Creator of ‘Young Royals’ explains the finale and why it’s ‘beautiful for things to end’

This article contains spoilers for the series finale of Netflix’s “Young Royals.”

For three seasons on Netflix’s “Young Royals,” Prince Wilhelm (Edvin Ryding) has wrestled with a difficult question: Can he balance his duties as the heir to the Swedish throne with his love for his working-class schoolmate Simon Eriksson (Omar Rudberg)?

The answer, in the eyes of co-creator and head writer Lisa Ambjörn, was a resounding no.

The long-awaited finale of the hit Swedish teen drama series — which dropped Monday along with a behind-the-scenes documentary that chronicles the making of the final season — finds Wilhelm being forced to make a choice between love and duty. After Simon declares in the penultimate episode that he can no longer live under the stringent demands of the royal court, Wilhelm comes to a decision about his own future.

During a car ride from Hillerska, his recently closed boarding school, to the royal palace, Wilhelm tells his parents, Queen Kristina (Pernilla August) and Duke Ludvig (Magnus Roosmann), the queen’s consort, that he does not want to be king, clearing the path for his second cousin, August (Malte Gårdinger), to be the next sovereign. In the closing moments of the finale, Wilhelm reunites with Simon after chasing down his car, and they ride off together into the sunset with Simon’s sister, Sara (Frida Argento), and her best friend, Felice (Nikita Uggla).

A boy wearing an open white shirt rubs the corner of his face as a woman stands next to him.

Omar Rudberg, left, with Lisa Ambjörn on the set of “Young Royals.”

(Johan Paulin/Netflix/Courtesy of Netflix)

It’s the ending that made the most sense to Ambjörn, who knew that she wanted three seasons to capture a transformative year in the lives of these teens.

“For me, the ultimate conclusion is Wilhelm understanding his position, saying no to it, choosing freedom, and then having this moment with Simon,” Ambjörn says in a joint Zoom interview from Stockholm with Ryding and Rudberg. The ending “is open in the sense that they just go away, they drive off, they break free. I do think it is in some way considered to be very cool to end very tragically, but I think [ending a show with] hope is very brave and very daring.”

Wilhelm and Simon’s journey

Wilhelm’s abdication marks the culmination of a multiseason arc that began with the tragic death of his older brother, Crown Prince Erik (Ivar Forsling). After Wilhelm publicly confessed to being the other student in a leaked sex tape with Simon at the end of Season 2, former Hillerska students came forward with their own stories of mistreatment at the school. Wilhelm is particularly horrified to learn that Erik was involved in homophobic hazing rituals for August’s freshman class, and these painful revelations force Wilhelm to question whether Erik would have accepted his sexuality.

“Wilhelm has always viewed Erik as the hopeful part of the monarchy, a good person, dedicated to his work and still caring for the people around him,” Ryding says. “But now, when he knows what Erik did, I think he’s able to see things for what they really are — that the institution in which he’s been raised hurts people and limits them.”

From the outset, Ryding and Ambjörn have said that Wilhelm’s internal conflict is not that he is queer, but that he feels constrained by the title of crown prince. Once he realizes that his family’s obsession with keeping up appearances has had a detrimental effect on the health of himself and of his mother, Wilhelm reaches his breaking point in Episode 5, when he and Simon head to the royal palace to celebrate Wilhelm’s 17th birthday.

Following a painfully awkward dinner, Wilhelm finally confronts his parents about the lack of support he’s received from them since Erik’s passing.

“Wille’s journey, in some ways, has been leading up to that moment where he’s finally able to be honest with his parents and say what he’s been feeling all these years,” says Ryding, adding that he improvised the scene where Wilhelm knocks down his birthday presents in a fit of rage.


A boy in a shirt, sweater and blazer.


A woman in a blue suit looks out a window.

1. Wilhelm is finally able to explain his feelings to his parents. (Robert Eldrim/Netflix) 2. Queen Kristina (Pernilla August), Wilhelm’s mother. (Johan Paulin/Netflix)

Rudberg says that’s the moment Simon — who has spent most of the season grappling with just how much of himself he is willing to sacrifice to date Wilhelm — understands the pain and dysfunction of the royal family. Believing their relationship would only exacerbate their issues, Simon tells Wilhelm that he thinks they should break up.

While Ambjörn says she was “never 100% sure” that Wilhelm and Simon would end up together, she knew she “wanted Wilhelm to go through that journey of telling his mom how he’s feeling.” It wasn’t until late in the creative process, following numerous discussions with her collaborators, that Ambjörn decided Wilhelm and Simon would be each other’s endgame.

Eagle-eyed fans have long speculated over the symbolism of the broken frog snow globe that sits on the desk in Wilhelm’s dorm room. In the finale, Wilhelm throws it out, and the queen gives August a frog necklace for his graduation. For Ambjörn, the frog represents Wilhelm’s final arc. “The prince kisses a boy, and he doesn’t turn into a frog. He turns into a real boy, and he doesn’t have to deal with the monarchy or with the role that he was being born into,” she says.

‘You were a revolution to me’

After the success of “Simon’s Song,” a modern rendition of Hillerska’s traditional choir song that Simon wrote and performed in Season 2, Ambjörn and music supervisor Magnus Palmborg teamed up to write a tune for Season 3 that Simon would give Wilhelm for his birthday. “It was important to get Simon to excel and to do something to find his voice again after having been pushed down the whole season,” Ambjörn says.

The result, “Wille’s Song,” will likely be a hit with fans, but Ryding and Rudberg confess they hated the first draft. “I think Edvin made Omar hate it even more because Omar was like, ‘Should I really be doing this?’”

Ryding was worried that “Wille’s Song” wouldn’t be able to live up to “Simon’s Song,” which received an MTV Movie Award nomination in 2023. Rudberg — who is a former member of the Swedish boy band FO&O and now has a solo career — says he felt woefully underprepared when he shot the scenes where Simon is experimenting with an early version of the song. He wondered whether it was “too cringe” for Simon to write a love song.

Two boys hold hands as they lean against library bookshelves.

Wilhelm (Edvin Ryding), left, gets a special song from Simon (Omar Rudberg) in Season 3 of “Young Royals.”

(Robert Eldrim/Netflix)

Ambjörn reminded Rudberg that Simon is only 16 and not a professional songwriter, and they worked together to craft a version everyone felt comfortable with. “I wrote music when I was that age. I had a band, and we were playing really terrible teenage songs,” Ambjörn says. “But then when you hear them as an adult, you are like, ‘This is beautiful, because it’s so raw. It’s honest. You are singing exactly what you are thinking.’”

Simon is trying to say goodbye to Wilhelm with the song. “He’s saying, ‘I hope you get what you’re fighting for. I hope you can find peace. I hope you can be happy. I love you. You are amazing. You and our relationship were a revolution to me,’” says Ambjörn.

What love can look like

Heading into the final season, Ryding and Rudberg were both excited to explore new physical and emotional intimacy between Wilhelm and Simon, who no longer have to hide their relationship. They begin the season on the same page, sneaking away for time alone and finding comfort in each other. But once they return to school, Wilhelm “doesn’t want to hide [their relationship] anymore, to the point where he’s overdoing it,” Ryding says, “and Simon realizes people are looking, and it makes him insecure.”

The two characters are also having more adult conversations about how their upbringings have influenced their attitudes toward the monarchy, so the creative team felt it was important for intimate scenes between Wilhelm and Simon to be more mature as well.

“We wanted to crank up the level a little because we’ve seen straight couples and straight characters doing the lovey-lovey and doing the naughty=naughty,” Rudberg says, with Ryding and Ambjörn nodding and laughing in agreement. “We wanted to show what real homosexual love can be and how that can look like.”

Ryding, Rudberg and Ambjörn — who pushed back on the idea that young adults don’t want to see physical intimacy onscreen — credit director Jerry Carlsson for executing the vision for Wilhelm and Simon’s final love scene in Episode 3.

Carlsson insisted on using “Uti vär hage,” a traditional Swedish folk song meant to signify how the characters have blossomed in the spring, Ambjörn says.

“Everything that we could possibly want to say with this scene is in the lyrics of that song,” she says. “I think it’s important to be able to actually show them having sex, but in a very beautiful way.”

Ryding and Rudberg’s chemistry make Wilhelm and Simon’s final scenes together potent. At Hillerska’s final party, the lovers decide to spend one last night together — they stay up until sunrise, swim nude in the nearby lake, and tearfully reflect on their relationship.

Two boys floating in the water with their heads and part of their chests visible.

“They undress, they walk down into the water naked, and they are rebirthed,” says Ambjörn of Simon and Wilhelm in the series finale.

(Johan Paulin/Netflix)

“My body couldn’t really feel the difference between the real world and the acting,” Rudberg says, “because the scene that we were shooting was [supposedly] the end of their relationship, and that same day was the end of the whole shooting.”

Ambjörn describes the experience of filming that dreamy sequence, which is set to Swedish American singer Rhys’ “Alice,” as almost sacred. “It was like being in a church. I was like, ‘If I believe in something, this is my religion,’” Ambjörn says with a laugh. “They undress, they walk down into the water naked, and they are rebirthed.”

During the lake scene, there’s a closeup of Wilhelm’s face as he sits on land while Simon swims away from him. “When I saw that frame the first time, I was like, ‘That’s when he grows up. This is the grown-up Wilhelm,’” Ambjörn says. “In the [final] car scene when Simon steps out being like, ‘What is happening?’ that’s the Wilhelm that he sees. Simon goes, ‘Oh, something has shifted.’”

When Simon sees Wilhelm chasing his car, Rudberg says he’s thinking, “No! Please. I’ve been through it already. Let’s just not look back, and just keep going and forget this. But he still had this hope inside of him somewhere, so he just had to stop.”

“I think if Wilhelm would’ve [renounced the crown] for Simon, then it wouldn’t have worked. That’s not him growing up. But when he says, ‘No, I did it for me,’ that’s everything Simon needs to hear,” says Ryding. He adds that he thinks the characters’ sweeping, 360-degree kiss is “so corny,” but he still loves it to no end.

Ambjörn envisioned that the series finale would end with Wilhelm breaking the fourth wall — a creative choice used to bookend all three seasons — to show a shift in the character’s psyche. Although they had a few shots where Wilhelm and Simon both looked into the camera, Ambjörn says it felt only right to end with Wilhelm’s faint smile before cutting to black.

‘It’s beautiful for things to end’

Since its debut in July 2021, “Young Royals” has become a global hit. The first two seasons reached Netflix’s top-10 list in 12 and 26 countries, respectively, garnering the show a cult following on social media and transforming its young Swedish cast into internationally recognized actors.

Through it all, Ryding, Rudberg and Ambjörn — who have each been able to parlay their success into signing with American talent agencies — remain touched by the fact that LGBTQ+ viewers from different cultures and generations have forged relationships through watching the show.

“I hope the legacy of this show is that people felt seen by it, that we were able to tell an honest and transparent story about queer love and about being young and breaking free that actually resonated with people all around the world,” Ryding says. “I also hope that the impact that this show has had means something to the industry, that we’re able to tell more stories like this where we trust the audience and take risks.”

Although she would not go into specifics, Ambjörn says she has spoken with some actors, including Gärdigner, about where their characters would go in the future. Ryding and Rudberg, who confirm they are collaborating on another secret project, each has their own theories about what will happen to Wilhelm and Simon. But at the end of the day, they hope their characters will find lasting happiness.

As for a “Young Royals” spinoff or reunion special, Ambjörn says she can’t predict the future, but fans shouldn’t hold their breath.

“I want to let go completely now and focus on letting the fans take ownership again of ‘Young Royals,’” she says, likening the experience of ending the show to letting a child venture out into the world on their own. “For me, it’s beautiful for things to end.”