling him that Claudius poisoned him to death is what starts all of the depressing actions of Hamlet. As Liam has the support of his twin sister Eleanor (who could perhaps be linked to Hamlet's friend Horatio, but it's a stretch) and seems significantly more mentally sound than Hamlet, I'm hopeful he won't take a page out of the Danish prince's book.
Claudius Vs. Cyrus
These C-named bastards are the cause of much of the drama in their respective stories. In Hamlet, Claudius kills his brother, marries his sister-in-law Gertrude, and assumes the position of King of Denmark. While it's still unclear if Cyrus had anything to do with his brother's stabbing on The Royals, he has become prince regent while his brother, King Simon, lies unconscious in a hospital.
Gertrude Vs. Helena
Mother to Hamlet, Gertrude marries her brother-in-law after her husband dies. Although there are many interpretations of Gertrude's true intentions, for the most part, she does seem to really care about her son Hamlet. That's more than I can say for The Royals' Helena. Gertrude had nothing to do with her husband's death, while I'm not confident in saying that Helena had nothing to do with Simon's stabbing. Even if Helena didn't have anything to do with Simon getting wounded, she has been making the most of this advantageous situation for herself. At least I can say with 100 percent certainty that Helena won't be marrying Cyrus anytime soon.
Ophelia Vs. ...Ophelia
Hamlet's troubled lady friend is Ophelia and her father is Polonius, a counselor to the king. Ophelia in The Royals is dating Prince Liam and is the daughter of the palace's head of security, Ted Pryce. Like Liam with Hamlet, The Royals' Ophelia is in a much healthier mental state than her Shakespearian counterpart. Ophelia in Hamlet dies from suicide after her father is murdered and Hamlet shuns her, while I cannot even possibly imagine that would be The Royals' Ophelia's fate. I was nervous that Liam would turn on Ophelia after his father was stabbed like Hamlet turned on his Ophelia, but the young British prince still seems to love her. But with Ophelia accepting to audition for a dance company in New York, maybe that will become her equivalent of the "nunnery."
Polonius Vs. Ted Pryce
Polonius in Hamlet rocks some quite famous quotes ("Neither a borrower nor a lender be" and "To thine own self be true"), but he's often interpreted as being bumbling. (I mean, he does die after being accidentally stabbed by Hamlet while hiding behind a tapestry — pretty lame.) Although Queen Helena is trying to make it look like it's Pryce's fault that the King was stabbed, Pryce on The Royals seems like a decent man . . . not to mention a badass. While Polonius was Claudius's counselor, Pryce pulled a gun on Cyrus during May 3's episode "The Great Man Down," so it doesn't look like he's thrilled to serve the new prince regent. (Unless, of course, Ted is in on Cyrus's game... but I can't even deal with that theory right now.)
Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Vs. Maribel & Penelope
In perhaps the biggest stretch of all, I'm venturing to say that Princesses Maribel and Penelope and closest to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in Hamlet. Maribel and Penelope are Cyrus's daughters (BTW — I still want to know who the hell their mom is), while Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were Hamlet's friends who ended up working for Claudius. Both pairs are not seen without the other in tow and their incompetent antics are for the audience's amusement. But the goofy Maribel and Penelope definitely don't deserve to die like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
As previously mentioned, Schwahn understands that while he may have been inspired by Hamlet, not every character on The Royals can meet an ending like they did in the play. He said about Falling for Hamlet, "I didn’t think that that exact story was good for a spot-on series because, well, spoiler alert, everyone dies."
And thank goodness Schwahn has decided to not have our new beloved royal family suffer the same fate as their Hamlet counterparts, even if King Simon may eventually become a ghost.