Love always triumphs in the end, and it absolutely does in Hallmark’s The Royal Nanny; despite the overtly cheesy plot and toned-down version of espionage norms, the character dynamics are a delight. I have such a bizarre relationship with royal films because seldom do the relationships feel established enough. I’m not expecting any sort of realness to these, but the cliché elements always knock a star or two down in ratings.
Still, The Royal Nanny is downright adorable where the romance is concerned and the best-decorated film since Ghosts of Christmas Always. (This is an important note, okay?) At best, the holiday film’s appeal stems from the quirky heroine and the not-so-subtle male damsel in distress.
First, Claire Champion is easily a character worth rooting for, and Rachel Skarsten plays her with effortless stamina that layers the character well enough in the short run-time. The problem with many Hallmark films is that we seldom get to know our characters. There’s much that relies on telling the audience more than showing it to us, but surprisingly, The Royal Nanny and Skarsten’s performances do both.
Claire’s resilience is palpable without Skarsten trying too hard, and the minute moments of vulnerability we get bring riveting heart to the cliché stoicism we often see in spies. Claire has her moments, sure, but the film never overdramatizes them. She has trauma that forges her path outside of duties, but we see much of her desires through her decisions. Here’s the thing, any romance fan could predict her wish from miles away, but the detail that sticks out is that we see it well enough before that moment, making it that much more organic.
As a heroine, Claire is also granted agency in the film. She chooses love and her career, even if it isn’t openly revealed because we see much of it through her decision to fight even after she’s suspended. She’s the type of character whose strength lies in her vulnerabilities and quirks, allowing the nanny bits to feel like a fun sort of Mary Poppins spin. In any other film, fighting with an umbrella would be cringe-worthy, and while it’s certainly something, it’s entertaining as it pulls a play on standard norms.
Anyone who knows me knows that the titular character in NBC’s Chuck, Chuck Bartowski, is my ultimate fictional boyfriend. The show’s twist on making the man the asset instead of putting a female character as the damsel in distress makes it a refreshing gem. The Royal Nanny’s Prince Colin (Dan Jeannotte) might not work at a fictional electronics shop, but he’s every bit a heartthrob like Chuck. He’s the one who’s abducted, and though he might not be the perfect nerd, he adores his sister and kids in the same way Chuck does, making him an ultimate catch for a badass woman like Claire. (In many ways, Claire’s search for a home could also mirror Sarah Walker’s from Chuck.)
Additionally, placing trust at the center of the romance’s conflict works because it doesn’t allow their budding relationship to feel too easy. When Hallmark tackles storylines like this, it’s often quicker to jump toward trusting than allowing the characters to prove themselves. And doing it this way leads to an unnecessary third-act breakup. But Colin’s mistrust at the beginning, followed by the growth after he realizes that his niece and nephew are in safe hands, makes complete sense. It also makes him easier to appreciate as a hero, as well as his sincere desire to give back consistently, which was a lovely little addition.
While the script relies on one too many clichés and the story is far from perfect as there are many things we could say about the monarchy, Colin and Claire are one of the sweetest Hallmark pairs this year. Because of how involved he is in the kids’ lives, watching them have fun together while simultaneously having honest conversations made for a sweet romance.
And sometimes, a sweet romance is what we could all use these days because, gah, they were adorable at the gala. I adore nothing more than watching a man who’s absolutely smitten after seeing a woman in a red dress. (This has got to be the most gorgeous dress in a Hallmark film, right? I’m going to need more details, please.) Such sweet moments after starting off on the wrong foot always makes the relationship hit a bit harder, and The Royal Nanny nails their dynamic.
If Hallmark were smart enough, it’d milk this into a franchise like Netflix’s A Christmas Prince films. Hallmark did so with the Finding Father series, so I’m not ruling it out yet. Give us a Royal Nanny Engagement and a Royal Nanny Wedding, please, and thank you. Plot twist: she fights someone with her bouquet at the ceremony.
In a film like this, it’s also always lovely when women are allowed to trust each other, and I appreciated the detail of Princess Rose (Katie Sheridan) being so trusting of Claire. Plus, having her be the kind of mother who fights against MI6 superior officers for her children? That’s two badass women in a Christmas film, and if we add in the powerhouse of a woman Mrs. Lansbury is, we have three. Yes, please.
Similar Christmas Film Recommendation: A Royal Queens Christmas and The Santa Stakeout
Hallmark’s The Royal Nanny is far from perfect, a few editing mishaps are guaranteed to make film buffs like me cringe, and the script gets choppy, but for a Christmas film, it’s precisely the type of delightful romance that’s worth rewatching a few times over.
The Royal Nanny is now streaming on Peacock or Frndly TV.