It seems to have been going on a long time – the royals story - First of all we had the Royal Wedding, then the Diamond Jubilee, then the announcement of the royal baby expected in July . . . the fascination with royals, their lives and loves seems endless. Just this last week, Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands abdicated in favour of her son Willem-Alexander and the ceremony and the celebrations - not to mention the fashion! - filled column after column in the papers.
It was almost exactly a year ago that I wrote my Date With Kate column about writing a Royal Romance. That was based on the workshop I’d been asked to run by Harlequin Mills & Boon talking about how to write a royal romance, that had been inspired by the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton. (If you want the full details of that ‘20p Guide to Writing a Royal Romance’ you’ll find them here.)
At the time, those points had an extra impact for me,. When I gave the workshop I had to admit that I’d never actually written a royal romance – well, apart from a couple of stories of Sheikhs who were rules of their own kingdoms. But when I wrote that blog I was also writing a story that was to be my very first Royal romance – the book that became A Throne For the Taking . And while I was writing that, there were several points in my own workshop that I put a special emphasis on and kept at the front of my mind when I was writing about my own ‘black sheep prince’ and making his story work.
In fact, I copied these lines from my workshop notes and stuck them up on my desk to remind me always to keep them in mind.
What words? – these ones:
Royals are just people
Men and woman
They are subject to the same emotional pressures as the rest of us
Together with some extra additional pressures that come from who/what they are.
As soon as I create that ‘black sheep prince’ (that was my working title of the story) I knew that he was very, very human. He had never wanted to be a royal – a prince or a king at all. In fact he thought that he had had one attempt at being a member of the royal family and he had failed at that. He was never going to go back to the country that should have been his homeland. In this, I was really working in the same way that I’ve written all my heroes. They may be Greek billionaires, hugely powerful sheikhs, brilliant entrepreneurs who had amassed an amazing fortune – but above all else, they are men. They are human beings and the royalty/wealth/power etc are trappings that are fastened on to them as part of the story.
It is the human beings – the men and the women who are our heroes and heroines - who fall in love and who fear that their feelings are not reciprocated. Or that they have given that love to someone who is not worthy of it. Someone who will throw that love right back at them if they want to.
Most of us have the luxury of living and loving with a large degree of privacy. If a relationship doesn’t work out, then we can deal with it without the world knowing about it. But royals can’t do that – every paparazzi’s lens is focussed on them, wanting to snap a picture of just who thy are with now. If they break up then it’s front page news. A relationship that is played out in the spotlight is under very different pressures than a more private one.
And the other lines I wanted to remember where these:
Which one is the fish out of water?
Which one is put of their element?
It makes such a huge difference. The full member of the royal family – the prince or princess – knows what is required of them. They are used to the ceremonial, the protocol, the routine, the publicity that comes with their life of privilege. And the person who comes in ‘from the outside’ so to speak has so much to learn – all of it done in the fierce focus of that spotlight.
But Alexei, the prince – the potential king – that I created was the one who was the ‘fish out of water’. He suddenly had the role of King thrust upon him and he had to learn how to be the ruler his country needed. His heroine, Ria, is the one with the knowledge of court protocol, the one he has to turn to without being sure whether he can trust her or not.
They both have to play out the pretence of the ‘fairy-tale’ romance in the public eye and then go home to the privacy of their rooms in the palace where they can throw off the responsibilities and the roles of potential king and queen and simply be themselves. And it was those ‘selves’ whose story fascinated me most.
So in a way there were two romances going on here – or maybe even three. The romance between Alexei and Ria as people, no matter what their public lives were like. Then one between the King and Queen of Mecjoria – members of the royal family who had to create a relationship as rulers of the country that needed them. And finally there was the ‘romance’ between my hero and heroine and the country they were to be King and Queen of for the future.
It was no wonder I found the story so fascinating and the way that it worked on so many levels. I think perhaps this is why I have taken so long to come round to writing a royal romance. Why I had to wait until just the right story presented itself that would fit with Kings and Queens, court ceremonial and the formality of palaces etc. A royal romance brings with it some extra complication, so many shades of feeling and possibilities for emotional tension – both in public and private. It was a challenge but I loved writing Alexei and Ria’s story and so I was thrilled when I learned that Romantic Times had given it a rating of 4.5 and said that ‘The majesty of Walker’s fictional principality shines, and her frenemies-to-love story is perfectly passionate.’
Kate’s royal hero is Alexei Sarova, that black sheep prince who has to face up to a new and unexpected destiny with his heroine Honoria Escalona (Ria) as the woman he wants as his queen.
A kingdom's safety...
Betrayed by those she loves, Honoria Escalona must now face the only man capable of bringing stability to the Mediterranean kingdom of Mecjoria. A cold, hard man who once called her his friend... Alexei Sarova-the true King of Mecjoria.
In exchange for her happiness
A Throne For the Taking will be published in the Royal and Ruthless miniseries in both Harlequin Presents and Mills & Boon Modern in June.