The kingdom in question is Botswana – or rather Bechuanaland, as it was known in the post-war years when its crown prince Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo, Selma) went to London to study, and fell in love with a white commoner Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike). Their subsequent marriage scandalized not just the tabloid-buying public but the British civil service, the tribespeople of Bechuanaland and the government of neighbouring South Africa, whose new apartheid laws enshrined separation of the races.
A United Kingdom’s strongest sequences see Seretse exiled back to the U.K., as the post-war Labour government endeavours to take back control of a wayward protectorate and pacify the South Africans. The corrupt machinations of colonial rule are on display here, as Khama’s authority is betrayed time and again by a series of smarmy, upper-crust movers and shakers. Seretse exudes quiet dignity but he can belt out a rousing speech when he has to, and Ruth goes from shrinking violet to jeep-driving, baby-swaddling, authority-baiting queen of the veldt.
Belle director Amma Asante’s tribute to this unlikely couple is a story of forbidden romance and political intrigue which is never less than entertaining, and at times genuinely moving.
– Tom Huddleston, Time Out