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'The Royals' series premiere recap: 'Stand and Unfold Yourself'

Scandals, sex, and a death set a royal standard in E’s first scripted drama.

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Paul Blundell/E! Entertainment

The Royals

TV Show
run date:
Elizabeth Hurley, William Moseley, Alexandra Park
Mark Schwahn
E! Entertainment Channel
Current Status:
In Season

If you had any doubts whether Elizabeth Hurley could convincingly wear the crown as Britain’s HBIC, put them to rest: E! first scripted drama offers Hurley a platform to do what she does best, arching her eyebrow just so (basically as much as Botox will allow), showing off her ridiculously toned curves (#fitspo alert!) and offering bitchy one liners that cement her character’s reputation as a queen whom you don’t want to cross.

Just a few minutes into the show, it becomes clear that while Queen Helena may be the fairest in all the land, Royals is very much an ensemble show with a cast of royal relatives who have more in common than the scandalous set from Gossip Girl than the real-life bunch over at Buckingham Palace. Here’s the cast, by way of a royal introduction:

King Simon (Vincent Regan): He’s kind and affectionate toward his children, probably as a way to compensate for his wife’s taste for tyranny. He’s a loveable dad, but the type you largely ignore—kinda like Gossip Girl’s Rufus.

Prince Liam (William Moseley): With his chiseled abs and artfully tousled hair, this royal could pass for the sixth member of 1D. I’m sure that made some of you swoon—but wait, there’s more: Though he’s slightly misguided, he has good intentions. And oh, he has a taste for women and a well-drawn pint.

Princess Eleanor (Alexandra Park): A stylish rebel with a taste for sexy miniskirts and silver sequined dresses. Also noteworthy? Liam’s twin has a taste for threesomes, which seems to signify that there’ll be lots of sex in this scripted series.

Prince Cyrus (Jake Maskall): Fans of Gossip Girl will recognize that this character is really just Chuck, all grown up and with a much greater streak of self-loathing and ambition. (And with a more expansive necktie collection.) He’s conniving and I should add, suspiciously good at handling firearms.  

Princesses Penelope (Lydia Rose Bewley) and Maribel (Hatty Preston): This pair of clueless cousins—Cyrus’ daughters—provides comedic foil to the highborn royal heirs. Awkward with red hair, they’re totally reminiscent of real-life royal cousins Beatrice and Eugenie.

No upstairs is complete without the downstairs, and rounding out the show’s characters are Oliver Milburn as Ted, the head of royal security and his British-born, American-raised daughter Ophelia (played by Merritt Patterson).

Now, onto the decadence, secrets, and sex. The show begins with Liz, who contemplates royal engagements in a lacy dress. Her schedule for the day includes dress fittings and some face time with Sir Elton John, who wants to pop “round and say ‘hello.’” That provokes her first one-liner of the night: “You give someone a royal title and they treat the place as if it’s a Starbucks.” Burn.

Just as quickly as we’ve been introduced to Queen Helena, the sequence shifts to Liam, who’s throwing darts at some sort of pub. “Some things in life are meant to be savored,” he says. “Like a cold drink, time with your mates, and “a woman in your bed.” Ugh, so he’s a douche. He glances around the room and Ophelia catches his eye. They immediately start hooking up in a random corner of the pub and though he’s shadowed by security, she’s a smart cookie: Why settle for a make-out session when you could snuggle in a prince’s bed? They head off to take their activities, um, somewhere more private, but just as Liam’s raising his head off her perky little posterior the next morning, a security guard alerts Prince Liam—he’s wanted by mummy.

He sets off running to meet the rest of the royals, including Eleanor, who’s just flown in from Paris following some scandalous behavior. (Note to self: dancing on a table in 6-inch stilettos + a miniskirt = inevitable crotch shot.)

Tragic news: the Queen’s eldest son Robert—whom we’ve never met—has died during a military exercise. It would be positively peasant-like to exhibit grief, and the rest of the episode devotes itself to exploring how each member of the royal family deals with the death.

NEXT: Attitude, served rare