Clare Miles’ debut novel Falling For The King sees its lovers torn between love and duty, so we asked Clare to give us her favourite movies with the same trope!
I adore the high stakes that are created when love and duty clash on the screen … and on the page. Watching, or reading, the anguish of impossible choices as the heart and the head battle it out will always keep me up well past my bedtime needing to know which will win.
What will the characters do as they hit against others’ expectations, and their own? How do they feel as their known world implodes? What steps do they take to fool themselves they are still in control? And how far are they willing to go to fight for that one person who changes their whole world?
In my new release Falling for the King, King Xavier of Maynet puts duty before everything else – it’s his moral code and driving force. Imagine then the battle that wages within him when he starts falling for his late brother’s widow, the one woman who can never be his.
Princess Katerina will never marry again after the disaster of her first marriage. Instead she’s devoting herself to the people of Maynet. Except the more time she spends with Xavier on the month-long royal tour, the more she realises her heart is in danger, because for the first time in her life she’s in love, really in love, and it completely terrifies her.
As they both battle the inner demons from their pasts and grapple with the never-ending expectations placed upon them, they come to understand their lives will never be the same and that they will need to make choice … what will win: love or duty?
Here are my top 5 favourite movies where the conflict between duty and love pushes the characters past every one of their safety nets and changes the way they’ll be forever – enjoy! (Please note: spoilers ahead):
Dear John (2010)
Channing Tatum as John Tyree, Amanda Seyfried as Savannah Lynn Curtis
John, a soldier (*swoon* Channing Tatum in uniform … in fact *swoon* Channing Tatum full stop), is on leave from active duty when he meets Savannah and boom … he’s in love. When he returns to his overseas posting they start swapping letters until he receives the ultimate Dear John letter from her – she’s marrying someone else.
Savannah loves John and telling him she’s marrying someone else is the hardest thing she’s ever done. What she doesn’t say is why … it’s to help a family friend and his son who desperately need her.
The movie ends with John and Savannah meeting up years later when she is widowed, and I know in my heart that soon after they must finally get their HEA.
Watch it on: Binge
The Prince and Me (2004)
Julia Stiles as Paige Morgan, Luke Mably as Crown Prince Edvard / King Edvard of Denmark (Eddie)
Fun-loving Crown Prince Edvard does everything he can to avoid his duty as heir to his country’s throne – even heading to college to chase girls. He quickly discovers that the one girl who catches his eye, Paige Morgan, a feisty, driven student, isn’t interested in any of his lines and won’t take any nonsense from him. That forces him to grow up and as a result he and Paige fall in love, making her understand there’s more to life than lessons and exams. She heads to Denmark to start a life as a princess but over time grapples with her new role, while Edvard steps into his more easily – her love has finally made him become the man he was meant to. Paige discovers she needs to be true to herself and that she still wants to be a doctor, and like any good hero Edvard supports her and will wait for her until she finishes her studies.
Watch it on: Netflix
The Bodyguard (1992)
Whitney Houston as Rachel Marron, Kevin Costner as Frank Farmer
Bodyguard Frank Farmer (what a no-nonsense name!) has a clear-cut duty: to keep his client, award-winning singer Rachel Marron, safe from the increasing threats to her life. That comes into jeopardy when he develops feelings for her that are far outside the strict professional code he lives by. Rachel finds Frank much too serious, but over time grows to respect him and his role, and finds herself attracted to the man beneath the tough (and, let’s face it, gorgeous) facade.
They go on a date because he can’t guarantee she’ll be safe with anyone else, and that dance scene … wow … it hits all the feels and is my favourite in the whole movie. Afterwards he pulls back because he knows he can’t protect her if they are romantically involved. She’s hurt and furious … even more so because she’s keen on him and that makes her vulnerable.
The story cumulates in him literally taking a bullet for her and, although ultimately they don’t stay together, Rachel singing ‘I Will Always Love You’ is a spine-tingling ending. I believe she will, and so will he.
Watch it on: Stan
Roman Holiday (1953)
Audrey Hepburn as Princess Ann, Gregory Peck as Joe Bradley
Roman Holiday is a classic for many good reasons, not least being that we get Audrey Hepburn, Gregory Peck and Rome at their absolute best. Combine a princess who’s snuck out of a whirlwind tour for a rare break with a journalist trying to make a name (and some money) for himself and you get characters and a story that are timeless. Although the connection between Princess Ann and Joe is palpable, she can’t turn her back on her duty forever and goes back to the tour after a magical day together. Joe abandons the idea of publishing the article that would give him a scoop, because he wouldn’t, couldn’t do that to the woman who has so quickly embedded herself in his heart. And while not a traditional happy ending, the experience changes both of them. The romantic in me sees them reconnecting very soon after the last scene and finding their HEA together.
Rent it on: Apple TV
Maid in Manhattan (2002)
Ralph Fiennes as Chris Marshall, Jennifer Lopez as Marisa Ventura
Marisa, a maid at a five-star hotel, is working towards a promotion, despite the pessimism of her mother. Chris, a candidate for the Senate, is following in the footsteps of his late father and carries the weight of family and the country’s expectations. To achieve his goal his remit is clear: attract no scandals and mix with the right kind of woman. But there is a scandal, a huge one, when Chris finds out the woman he’s fallen for is not a hotel guest but a maid. Although Marisa didn’t set out to deceive him, she didn’t reveal her true identity either. She’s sacked, her dreams of promotion in tatters, and Chris wants nothing more to do with her. Eventually they find their way back together and he becomes a senator and she a successful businesswoman running her own maid service. Go Marisa!
Watch it on: Paramount +
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Clare Miles
After years of inner-city Sydney living, Clare Miles moved to the stunning Illawarra Coast into a retro apartment that has enough original features to give her a new appreciation for the colour orange.
A life-long lover of history, cats and Elvis, it’s no surprise she has a degree in history, a rescue cat who’s definitely boss of the household, and an endless supply of memories from attending the Parkes Elvis Festival (numerous times). And she’d recommend all three!
Career-wise, from her very first job delivering papers with her brothers, through working at Macca’s with her bestie, to the countless jobs she held in the corporate world … she always dreamt of being a published author and is beyond thrilled that this dream has come true.
Don’t miss Falling For The King – out now!
When love and duty compete, which will win?
King Xavier of Maynet doesn’t believe in love: he’s had enough experience to know it can’t be trusted. But he does believe in duty and knows he’ll choose a wife as tradition dictates. However, when his late brother’s widow joins him on a month-long royal tour of Maynet he develops feelings for her deeper than anything he’s ever known or believed possible, and he finds himself spending more time thinking about her than any prospective bride.
Princess Katerina won’t ever risk her heart again after the humiliation of her marriage. Instead, she’s dedicating her life to the betterment of her beloved adopted country, Maynet. Yet she finds herself attracted to Xavier in a way that threatens all her careful plans, and the more time they spend together the stronger their connection gets.
As time runs out for Xavier to choose a wife, will he realise what he feels for Katerina is love and that she’s more important than any tradition? Can Katerina trust herself and her feelings for Xavier and demand what she truly deserves, someone who loves her?