CULTURE & ARTS

The Fake European Countries Of Royal Rom-Coms: A Non-Exhaustive Atlas And Political Guide

Welcome to Genovia. And Aldovia. And Belgravia. And Madelvia. And Baltania.
The heroines of "A Christmas Prince," "The Princess Switch" and "The Princess Diaries," which take place in Aldovia, Belgravi
The heroines of "A Christmas Prince," "The Princess Switch" and "The Princess Diaries," which take place in Aldovia, Belgravia and Genovia respectively.

All that stands between you and your handsome prince is this blog. Welcome To HuffPost’s Rom-Com Week.

Boy meets girl. They fall in love. Boy turns out to be the ascendant monarch of a tiny European principality. After some hijinks, girl becomes a princess. They live happily ever after … in Aldovia. Or Belgravia. Or Cordinia. Or Calpurnia. It’s a love story for the ages.

Even in 2018, the princess fantasy remains an intoxicating one, repeatedly foisted upon women by way of formulaic romantic comedies. A royal love story is a tale as old as time, or at least as old as David stalking Bathsheba. Because our country is a plutocratic republic and not a monarchy, American makers of rom-coms have been faced with a choice: Either take the crowns off the principals and do a royal romance in civilian clothes (Audrey Hepburn’s “Sabrina,” say), or simply ship the whole story abroad (the Julia Stiles vehicle “The Prince and Me”). Or rather, as is often the case, “abroad.”

Why bind yourself to a country’s real history and culture, as the Julia Stiles movie did with Denmark, when you can just make stuff up?

This is how we ended up with the beautiful nation of Genovia (“The Princess Diaries”), where pears are aplenty and the sun shines nearly year-round, and the slightly less well-known Belgravia  (“The Princess Switch”), most famous for its international Christmas baking contest. 

So many tiny European nations with lonely monarchs looking for love, so little time in the Christmas season to find it.
So many tiny European nations with lonely monarchs looking for love, so little time in the Christmas season to find it.

These tiny but great European nations — and they are always European — tend to have a few things in common: populations of bland white people with vaguely British accents, a fervent Christmas spirit, a spunky young princess, and kings or soon-to-be kings of eligible bachelor age who are open to marrying American tourists as long as they’re adequately beguiling. (There are certain exceptions. In Genovia and Montsaurai, it’s the women who are the royals and their love interests who are the American commoners.)

But questions remain. Where are these small European countries actually located? What role does the monarchy play in them? Do they have any culture outside of a feverish adoration for all things Christmas? Why do so many of their vistas look disturbingly similar and … Romanian? (Spoiler alert: Tax rebates!)

To find out, we decided to do some painstaking research (aka watching as many royal-themed holiday movies as possible in two weeks and attempting to extrapolate information about the nations they are set in by way of context clues). Behold, a journey as comprehensive as we could bear through the fake European principalities of your favorite hate-watch romantic comedies:

 

Location: According to its tourism website (yes, it has a website!) Genovia is a “mile-long principality” filled with “white sand beaches, turquoise waters and sun-filled skies.” It’s nestled on the coastline between France and Spain.

Language: British English, sometimes spoken with a British accent, sometimes with an accent closer to Italian.

Climate: A temperate 75 degrees Fahrenheit all year long.

Reigning Monarchs: Queen Clarice Renaldi, succeeded by Princess Amelia Mignonette Thermopolis Renaldi, an unlikely young royal who looks suspiciously like American actress Anne Hathaway.

Government: Though the monarchy still holds weight in Genovia, the nation has a parliamentary government, led by a prime minister.

Export: The famous Genovian pears, of course.

National Anthem: “Genovia (The Land I Call My Home)” is a rousing and patriotic anthem, which describes the small nation’s blossoming pear trees and magnificent seas. You can listen to it in full here.

Palace: Beautiful with sprawling grounds. It looks similar to the Longford Castle in England.

Christmas Spirit Meter: Christmas is in no way the focus of Genovia. This little nation might even contain people who ― gasp! ― do not celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. (0 candy canes)

 

Location: Cordinia is a small sovereign state in the south of France. (Filmed in Romania.)

Language: British English, despite the state being embedded in France.

Climate: Temperate all year round, though it does occasionally snow during the winter. Between 1974 and 2014 it did not snow at all in Cordinia. The 1974 snow was dubbed “the Cordinian Christmas miracle.”

Reigning monarchs: Queen Isadora rules Cordinia; her son, Prince Leopold, is expected to ascend to the throne. The queen is very concerned that her son, who has been living in Philadelphia for school, might deign to marry a commoner.

Government: Constitutional monarchy.

Culture: The annual Christmas ball is one of the most important national events of the year, though only the elites are invited to attend. During the holiday season, the main city square is filled with locals selling Christmas trees, wreaths, art and other Christmas gifts. Everyone in Cordinia gets into the Christmas spirit. Also, the royals enjoy fencing and horseback riding.

Palace: The sprawling castle contains 117 rooms. The grounds also include a church and a cemetery.

Christmas Spirit Meter: Cordinia has an annual Christmas ball, and towns are filled with Christmas gear during the holiday season. (3 candy canes)

 

Location: Calpurnia is southwest of the French Alps.

Language: British English.

Climate: Described by tourists as a “virtual winter wonderland,” Calpurnia has snowy winters.

Reigning monarch: Queen Beatrice, the matriarch who puts a premium on tradition, soon to be succeeded by her son Prince Adrian, who fancies himself a modernizer and man of the people.

Government: The nation has a parliamentary government, though the royal family remains involved in economic and social policy, even lobbying for specific trade agreements.

Culture: The country is a small one, so most of the cultural activities are centered around one square. There are hat stands on the streets, even when it’s snowing, and walking tours are readily available. Calpurnia is a nation built on tradition. The royal family has slowly become more accessible over the years, but their royal coronation ceremony has never been opened to the public.

Christmas Spirit Meter: Only tasteful holiday decor, no giant nationwide Christmas events. (1 candy cane)

 

Location: Europe!

Language: British English.

Climate: Snowy winters.

Government: Constitutional monarchy.

Reigning monarch: The current King and Queen are pushing their son, the handsome Crown Prince Alexander Theodore William Hendricks (Alex for short), to return to Madelvia to resume his royal duties. Prince Alex has been living abroad in New York City and dating a commoner. The royal family is adamant about adhering to duty, tradition and the Royal Madelvian Marriages Act, which allows the family to reject a royal marriage with a non-royal.

Culture: This tiny European nation might be small, but what it “lacks in presence on the world stage,” it allegedly makes up for with a rich history and culture. The specifics of that history and culture remain a mystery, but just go with it. Christmas is a big deal in Madelvia, signaled by the fact that the palace ballroom is filled almost exclusively with Christmas trees during the holiday season.

Christmas Spirit Meter: Some holiday decor, but not much else. (1 candy cane)

 

Location: Winshire is a sovereign nation near Luxembourg. (Filmed in Romania.)

Language: British English.

Climate: Snowy winters, mountainous.

Reigning monarchs: King Maximilian, a widow and the father of Princess Theodora, a spirited tween who specializes in scaring away governesses. He is expected to marry his onetime girlfriend Countess Celia and make her his new queen.

Government: Constitutional monarchy.

Culture: Winter and Christmas are both integral to Winshirean culture. The wintertime includes the annual Christmas Eve gala, national tree decorating and, of course, snowball fights galore.

Palace: The castle has belonged to the royal family for centuries.

Christmas Spirit Meter: The annual Christmas Eve gala is a massive event. (2 candy canes)

 

Location: Europe!

Language: American English.

Climate: Snowy winters. The tiny country is often referred to as “magical,” especially during the holiday season.

Reigning monarch: Princess Catherine, the 17th princess of Montsaurai. However, she does find her royal duties to be a bit tedious, yearning for more creative time to pursue her passion of photography. Her late mother, an American who married into the Montsaurai royal family, instilled a love of art and Christmas in her daughter from a young age.

Culture: The biggest event of the year is the annual Christmas festival. The royals are always in attendance, and the city square is filled with Christmas trees, Santas dressed in green velvet rather than America’s traditional red, and men dressed in lederhosen with capes.

Palace: A beautiful castle built onto the top of a mountain, looking down on the surrounding city.

Christmas Spirit Meter: The annual Christmas festival is an intense affair in which much of the nation participates. (2 candy canes)

 

Location: Europe!

Language: British English.

Climate: Snowy winters.

Reigning monarch: Prince Duncan Humphries, a blandly handsome young man who shirks duty, arranged marriage and country by (temporarily) running off to America!

Government: Constitutional monarchy.

Culture: Balemont is yet another tiny European nation that is significantly invested in Christmas ― specifically utilizing the widespread love of Christmas and weddings to throw the royal wedding of the year and gin up support for the royal family. Other national pastimes include fencing.

Christmas Spirit Meter: The king and queen are obsessed with throwing a Christmas royal wedding, complete with a media firestorm to rival Meghan and Harry’s! (2 candy canes)

 

Location: Baltania is a tiny European nation nestled in the Carpathian mountains.

Language: British English.

Climate: Snowy winters.

Reigning Monarch: King Charles, a 39-year-old widower without children ― so he thinks! ― who may or may not actually have an heir to his throne already by way of a long-ago romance with his college sweetheart, who looks sneakily similar to ’90s teen icon Tara Reid.

Tourism: The king has recently visited Los Angeles to meet with investors of some kind who will apparently bring more tourists to the tiny country! The nation also has some of the best skiing in the world, which brings visitors in.

Culture: The nation’s biggest cultural event of the year is the annual Christmas ball. This is such a to-do that it is a serious problem if the king does not have a date to it.

Christmas Spirit Meter: The country has an annual Christmas ball, but not much else. Plus, the king prefers to run off to Los Angeles during the holidays. (1 candy cane)

 

Location: Europe! (Filmed in Romania.)

Language: British English.

Climate: Snowy winters, surrounded by mountains. The nation also has lush forests.

Reigning Monarch: King Richard, succeeding his late father. He very nearly abdicated due to his secret adoption being exposed. Luckily, his late father had changed the law! Now the king is pushing a modernization initiative to force Aldovia into the 21st century, with mixed results.

Government: Constitutional monarchy and parliamentary system. Aldovia has a prime minister, although he seems to have no control over economic policy.

Culture: The annual Christmas ball is the event of the year, though the nation is also fond of holding royal weddings on Christmas Day. Long bound by traditions that have held the country back economically, the country has recently seen a push to modernize. Aldovia is also in the midst of a labor crisis, experiencing widespread layoffs and strikes. Pub culture is strong here; at least the newly unemployed have plenty of options for drowning their sorrows. The monarchy tacitly tolerates the nation’s labor unions, but is not above strike-busting.

Christmas Spirit Meter: Aldovia has both a Christmas ball and a Christmas pageant. Plus, they’re throwing a Christmas royal wedding, and everyone in Aldovia talks about Christmas. (4 candy canes)

 

Location: Europe, but not to be confused with the affluent district in Central London of the same name. (Filmed in Romania.)

Language: British English.

Climate: Snowy winters, with mountainous terrain.

Reigning Monarchs: King George, Queen Caroline and their son, the handsome Prince Edward.

Government: Unclear. Is this principality a pure monarchy? Who can say.

Tourism: Belgravia hosts an international Christmas baking contest each year, which brings the “best pastry chefs in the world” and their fans and families into town. Inexplicably, the contest seems to be largely populated by American bakers with pre-existing rivalries. The nation is also home to a renowned ballet institute.

Culture: There is no holiday more important in Belgravia than Christmas. Not only is this apparent in the royal family’s appearance at the aforementioned baking contest, but also all over the capital city during the winter season. The main square is home to a Christmas festival, filled with Santas, ornament-making and plenty of room for snow angels. The royals also enjoy a healthy amount of horseback riding.

Palace: Grand and, naturally, full of Christmas decor. Looks suspiciously similar to Károlyi Castle in Romania.

Christmas Spirit Meter: Belgravia holds both an annual Christmas festival and an annual Christmas baking contest. (4 candy canes)

 

Location: Europe! (Filmed in Romania.)

Language: British English.

Climate: Snowy winters, warm springs and summers when all of the plants bloom, mountainous terrain.

Reigning monarchs: King Alexander, known as the “Grinch King” because he has expressed more practical sentiments about the holiday rather than showing true Christmas spirit like his beloved late father. He is a widower and father to Princess Christina.

Government: Constitutional monarchy.

Culture: Christmas is the most important holiday in San Senova ― in fact, according to legend, it was founded on the holiday. It was founded when a landowning lord went out to rescue local people from a blizzard, only to become lost; his wife and daughter then saved him and the people by skating across the nearby lake to guide them to safety. Soon after, the local people chose to become the lord’s subjects and the kingdom of San Senova was established. Ice skating is extremely popular in the tiny country, and though it is tiny, it is also a “giant tourist destination.”

Palace: A majestic structure, which is constantly decorated with wreaths, lights and Christmas trees. The family lives in the East Wing, though they are sometimes interrupted by tour groups.

Christmas Spirit Meter: San Senova has a Christmas market, a national caroling concert, and a holiday benefit for the community center (there’s apparently only one in San Senova). Plus, the country was literally founded on Christmas. (5 candy canes)

Claire Fallon contributed reporting to this piece.

Graphics by Dee Mackey/HuffPost

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