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The Ending Of Young Royals Season 1 Explained

The Swedish series "Young Royals" premiered on Netflix on July 1, and the coming-of-age drama is headlined by Edvin Ryding as Prince Wilhelm of Sweden. Wilhelm is second in line to the royal throne after his older brother, the Crown Prince Erik (Ivar Forsling). After Wilhelm gets into a fight at a club, he is shipped off to an elite boarding school called Hillerska. There, Wilhelm's well-to-do classmates include his second cousin August of Årnäs (Malte Gårdinger) and Felice, who is a wealthy noble. Simon (Omar Rudberg) and his sister Sara (Frida Argento) have a working-class background and commute to school instead of living in the dormitories. They are the children of a Spanish immigrant single mother, Linda (Carmen Gloria Pérez).

Though initially strongly opposed to the transfer, Wilhelm eventually gets acclimated to his new environment and begins a secret relationship with Simon. After Erik's tragic death makes Wilhelm the future king of Sweden, the affair is exposed. Caught between his obligations to his country, his duty, and his love, Wilhelm is faced with an impossible choice that will cause him great pain, regardless of what he ultimately decides to do. 

Both Wilhelm and Simon are trapped in a world they did not choose

Although Prince Wilhelm has a life that is certainly coveted by many, his actions make it clear that he is trapped in a gilded cage. His mother, Queen Kristina of Sweden (Pernilla August), reminds him more than once that being a prince is "a privilege, not a punishment." Yet for a young man who is grappling with his identity, the pressure and limitations of his royal life are suffocating, and he is never allowed to be his authentic self. For example, during a class discussion about tax evasion, Wilhelm's wealthy classmates agree that tax evasion is reasonable and those who take public assistance are "welfare scammers." The only person to object to this reasoning is Simon. Later, Wilhelm tells Simon that he admired his point of view, but when Simon asks why Wilhelm didn't speak up, she reveals that he is not allowed to comment on political matters. This means he has to keep all his opinions to himself and play the role he is expected to portray. 

Though their circumstances are vastly different, Simon also feels trapped. Living in the modest town of Bjärstad near Hillerska, and lacking any wealth or status, Simon is constantly ostracized and ridiculed by his classmates. However, his motivation to endure these indignities is to eventually be able to build a better life for himself. He confesses to his friends, "I like Bjärstad, but I don't want to live here forever." He aspires to make choices that will allow him to reach past his circumstances. 

Though both Wilhelm and Simon feel imprisoned in their lives, it would be fair to say that Wilhelm (who has every advantage), feels far less freedom to choose what he wants.

The pressures of appearances and status

The series makes it clear that the appearance of status, wealth, and social standing are paramount above everything else. 

Felice tries to start a relationship with Wilhelm once he arrives at the school. When her roommate Madison (Nathalie Varli) asks her why she doesn't pursue August, who has shown a keen interest in her, Felice retorts that "August isn't part of the Royal Family in the same way as Wilhelm." When Madison still doesn't understand the difference, Felice clarifies that "August's children won't become princes and princesses." Felice's family is one of the wealthiest in the world, yet she still feels inadequate and schemes to romance Wilhelm to raise her social standing. She also confesses to Sara while drunk at a party that she is sick of straightening her naturally wavy hair, but feels that she has to do so in order to meet societal expectations. 

August is similarly seen bowing to the pressures of his parentage. Although his family is bankrupt and can no longer pay his tuition, he refuses to liquidate portions of his estate and risk losing his title. This is also part of the reason he pursues Felice, in order to use her wealth to supplement his standing in the community. He also abuses ADHD medication in order to ensure that he is one of the elite students at school, captain of the rowing team, and school prefect. He even goes so far as to try and unsuccessfully con the school psychiatrist into prescribing him the medication, and when that fails, he begins buying the substances illegally. 

Wilhelm's sexuality adds immense pressure to his already strained life

As soon as Wilhelm is told of the death of his brother, he begins his grooming for his new responsibilities as the de facto crown prince. Not even a week after his brother's death, his parents stress that Wilhelm can no longer make any mistakes, and needs to be an exemplary role model who will be deeply scrutinized for the rest of his life. As constrained as he felt before, his life is now more stifled than ever. 

After returning to school, he initially rebuffs Simon and tries to distance himself from the person he loves, but drunkenly calls him one night. Simon helps Wilhelm into his room and the two make love. Unfortunately, August happens upon the scene and takes a video of their intimate encounter. Though the two boys are overjoyed in the blush of their new love, they keep the relationship a secret. Later, when August pressures his friends to blame Simon for a classmate being caught with drugs, Wilhelm defends Simon and exposes August's financial issues to everyone. In retaliation, August releases the video of Wilhelm and Simon, and predictably, all hell breaks loose. 

This would have been an international scandal even if Wilhelm wasn't the crown prince, but given that he is now the heir to the throne, his conduct is now a threat to the entire monarchy. When he tries to explain the dire consequences of what has happened to Simon, he says, "This isn't just about me, but my entire family." Wilhelm is no longer an individual but instead a symbol for his family, his country, and his legacy — an immense burden for anyone, let alone a teenager. 

Your choices define who you are

The final episode uses Felice and Wilhelm's journey through the series to show us that we always have a choice and we can choose to either be our true selves or the people others expect us to be. 

Felice was initially a status-coveting social climber who portrayed the facade of a happy existence through her social media. However, after she forges a friendship with Sara, she begins to reexamine her priorities. Sara has Asperger's and ADHD, making her a very frank individual, and she is the first truly authentic person that Felice has met. Felice genuinely embraces their friendship and defends Sara. She even works up the courage to stand up to her mother about her overbearing attitude.  Additionally, once the video of Wilhelm and Simon is released, she works to find the culprit so that Sara won't be forced to leave school and defends Wilhelm's right to privacy for being outed without his consent. 

The royal family decides that Wilhelm will deny that it was him in the video, and though he initially promises Simon that he will speak the truth, he eventually bows to the pressure of his family. When Wilhelm tries to explain that he is not ready to come out to the world, Simon is respectful of his choice, but also makes it clear that he has no intention of being untrue to himself by participating in a secret relationship. Though Simon was willing to bear the storm of the scandal with Wilhelm, he does not force him to publicly admit his sexuality if he is not ready. 

The last scene of the series shows the two boys embracing as Wilhelm apologizes to Simon and says, "I love you" before driving away.