A Royal Affair (‘En Kongelig Affære’)

DRAMA; 2hr 8min (Danish with subtitles)

STARRING: Mads Mikkelsen, Alicia Vikander, Mikkel Boe Følsgaard

Healing hands: Vikander and Mikkelsen

Unhappily wedded as a teenager in 1766 to her Danish cousin, the theatrically unstable King Christian VII (Følsgaard), alluring English princess Caroline Mathilde (Vikander) is resigned to humiliated isolation while the gleefully unhinged monarch whoops it up in brothels and pointedly ignores her. That changes — and how! — when the intriguing Dr Johann Friedrich Struensee (Mikkelsen) is appointed as Christian’s personal physician.


The enlightened doctor is manly, charming and smart, which puts him in the hot seat as an ideal antidote for the restless king and his stifled, underrated queen. He also has a progressive game plan and no qualms about manipulating a credulous Christian to make it happen. Ah, politics.


Director Nikolaj Arcel lingers invitingly over the sybaritic indolence and tactical backbiting of self-serving court life, where the liberal, forward-thinking Struensee wields increasing influence as the king’s mentor and the queen’s secret lover. A Royal Affair is an elaborately dressed window into the rise and fall of an historical golden age. Better yet, its backstage power plays, reckless liaisons and bitter, inevitable betrayals know no time frame.