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Hallmark Countdown to Christmas: One Royal Holiday Recap/Review

If you know anything about my film “reviews,” you know that I loathe royal films. Doofy female lead meets English guy in suit who happens to be a prince of a country ending in -tania or -erg.

Needless to say, One Royal Holiday is no different.


When Anna (Osnes) offers a stranded mother (Clark) and son (Tveit) shelter in a blizzard, she learns that they are the Royal Family of Galwick. Anna shows the Prince how they do Christmas in her hometown, encouraging him to open his heart and be true to himself. Starring Laura Osnes, Aaron Tveit, Krystal Joy Brown, Victoria Clark and Tom McGowan.

The two leads are big Broadway actors, so I’m mildly hopeful that they’ll sing something.


Our Hallmark Heroine Anna wanders around a Crate & Barrel, her eyes starry and arms heavy with Christmas gift bags. She is doing some last-minute shopping before heading home to her quaint Connecticut home for Christmas.

Anna has either pre-wrapped her presents or shopping now comes in dollar store gift bags.

Cut to our male lead Prince James Gallant. He and his mother are at a local hospital that was important to the DEAD KINGTM. The royal family has donated money to the place and they’re just stopping by from the country of Galwick to say hey.

While the prince and queen make a speech, Anna ends her shift at the very same hospital. Is this the first time a Hallmark Heroine is a nurse? She’s not baking for the hospital, right? Anyway, Anna speaks to the receptionist who pries into her love life and says, “[You’re] healing other people’s hearts…what about yours?”

Even she thought the line was terrible.

The next day, Anna embarks on her merry way home while Prince James does the same. The prince is to make a big speech on Christmas Eve and is in the midst of writing it. His mother stresses the importance of the address to him, saying that it needs to inspire the people. James assures her that he’s got it in the bag. Being a chill lady, Mother accepts her son’s affirmations and then asks the driver to stop somewhere for tea. I don’t care of you’re English or from Galwick. No one does that.

The driver parks into a knock-off Dunkin Donuts so that James can get the tea. Anna is ahead of him in the queue and offers James her BOGO doughnut. He coldly refuses. She tries to convince the aloof stranger to eat one, but the prince comments the Galwickian Yule Cake is better than any American doughnut. After explaining to her what it is, it turns out it’s just a cruller.

Their meet-cute is interrupted by James’s right-hand man who comes bearing bad news. A storm has grounded their plane and they’re stuck in between Boston and the airport. The rest of their entourage (including the security team) have made it to the airport and will be going ahead. This is a pitifully awful entourage. The queen and prince are royally stranded.

Thankfully, our high-spirited heroine overhears the problem and offers up a solution. Her father runs a cozy inn and could let them crash there. When the royal family’s local driver hears that they’ll be going to that particular inn, he refuses to take them. It’s an hour away and he can’t be bothered.

The driver better watch his back because that prince is putting a hit on him.

Anna proposes another solution…she’ll drive them! They actually take up her up on this and drive off with a stranger. This is bonkers. Anyway, we learn that Prince James has never sat in the front seat of a car.

The group arrives at the inn and, unlike the baby Jesus, they got room for this prince. Anna runs ahead inside while her father greets her guests.

For some reason, James decided to keep it a secret from Anna that he and his mother are royalty. However, they tell her dad. He bows in response. They tell Anna two minutes later.

The royals get settled into their accommodation. The inn offers no room service or pillow menus which irks snooty James, but Mother tells him to suck it up.

The next day, James and co. pack up for departure. However, the snowfall worsened overnight, leaving them stuck in town for another day. The prince is saddened by this turn of events, but slowly warms to his new surroundings.

James continues to struggle to write his speech. He is convinced by his mother to take a break and join in the town’s celebrations. His icy heart continues to melt. Anna even gives him advice on making his speech resonate with his people.

Anna and James bond in a horse ridden carriage.

Back at the inn, Anna’s dad shares the good news that the royals’ flight is set for tomorrow. James looks a little disappointed, but, hey, he’s gotta go to that fake country of his sometime. In bad news, the town’s Pajama Ball venue is snowed out. James suggests that the inn holds the Ball in the dining room. Everyone agrees with this haphazard plan.

They then very naturally burst into an acapella version of Deck the Halls and decorate a bare tree.

Later, Anna learns that the traditional Pajama Ball was actually a stopgap for an actual fancy ball. Everyone just got lazy and kept doing the pajama thing every year. With all the changes going on, group decides that they’ll go extravagant this year. Anna worries that going fancy will make her lose her connection with her DEAD MOTHERTM who loved the pajama nonsense, but James gives her a bit of free therapy to get over it.

The next morning, a tree stops the royals from leaving the town. It’s like a horror movie. Rather than write his speech, James busies himself with more Christmas events and gala prep. He’s king of procrastination.

At breakfast, James and his mother talk about the DEAD KINGTM and his lovely stay at a Boston hospital. Anna gets excited upon learning that he stayed at her hospital, but she doesn’t think she was his nurse.

After building a gingerbread house all by himself, Anna gives James a Hallmark ornament. (At a Balsam Hill website near you.)

The next morning, the royal family and Anna make up a reason to stay another day. They light candles and do a group song of Joy to the World. Unfortunately, the Galwick tabloids have caught wind of James’s long-winded detour in America. Anna feels guilty and tells James to get his ass back to his castle.

The royal family departs with unspoken words left between Anna and the King.

It’s the day of the royal Christmas address. James finds an old speech of his dad’s and is convinced that the nurse mentioned in it is Anna. At the swanked-up Pajama Ball, Anna is sad she can’t dance with a prince.

She’s stuck with dad as her date. However, Dad dumps Anna for the cook who looks banging in a new dress.

Anna receives a text which contains James’s speech. She grows teary-eyed.

The speech is so moving that it elicits comments from the people of Galwick like “Yeah!” and “I so agree!!”

Anna tries to grab the next flight to Galwick to tell James she’s into him, but her plans are interrupted by James who grabbed the next flight to Connecticut to tell Anna he’s into her. They talk about the DEAD KINGTM and discover that it was indeed Anna who cared for him. They kiss.

The couple waltzes at the ball and show off their Broadway dancing skills. They kiss. After the ball, the whole family and royal group head to the inn to celebrate Christmas. James gives Anna slippers. They kiss. FIN.

Everyone watches them tongue each other.


I want to see these people on Broadway. I want to hear their beautiful voices that were teased throughout this film! That’s my biggest gripe here.

Anyway, I found it funny that James was very concerned throughout the whole film that the people of Galwick thought that he wasn’t committed to the country. Then, in the final scene, James straight up leaves the country on the first flight to Connecticut. Not only that, but he donated royal money to a hospital in America and his dad’s last speech waxed poetic about the wonderful American nurse who cared for him. James will need to work harder to give the people some confidence in the royal family’s loyalty to the country.

I’m not a royal romance fan, so this did nothing for me. Both leads were enjoyable and did what they could with the cliches they were served. I can’t fault them for that.

Rating: 1 out 5 dry crullers


  • Why do the header images never do the lead actors no justice?? This is a common trend. Additionally, the header does not need to be half and half. This film is about the lead couple, not the secondary and tertiary love stories.
  • The intro song is a rendition of Winter Wonderland as sung by the two lead actors.
  • Every time they say Galwick, I think they’re about to say Galway which is not a country. But I guess Galwick isn’t either.
  • Anna (upon discovering that her guests are royalty): Dad! What are we going to do?!
    Dad: We invite them in.
    Anna: But Dad they’re royalty!
    Dad: I’ll give them extra towels.
    The line reading from Dad is top notch.
  • Everyone can sing in this thing and all they do tease singing! As in half a Christmas carol! It’s so frustrating!
  • James has to get used to doing mundane things like eating breakfast buffets. Due to COVID-19, we can’t have hotel buffets and that is something dumb I miss.
  • New Englanders reading this, do you constantly talk about how bad the weather is? Because there is not one scene where the characters don’t mention the craaaaazy weather or some other NE tradition.
  • Anna tells James that the reason the royal family is important is because it links the people to their history. This film is monarchy propaganda.
  • Uh, when does a prince become king? Shouldn’t James be the king already? It’s been over a year.

That’s film numero tres done! What’s up next? Why On the 12th Date of Christmas, of course. With a title like that I’m hoping for truly terrible stuff.