Javascript is not enabled.

Javascript must be enabled to use this site. Please enable Javascript in your browser and try again.

Skip to content
Content starts here
Leaving Website

You are now leaving and going to a website that is not operated by AARP. A different privacy policy and terms of service will apply.

The 7 Sexiest TV Dramas About Royals

Hold on to your bodice! From Catherine the Great to Henry VIII, these steamy series are a guilty pleasure fit for a king — or queen

spinner image Characters from various shows such as The Great, The White Queen and ​Queen Charlotte A Bridgerton Story
Photo Collage: AARP; (Source clockwise from top left: Everett Collection; Liam Daniel/Netflix; BBC; Christopher Raphael/Hulu; Starz)

This month, Julianne Moore, 63, returns to the world of prestige television with her new historical miniseries Mary & George (premiering April 5 on Starz). The Oscar winner gets deliciously devious as 17th-century English social climber Mary Villiers, who hatches a scheme to have her dashing adult son George (Nicholas Galitzine, Red, White & Royal Blue) seduce King James (Tony Curran, 54) and become his “favorite,” thus securing their family’s fortunes. The plan sets in motion a string of murder plots, double crosses, rivalries and lots and lots of sex. Best of all, it’s all based on real events.

​Of course, this isn’t the first time that TV creators have turned to the stories of royals for erotically charged dramas. There’s just something about all those deep, dark castles and power-mad nobles and plunging necklines that inspires bed-hopping and bodice-ripping. Need a royal watch juicier than the oh-so-staid episodes of The Crown? Here, seven romance-heavy dramas that chart the stories of royals from Louis XIV and Catherine the Great to a very unreal queen consort played by Elizabeth Hurley, 58.

spinner image Image Alt Attribute

AARP Membership— $12 for your first year when you sign up for Automatic Renewal

Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

Join Now

spinner image Nicholas Hoult sitting in a chair with Elle Fanning standing in front of him in The Great
Nicholas Hoult, left, and Elle Fanning in "The Great."
Christopher Raphael/Hulu

​​The Great (2020)

The royal scoop: Equal parts sexy and satirical, this Hulu dramedy follows the highs and lows of the relationship between Catherine the Great (Elle Fanning) and Peter III (Nicholas Hoult), as she begins her reign as Russia’s oft-rumored-about enlightened empress. The royal couple have blazing chemistry, but that doesn’t stop them from entering into a never-ending cycle of backstabbing and betrayals, attempted coups and murder plots. The series was created by Tony McNamara, 57, the two-time Oscar-nominated screenwriter of The Favourite and Poor Things, and he’s quite open about just how loosely he bases his scripts on reality: After all, the show’s title card often includes the subtitles An Occasionally True Story and An Almost Entirely Untrue Story. In other words, take everything with a grain of salt — or a shot of strong Russian vodka.

Watch it: The Great on Apple TV, Hulu, Prime Video

spinner image Corey Mylchreest touches India Amarteifio's face with his hand in a scene from Queen Charlotte A Bridgerton Story
Corey Mylchreest, left, and India Amarteifio in "Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story."
Liam Daniel/Netflix

Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story (2023)

The royal scoop: Shonda Rhimes, 54, pushed the steaminess envelope when she made the leap to Netflix with Bridgerton, about eight siblings entering London high society in the early 19th-century Regency era. A breakout character was Queen Charlotte (Golda Rosheuvel, 53), such a hit that she got her own prequel spin-off, which focused on the rise of Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz (played as a young woman by India Amarteifio) to the throne and her relationship to the strapping King George III (Corey Mylchreest). The six-episode limited series follows two timelines: one in 1761 as the royal couple is meet-cute-ing and a-courting, and one in 1817 that delves into their marriage and the king’s declining mental health. Among the other budding romances happening in and around the palace is one between the king’s and queen’s secretaries, Reynolds (Freddie Dennis) and Brimsley (Sam Clemmett).

Watch it: Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story on Netflix

spinner image Rachel Skarsten and Ben Geurens standing next to each in Reign
Rachel Skarsten, left, and Ben Geurens in "Reign."
Ben Mark Holzberg/The CW/Courtesy Everett Collection

Reign (2013)

The royal scoop: The CW is better known for its contemporary teen soaps, so it came as a surprise when the network green-lit this period drama, set in 16th-century France, about Mary, Queen of Scots (Adelaide Kane). The story follows her ascent to power in the French court, where she’s betrothed to Prince Francis II (Toby Regbo) — against the wishes of his mother, Catherine de’ Medici (Megan Follows, 56) — and she’s flanked by four ladies in waiting who are also on the hunt for noble husbands. The result is an ensemble soap that doesn’t shy away from a bit of campiness with plenty of high drama and vintage-heavy, period-inaccurate costumes. No wonder critics often compared it favorably to CW predecessor Gossip Girl.

Watch it: Reign on Apple TV, Prime Video

Shopping & Groceries


$20 off a Walmart+ annual membership

See more Shopping & Groceries offers >
spinner image Elizabeth Hurley and Vincent Regan in a scene from The Royals
Elizabeth Hurley, left, and Vincent Regan in "The Royals."
Helen Vidler/E! Network/Courtesy Everett Collection

The Royals (2015)

The royal scoop: Based on an untrue story and ripped from no headlines, the E! prime-time soap traces the raucous goings-on of an entirely fictional British royal family, starring Elizabeth Hurley, 58, as Queen Consort Helena and William Moseley and Alexandra Park as the twin prince and princess. The plot is appropriately salacious and the humor playfully tongue-in-cheek, with catfights, scheming, illegitimate heirs and loads of shirtlessness. Alessandra Stanley of The New York Times called it “a Dynasty about a real dynasty,” and guess who shows up as Helena’s mother, Grand Duchess Alexandra of Oxford: none other than Joan Collins, 90, Herself.

Watch it: The Royals on Apple TV, Prime Video

spinner image Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Joely Richardson looking at each other in a scene from The Tudors
Jonathan Rhys Meyers, left, and Joely Richardson in "The Tudors."
Everett Collection/Jonathan Hession/Showtime

The Tudors (2007)

The royal scoop: Few monarchs in British history have gotten as much pop culture treatment as Henry VIII, from classic films (A Man for All Seasons) to historical novels (Wolf Hall), Shakespeare plays (Henry VIII) to Broadway rock musicals (Six). Arguably the sexiest version of the bunch was this sudsy Showtime series, which featured a preternaturally attractive cast that included Natalie Dormer as Anne Boleyn, Henry Cavill as Charles Brandon, 1st Duke of Suffolk, and Golden Globe nominee Jonathan Rhys Meyers as Henry himself. (This isn’t the paunchy, gout-ridden Tudor you might know from paintings.) Of course, Henry had six wives, so there were plenty of different couplings to explore across the show’s four seasons. It’s fizzy fun: Just forget any facts you’ve ever heard about 16th-century bathing and hygiene practices…

Watch it: The Tudors on Apple TV, Hulu, Prime Video

spinner image membership-card-w-shadow-192x134


Get instant access to members-only products and hundreds of discounts, a free second membership, and a subscription to AARP the Magazine.

spinner image George Blagden and Alexia Giordano running around barefoot in an empty room in the TV series Versailles
George Blagden, left, and Alexia Giordano in "Versailles."

Versailles (2015)

The royal scoop: Many Versailles-set films focus on ill-fated Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, but this lavish Canal+ production — the most expensive TV show in French history — rewinds the clock to 1667 when a young Louis XIV (George Blagden) moves the French court out to his father’s former hunting lodge, expanding and renovating Versailles into the grand palace we know and love today. Throughout the three seasons, the Sun King finds himself embroiled in intrigues and love affairs, with an opening theme song by French electronic act M83 to set the tone. Be warned: Things can get pretty steamy. When the series first aired on BBC Two, the British tabloid media had a field day, dubbing it a “raunchy bonkbuster” (The Mirror), “telly’s raunchiest drama” (The Sun) and “the filthiest TV ever” (The Daily Mail).

Watch it: Versailles on Apple TV, Prime Video

spinner image Max Irons with his head touching Rebecca Ferguson's head in a scene from The White Queen
Max Irons and Rebecca Ferguson, right, in "The White Queen."
Laurence Cendrowicz/Starz/Everett Collection

The White Queen (2013)

The royal scoop: Based on the series of novels The Cousins’ War by Phillippa Gregory, this historical epic is set during the War of the Roses, three decades of civil wars during which the House of Lancaster and the House of York fought for control of the English crown. Rebecca Ferguson — a scene-stealer in Dune 1 and 2 — first gained international attention for her portrayal of Elizabeth Woodville, one of a trio of powerful women who pulled strings behind the scenes to get the men in their lives onto the throne. There were two different edits of the series: a tamer one for the BBC and a sexier one for American audiences on Starz.

Watch it: The White Queen on Apple TV, Hulu, Prime Video

Discover AARP Members Only Access

Join AARP to Continue

Already a Member?