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Young Royals Season 3 Review

The characters look at each other with love in Young Royals Season 3

Young Royals’ season 3 hits Netflix and superbly ramps the teenage angst, frustration, emotion, drama, and romance up to the max.

This review was written having seen episodes 1-5 of season 3 of Young Royals.

It’s time for a third – and final – term at Sweden’s most prestigious boarding school. Young Royals is back on Netflix for season 3, and it’s an equal parts entertaining, emotional, frustrating and endearing send off for Hillerska and her students. Season 3 feels very much like a product of its predecessors, expanding individual storylines whilst also encouraging a much more integrated feeling in regards to the ensemble as a whole. It’s not perfect, nor is it trying to be, because the realities of teenage life rarely are.

Crown Prince Wilhelm’s (Edvin Ryding) bombshell at the end of last season is not just ricocheting through Hillerska, but also the Royal Family, Simon’s (Omar Rudberg) family, his community, the entirety of Sweden, plus every corner of social media to boot. It’s a lot of pressure piled on top of an already grieving, anxious and angry Wille, who just wants to spend time with his boyfriend without the looming weight of the crown. Not to mention the shadows August (Malte Gårdinger) – whose own carefully curated life has shattered into a thousand pieces – and Sara (Frida Argento) – who has retreated into herself as she reels from her own betrayals – cast onto the young couple. Their snatched moments of privacy are buoys in a world that seems determined to drown them in its harsh realities. But are they enough?

Season 1 highlighted the freneticism of Wille’s self-discovery and unexpected responsibilities, his whirlwind romance and accension to Crown Prince mingled with teenage angst and grief for his brother. Season 2 slowed right down, bringing Wille’s mental health to centre focus and exploring his attempts at working out how he feels about it all. Season 3 is almost a combination of the two, frenetic but sombre, and a lot more focussed on the rippling consequences of Wille’s admission that it was him in the video. Whether he was brave, impulsive, selfish or careless very much depends on who you ask, and the show emphasises the effect his decision has had, not only on him, Simon and their relationship, but on everyone else around them too.

As one might expect in a show about teenagers, there is so much heightened emotion on display. But Young Royals is, and has always been, keen to let them be teenagers. They’re silly, self-indulgent, rash, and oversaturated with every emotion running simply because that’s what it can feel like being a teenager. Yes, there are times when things feels a little too over dramatic and romanticised. There are moments when – in a move that is perhaps quite silly in itself – looking at things from a logistical and/or ‘realistic’ perspective can be a little frustrating, and there are times when the glaring need for communication and discussion – particularly from the adults in the show – is so blindingly obvious that it almost overshadows the action on screen.

There is so much going on over the course of season 3, to the point that it feels like the show could equally be stretched out or paired back to give its contents the attention they deserve. And because it has so much dramatic meat to chew on, it also stands to reason that there’s also a lot of fat which could have been trimmed. There are so many thematical elements to Young Royals as a whole, from sexuality, relationships (platonic, familial and romantic), grief, mental health, guilt, eating disorders, race, bullying, institutional pressure, socialism and the relevance of the monarchy to name but a few.

Malte Gårdinger as August sits on his bed with eyes closed in Young Royals Season 3
Malte Gårdinger as August in Young Royals Season 3 (Robert Eldrim / Netflix © 2024)

And as a side effect of there being so much going on, it feels like the show races through things sometimes, placing emphasis on some issues and glancing past the rest. It’s particularly prominent here in season 3 and can feel a little jarring. The show will shift from a poignant, emotional moment in the music room between Wille and Simon, to a trap song playing over scenes of the rest of the students having fun in the courtyards in the space of a second. Or it will introduce something as serious as race or disordered eating, only for the mood to change again and for it to not be mentioned in any particular depth moving forward.

But, on the flip side, it feels as though it all comes back to that titular ‘young’. There’s an authenticity to its rawness, its chaotic energy feeding from that of its cast. Because while their intimate moments are all consuming to them, the world exists outside their bubble and turns regardless. It’s not an excuse, nor does the show seek to invalidate experiences because of perceived immaturity, but it does go some way to explain the show’s tendency to favour a little freneticism.

As that has been the case since the beginning, with the core of the show always being the unlikely, illogical but unerringly endearing relationship between Simon and Wille. Season 3 is perhaps the most ‘stable’ it has ever been – which isn’t saying much, mind you – and it’s nice to see them being so affectionate with each other without the weight of secrecy. They are trying so hard to be happy, and viewers want them to be happy, but it’s an uphill battle.

Whilst in season 2 Rudberg felt a little short-changed, there’s a lot more focus on how he’s coping this time around. There’s a wariness and a weariness to season 3’s Simon. He is obviously smitten with Wille, but the Crown Prince title brings a lot of baggage, and he’s left a little adrift in the struggle of being the ‘boyfriend’. Rudberg really deftly shows how the expectation vs reality dynamic isn’t always sunshine and rainbows, and his discomfort at having to potentially tone down his authentic self is really affecting.

But, as always, the MVP here is Ryding’s Wille. There’s a shift back to the Wille that was introduced in the pilot, and that was glimpsed again in the confrontation with August at the end of season 2, as the season progresses. The raw vulnerability of Wille is incredibly compelling. Ryding has such an expressive face, his eyes in particular have so much depth to them, that you can see the years of training battling against his roiling emotions. They’re clawing to the surface, testing his restraint, and the effort it takes for him to ‘perform’ is really palpable. He’s angry still, sad and grieving, but also desperate to be happy and himself. He’s anxious, wary of the weight of responsibility, and chaffing at the expectation he was never meant to endure. It’s a fantastically emotive and grounding central performance.

Another is Gårdinger’s August. Season 2 showcased a much more layered character, with August oscillating between being sweet and genuine to pompous and infuriating. And that’s really no different here, except this time the hurt, guilt and pain at the centre of it is so much more centred. He’s delightfully complex, and you can feel his heartbreak at losing Sara in every lovesick and pathetic glance he spares at where she would be. Argento is a little more removed from the main action throughout most of season 3, but her own guilt, shame and sadness is no less effective. And Nikita Uggla’s Felice gets more to do this time, with a much more resonant and personal subplot, even if it still isn’t as developed as it could be.

Young Royals Season 3: Trailer (Netflix)

As a whole, the entire cast feels like something special. There’s an authenticity to the school, steeped in tradition and history, and they all feel like real classmates, peers and friends. The interactions feel genuine, as awkward and affectionate and adversarial as they may be. The inter-year parties, the traditional ceremonies, the camping-trip-come-rave in season 3, are all highlights because they make Hillerska feel lived in. It’s a dynamic that really needed to work, especially within the heightened nature of the show itself, and thankfully it very much does. The adults have less development, but that’s never really been a priority with Young Royals. On paper it is a, in the loosest sense of the word, fantastical show about the youngest generation of one of the world’s oldest monarchies. But really, it’s about the trials and tribulations of growing up, regardless of privilege.

This review was written without having seen the finale, a separate episode dropping a week later than the bulk of season 3, so it is difficult to predict where it’s going to end up. There are pros and cons to every scenario, be they happy, sad, or a mixture of the two. But it is possible to say that this season feels like a very emotional send-off to these characters. And it will be a shame to say goodbye to them. But regardless of the outcome of Young Royals as a show, it has been a joy – if a heartbreaking and frustrating one – to spend time with Wille, Simon, August, Sara, Felice, and the rest of the gang at Hillerska.

Tack för allt.

Young Royals Season 3 will be released globally on Netflix on March 11, 2024. Read our review of Young Royals Season 2!

Young Royals Season 2 (Netflix) Review – Loud And Clear Reviews
Young Royals’ season 2 (Netflix) replaces the intensities of falling in love with a much more poignant exploration of mental health.
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