I have always believed that the best kind of stories are the real life ones we have never heard of. Then upon discovering theses true accounts we are left with a sense of amazement and shock that we were so ignorant of their existence. Especially when they changed the world. The 2016 film A United Kingdom is based on the extraordinary interracial marriage of Prince Seretse Khama of Botswana, Africa and Ruth Williams of England. History and romance are weaved together in a beautiful, heartbreaking and ultimately happy ending testimony of black v white, Africa v England and family v family that is utterly unforgettable.
In 1947, London, young Seretse Khama seems to be an ordinary law student from South Africa. In complete truth, Seretse is heir to Bechuanaland and future hope to the Bamangwato tribe. Seretse and his younger sister, Naledi, were orphaned as children and raised by their uncle Tshekedi Khama who acts as regent of Bechuanaland until Seretse is ready to take his rightful place as king.
Seretse has a great deal of pride for his royal heritage and an overabundance of love for his close family and strong people. However, Bechuanaland is under English Colonialism and ranks as the third poorest country in the world. The English living in apartheid South Africa rule the country with no regard to the natives of the land, seeing them as subhuman and 'savages' in need of saving. Seretse faces smilar prejudices and racism while in England and believes that there can never be unity between the two polar opposite people groups.
All those doubts dissipate when he meets Ruth Williams, a shy, but intelligent young typist who sees the world as it can be if people look past the exterior. Seretse is immediately taken with Ruth and her with him. They soon begin a secret whirlwind romance which leads to Seretse asking for Ruth to marry him. While Ruth immediately accepts, her family does not accept the relationship giving them no choice but to disown their own daughter.
Matters only get worse when Seretse returns to his home to find his own family furious at his choice of bride which causes conflict between Seretse and his uncle, and division of the tribe. England doesn't waste time in trying to separate the young couple and soon Seretse is exiled from his country. Ruth must cope with a hostile tribe and a new baby on her own. Overtime she not only wins over her sister-in-law with her kindness and respect, but eventually the whole tribe who want her stay and fight to bring her husband home.
Seretse and Ruth are finally reunited together, but changes must be made to secure their union is accepted by all. Seretse ends his kingship and declares the Bechuanaland is no longer a monarchy, but a free republic with the will to become a modern country to be ruled by a modern people. Seretse becomes the first president and together he and Ruth transform the once poor and destitute Bechuanaland into the Republic of Botswana.
Botswana is now a thriving country with a rapidly growing economy and has one of the highest standards of living in South Africa. Seretse's and Ruth's marriage changed their country and shook the world, but it was not without sacrifice and suffering. I found Ruth's name to be interesting as her own story is quite similar to that of Ruth in the Bible and her famous words, "Where you go I will go." A true testament of God's neverending truth in the lives of his people.
A United Kingdom is a wonderful film that opens your eyes to a history you may not have known of before, but leaves you thankful that it happened. Sereste's and Ruth's love story went beyond their own love for each other and flowed into the hearts of both Africans and the British. They found the strength to challenge the powerful, the hope to unite a proud tribe and the courage to end prejudice and hate.