Set in the late 1940s, A United Kingdom is based on the true story of Prince Seretse Khama of Bechuanaland (David Oyelowo), who travels to London to study law. While there, he meets and falls in love with Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike), the daughter of a shoe salesman. This causes great upset on both sides. Ruth’s father vows to never see her again and Sereste’s uncle, the Prince Regent (Vusi Kanene), is greatly angered by what he sees as a betrayal of his people.
Ruth travels to Bechuanaland with Sereste and is met with a hostile reception. The people love Sereste, however, and want him to take his place as king. Bechuanaland is a British protectorate. To appease the South African government, which is introducing apartheid, the British government does everything in its power to prevent Sereste and Ruth becoming king and queen of Bechuanaland.
Sereste is exiled for several years but is eventually allowed back into his country on the condition that he won’t become king. The Bamangwato people eventually accept Ruth, who integrates well into their society. Sereste goes on to make Bechuanaland an independent democratic country called Botswana, of which he becomes the first president.
A United Kingdom has some violence. For example:
- Sereste enjoys boxing while in London. One scene shows a match in which the boxers use violent blows and head butts.
- Some thugs attack Ruth and Sereste. Ruth gets a blood nose, and Sereste is attacked. As a boxer, Sereste is able to fight back and make the thugs go away.
- When Sereste is exiled, fighting breaks out between UK soldiers and the local people.
Content that may disturb children
Apart from the violence described above, there is nothing particularly scary in A United Kingdom for this age group.
A United Kingdom has a scene showing Ruth during childbirth and in great pain. This might disturb children in this age group.
A United Kingdom has some scenes that could scare or disturb children in this age group. For example:
- Children in this age group might be scared by the scene showing Ruth in childbirth.
- The prejudice shown towards Sereste and Ruth could be disturbing, particularly Ruth’s father’s attitude. Sereste’s sister and aunt are also very unkind to Ruth when she first arrives in Bechuanaland.
Nothing of concern
A United Kingdom has characters who express an opinion that a relationship between a black man and a white woman is disgusting.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
A United Kingdom shows some use of substances. For example:
- People drink frequently at various events including at home, in clubs and so on.
- Ruth is offered a drink at an officer’s house but Sereste is told he isn’t allowed to drink alcohol. This is in his own country.
- Several characters smoke, and Ruth’s father smokes a pipe.
Nudity and sexual activity
A United Kingdom has some nudity and sexual activity. For example, Ruth and Sereste marry and are seen kissing, undressing each other and getting into bed together. They are seen naked from the shoulders up.
None of concern
A United Kingdom has some coarse language and racist name-calling and language.
Ideas to discuss with your children
A United Kingdom is a drama about a marriage between a black prince and a white woman in the years when apartheid was being introduced in South Africa. There are some beautiful scenes from Botswana, and it is an uplifting movie in which justice finally prevails.
Because of the movie’s themes and content, younger viewers are likely to lose interest. Its themes are more relevant to an older audience, so it is likely to appeal to teenagers and adults.
The main messages from this movie are that justice can prevail and that the colour of one’s skin should be of no importance.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include racial equality, determination, loyalty, love and faithfulness.
You could also talk with your children about the reactions of Ruth’s and Sereste’s families to their marriage.