No Labels

Why This “Young Royals” Star Doesn’t Want to Label His Character’s Sexual Orientation

With Swedish LGBTQ+ teen series “Young Royals” back for another season, star Edvin Ryding has spoken out about the importance of supporting people who do not label themselves.

The first season followed Prince Wilhelm (Ryding) and his secret romance with Simon Eriksson (Omar Rudberg), another male student attending his elite boarding school. The second season explores the aftermath of their forced outing.

Being a royal, Wilhelm’s sexuality is exposed to intense scrutiny and categorization from the public and the press. But Ryding feels that if Wilhelm had it his way, he wouldn’t be labeled at all, and he felt that was important to represent.

“There are a lot of different labels right now, but the thing about Wilhelm is he doesn’t have a label,” Ryding said in an interview with PinkNews. “Although he’s unsure of what he wants, he knows he enjoys spending time with Simon and it doesn’t matter that he is a boy, that’s not the thing itself.

“For him it’s just fine being unlabelled and I think that’s important to show the audience that you can be unlabelled.”

The conversation about labels is particularly relevant after Kit Conner—star of Netflix’s other hit queer romance “Heartstopper”—was bullied into coming out.

Ryding hopes that “Young Royals” empowers viewers to be themselves, with or without labels, and if the fan messages are anything to go by, the show is succeeding. “There are a lot of people coming up to us in the streets saying: ‘This show gave me the courage to come out to my parents, or my family or friends,’” he said.

Series creator Lisa Ambjörn chimed in to discuss representation as a whole, particularly how the show explores a very specific LGBTQ+ story (that of a queer royal). “Wilhelm’s problem is that he is the crown prince, not that he’s in love with Simon,” Ambjörn said, “you can see an explosion of [LGBTQ+] shows now as well. And that makes me so happy, because it means that there is a wide variety of shows for everyone.

“Everyone can find a show where they feel someone is going through the same things as them. And that makes us freer in our interpretation because we can dare to be more specific about what we are actually telling. We don’t have to represent everyone.”

Director Rojda Sekersöz added, “What’s important for us is that in our story their sexuality isn’t an issue so we want to keep their sexuality a norm. This is the world they live in and that’s who they choose. 

“This story is about the monarchy and what it does when you can’t choose who, or when or how you are going to be with someone – boy or girl.”

As of November 1st, the new season of “Young Royals” is available to stream on Netflix.

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