60 pages 2 hours read

Katharine Mcgee

American Royals

Fiction | Novel | YA | Published in 2019

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Summary and Study Guide


American Royals is a 2020 young adult novel written by American author Katharine McGee and the first novel in the series of the same name. Pitched as a must-read for fans of Netflix’s The Crown and Kevin Kwan’s Crazy Rich Asians, American Royals is a blend of contemporary realistic fiction, romance, and alternate history. The novel tells the story of the Washingtons: America’s royal family descended from the country’s first king, General George Washington, who led the American colonists to victory against the British during the American Revolution. The story is told in a third-person limited point of view with four main narrative voices: Princess Beatrice, the heir to the Washington throne; Princess Samantha, her younger sister; Nina, a commoner who grew up with the Washingtons; and Daphne, a social climber. Through the different perspectives of the four young women, McGee explores topics of power, politics, love, jealousy, heartache, duty, secrecy, and growing up in the spotlight. The version used for this guide is the ebook of the Random House Children’s Books imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Plot Summary

In an alternate version of American history, General George Washington became the first King of America, not president. King George I was the first in a long line of Washington kings to rule over America, and in the modern day, George’s descendants still serve as a symbol of hope and unity for the American people. After over 200 years of kings, Princess Beatrice—the oldest Washington daughter—is poised to become the first Queen of America.

One day, the king and queen sit their daughter down and tell her it’s time to consider choosing a husband. However, Beatrice’s options are limited: She can only marry someone of noble blood, and in the American royal court, few eligible young men would be “appropriate” for Beatrice. Nonetheless, Beatrice reluctantly agrees to meet with her potential suitors at the Queen’s Ball, and she ends up meeting and befriending Lord Teddy Eaton of Boston. Although Beatrice doesn’t feel any romantic spark with Teddy, she decides that he is likable enough for her to consider a relationship with him, and the two begin a very public courtship. However, Beatrice is secretly in love with her Revere Guard Connor, and they start to see one another behind closed doors and in stolen moments. Beatrice knows that as the heir apparent, she cannot marry a commoner without giving up her place in the line of succession, and she begins to feel conflicted about her role as the future Queen of America. When King George tells Beatrice he is dying and has less than a year to live, Beatrice’s sense of duty wins out. She makes the painful decision to get engaged to Teddy, which destroys Connor and drives him away.

Meanwhile, Beatrice’s younger sister Sam and her twin brother Jefferson return from a six-month post-graduation adventure around the world. Unbeknownst to Beatrice, Sam has her own romantic encounter with Teddy on the night of the Queen’s Ball. The two kiss in the coat closet before Teddy realizes he is a potential suitor for Beatrice. Although sparks fly between Sam and Teddy, Teddy chooses to begin a relationship with Beatrice instead of Sam. Sam is angry and hurt. Throughout the novel, she struggles to forget her night with Teddy and how he made her feel.

Meanwhile, Sam’s best friend, Nina—who made out with Jefferson at his graduation party six months prior—begins a secret relationship with the prince. Jeff wants to take their relationship public, but Nina worries about the backlash she will receive as a commoner dating someone in the royal family. Additionally, Nina begins to question her friendship with the Washingtons: Nina might have access to the world of the royals, but she will never fit in among the privilege and wealth of the American nobility.

At the same time, Daphne Deighton, Jefferson’s ex-girlfriend, is on a mission to win him back. After years of scheming and conniving to date the prince and eventually marry him, Daphne’s obsession with winning a crown drives her to do the unthinkable. Six months prior, Daphne cheated on Jefferson and got caught by her best friend, Himari. When Himari threatened to tell Jeff, Daphne drugged her at a party, which caused Himari to have an accident. Himari has been in a coma for six months at the beginning of the novel, and Daphne is haunted by the guilt of what she did to her best friend. Still, Daphne has come too far to give up in her pursuit of Jefferson. She attacks Nina by outing her relationship with Jefferson to the press, igniting a firestorm of outrage, and cornering Nina in a bathroom to intimidate her. When Nina tries to tell Jeff, he defends Daphne, and Nina breaks up with him.

On the night of Teddy and Beatrice’s engagement party, Connor unexpectedly returns and vows his love for Beatrice. Beatrice realizes that she can’t go through with marrying Teddy, and she tells the king that she wants to call off the engagement and marry a commoner. The threat to walk away from her titles causes an argument between Beatrice and her father, and the king collapses. In the final chapters, King George is in the hospital, and Beatrice is overwhelmed with shame and believes she is responsible for his condition. Sam and Beatrice put aside their differences to support one another, and Daphne uses the emergency to swoop in and comfort Jefferson. The novel reaches its dramatic conclusion when King George dies, and Beatrice becomes the Queen of America amid shock and tragedy sweeping across the nation. She realizes that she can’t be with Connor now and must fulfill her duty to the Crown and marry Teddy after all.