Chapter Twelve 

Leaked footage of Henry visiting Alex at the hotel at the Democratic National Convention hits the media. The footage does not show anything intimate between Henry and Alex but could set off rumors and jeopardize their position. Alex, June, and Zahra go into triage mode, and June suggests that they stage a date between Henry and June. This will divert attention from Alex and suggest that it’s Henry and June who are in a relationship with each other. June posts a picture of Henry from the trip to the lake house, in which June is kissing Henry on the cheek. The press picks up the picture and runs with it, posting a flurry of speculative articles about the romance between June and Henry. Alex goes on a staged date with Nora to further the narrative that he and Henry are both heterosexual. Henry flies in for a staged date with June, and Alex rides in one of the SUVs so he’s nearby on the date, even though they aren’t allowed to see each other.  

After the date, June sneaks Henry into the SUV with Alex. Henry is dissociated after the date, on the verge of a panic attack, because it’s too painful to pretend to be in love with someone else. They kiss in the SUV, and Alex promises that someday, they’ll be able to truly be together. Alex goes to see Luna, furious at his betrayal. Alex comes out to Luna, and Luna tells him not to share that kind of information with him because he’s on the opposing campaign. Luna also advises him that if he wants a political career, he shouldn’t come out at all and should live his life in the closet. Photos of Henry and Alex kissing in the SUV and their entire romantic email correspondence is leaked to the press. They are outed to the entire world. 

Chapter Thirteen 

The press and the Internet explode with speculation and stories about Henry and Alex. Alex sits down with his mother, who makes sure he’s okay and helps him work out the logistics of being outed. Meanwhile, Henry and Alex are both on communication lockdown and can’t get ahold of each other. Alex’s family gathers around him and supports him. Alex and Zahra fly to London, and on the way, Zahra gets ahold of Henry through Shaan’s personal line and the two are finally able to talk. Zahra reveals she’s engaged to Shaan. Alex and Henry are reunited, and they hole up in Henry’s quarters in the palace with Bea. Bea and Alex have a heart to heart, and Bea explains to Alex how grief will always be a part of Henry and that he needs to understand that to love Henry.  

The next morning, Philip bursts into Henry’s room, angry, and accuses Henry of being a coward. Henry tells Philip he loves Alex and Philip mocks him. Alex tells Philip that Henry’s the bravest person he’s ever met. Alex meets Henry’s mom, Catherine, and she is warm to him. They all meet with Queen Mary, Henry’s grandmother, and the queen is cruel and homophobic toward Alex and Henry. Catherine argues that the crown should tell the truth about Henry and the queen argues that the world will never accept a gay monarch. Bea interrupts to show them that there’s worldwide support for the couple. They open the curtains and see that a crowd had gathered outside the palace to express support for Henry and Alex. Catherine threatens to go to parliament, and the queen backs down. On the way to the airport, Alex sees a giant, loving mural of him and Henry, depicted as Han and Leia from Star Wars. He tweets a photo of it, writing “Never tell me the odds.” 


This section explores how traumatic it is for Alex and Henry to have others control their public narratives. When Alex and Henry pretend to date Nora and June, it’s more difficult than ever before to pretend for the press. While both Alex and Henry have dated for publicity reasons, now that they are in love, they both find it excruciating to fake romantic feelings with other people. When they are outed, it is also deeply painful to have the public peering into their private lives. The excerpts from the media coverage and the online commenters create a claustrophobic picture of the speculation and frenzy that the news creates. What’s more, the people speculating about Alex and Henry’s private life don’t treat them like real people in the press and online. Instead, they treat the affair as a spectacle, and Alex reflects that he is most upset to have his private vulnerabilities in public where the whole world can know his heart. A sense of trauma and fear permeate both Alex and Henry after the leak, and the main comfort they find is in total privacy, away from the prying eyes of the pubic. 

This section explores navigation imagery to represent how love guides Alex and Henry through difficult, uncharted terrain. Alex’s last email before the leak has the subject line “bad metaphors about maps.” In it, Alex describes loving Henry in cartographic terms, saying that Henry is a world he is still charting. By describing his love this way, Alex gives the sense that he and Henry are setting out in uncharted territory. This illustrates both that love is an entire world that its inhabitants are constantly discovering and that their love specifically is world historic. No modern sons of world leaders have ever openly fallen in love. Later, when they see each other for the first time since the leak, Alex experiences Henry as a compass pointing north, which is evocative of an earlier letter when he called Henry his North Star. This establishes that Alex’s love for Henry guides him through the scary and painful post-leak days, and that he wants to that guidance him with him always. 

In this section, McQuiston also explores the establishment’s resistance to change. As the elder monarch of Britain, Queen Mary represents the traditions that have been upheld for centuries. Through the discussion with Queen Mary, McQuiston explores the fear inherent in the old guard and the inevitability of change. Queen Mary argues that Alex and Henry should lie, which is inherently an argument for things to stay the way they always have been. The monarchy has always hidden its less conventional predilections from the public, and LGBTQ+ royals have always been closeted. Her language is all about maintaining a status quo, from “perpetuating our bloodline” to maintaining monarchy’s appearance as the ideal of “British excellence.” Queen Mary cannot envision a world in which people of today won’t react as they always have, believing even in the face of the protest outside her window that the majority of the country only wants to stay with the old ways. But the crowds of support at the palace and worldwide tell a different story about the inevitability and hope of change.