A Royal Affair
A Royal Affair poster
Directed by Nikolaj Arcel
Produced by Meta Louise Foldager
Sisse Graum Jørgensen
Louise Vesth
Starring Mads Mikkelsen
Alicia Vikander
Mikkel Følsgaard
Music by Cyrille Aufort
Gabriel Yared
Cinematography Rasmus Videbæk
Editing by Kasper Leick
Mikkel E.G. Nielsen
Distributed by Nordisk Film Distribution
Release March 29, 2012
Running time 137 minutes
Country Denmark
Czech Republic
Language Danish
Gross revenue $7,594,693

A Royal Affair is a 2012 historical drama film directed by Nikolaj Arcel, starring Mads Mikkelsen, Alicia Vikander and Mikkel Følsgaard. The story is set in the 18th century, at the court of the mentally ill King Christian VII of Denmark, and focuses on the romance between his wife, Caroline Matilda of Great Britain, and the royal physician Struensee.

The film received two Silver Bears at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film at the 85th Academy Awards. It was also nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film award at the 70th Golden Globe Awards.


Princess Caroline Matilda of Great Britain is shown writing a letter to her children in which she professes to tell them the truth. The film flashes back to when Caroline was in England, about to leave to marry Christian VII of Denmark. She is passionate about the arts and education, but when she arrives in Denmark she is told that many of her books are banned by the state. Christian is mentally ill and Caroline is unhappy in the marriage. She is soon pregnant with a son (Frederick VI of Denmark), but the couple grow far apart and the king stops visiting her bedroom.

The German doctor Johann Friedrich Struensee is recruited to work as the king's personal physician. Struensee is a man of the Enlightenment, greatly influenced by the writings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. He keeps this secret from the state, who welcome him because his father is a well-known priest. King Christian takes a strong liking to Struensee and he becomes a close friend and confidant. When Struensee manages to inoculate Prince Frederick against a Small Pox epidemic, he becomes greatly respected in the court. Christian has very little influence in the Privy Council, and the laws of the country are mostly decided by statesmen, but Struensee tells the king that he can have more power by "acting". The doctor begins writing speeches for the king which advocate his own progressive views, and several reforms are passed in Denmark.

Caroline and Struensee learn of their mutual interests and liberal views. They fall in love and begin an affair. When Caroline becomes pregnant, they protect themselves by convincing Christian to resume sleeping with her. As a result, Princess Louise Auguste is believed to be Christian's daughter. Meanwhile, Struensee is appointed a Royal Adviser and eventually persuades Christian to assign him the right to pass any law, making him Denmark's de facto leader. His reforms include the abolition of censorship, the abolition of torture, and reducing the power of the aristocracy. The queen mother, Juliana Maria of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, notices the romance between Caroline and Struensee and their affair is revealed. Christian is initially angry, but he forgives his friend and states that they must carry on as if nothing had changed.

Juliana and the prominent statesman Ove Høegh-Guldberg are strongly against Struensee's reforms, while the Danish people also grow unhappy that a civilian foreigner has power over the country. Høegh-Guldberg incites a coup against him. Christian refuses to hand Struensee over to the people, but Høegh-Guldberg lies that the doctor and Caroline are planning to murder him and take control of Denmark. Christian thus allows Caroline to be arrested and taken to live in exile, while Struensee is sentenced to death. Christian issues a pardon, not wanting his friend to die, but Høegh-Guldberg keeps this from materialising in time and Struensee is beheaded. Høegh-Guldberg becomes Denmark's new de facto leader, and many of Struensee's reforms are overturned.

The film returns to Caroline writing the letter, where she reveals that she is dying of an illness. Ten years later, Prince Frederick and Princess Louise Auguste read the letter. On-screen text reveals that when he became king, Frederick returned to the reforming ways of Struensee.


  • Mads Mikkelsen as Johann Friedrich Struensee
  • Alicia Vikander as Caroline Matilda of Great Britain
  • Mikkel Følsgaard as Christian VII of Denmark
  • David Dencik as Ove Høegh-Guldberg
  • Søren Malling as Hartmann
  • Trine Dyrholm as Juliana Maria of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel
  • William Jøhnk Nielsen as Frederick VI of Denmark
  • Cyron Bjørn Melville as Enevold Brandt
  • Rosalinde Mynster as Natasha
  • Laura Bro as Louise von Plessen
  • Bent Mejding as J.H.E. Bernstorff
  • Thomas W. Gabrielsson as Schack Carl Rantzau
  • Søren Spanning as Münster
  • John Martinus as Ditlev Reventlow
  • Erika Guntherová as Hofdame
  • Harriet Walter as Augusta of Saxe-Gotha
  • Klaus Tange as Minister

External links

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