Once upon a time, right after WWII and before the word diversity was even considered, a black prince (and heir to the throne) married a common white woman that caused enough of a stir that it got him banished from his own country... by another country!


The name of the country was Bechuanaland and it was a protectorate of the imperialistic British Empire. Such was the case with England, even as it lost control of India in 1947 and was losing it's grip on its Jamaican colony. They still had their hands in quite a few countries to preserve their wealth and resources. In Africa, the Brits still held sway with South Africa though South Africa became an independent Republic in 1960 (after 20+ years as a British dominion).


But the key was that Britain was losing it's grip on its empire and most certainly needed recover its postwar money by raping the African territories of their minerals; specifically gold and diamonds. So it needed to keep South Africa happy, especially since the Afrikaners had instituted Apartheid.

The prince was Seretse Khama and the white woman he courted and married was Ruth Williams an average office worker whom he met, according to Amma Asante's latest film "A United Kingdom", on the dance floor at a London club whilst he was studying law.


Cast as Seretse is David Oyelowo and as Ruth is Rosamund Pike with the early part of the film being their best scenes. During that time he is pursuing her even though bigotry is no further away from her than her family, particularly her father who was a rabid segregationist.


But most of the film takes place back in Bechuanaland under the rule of Seretse's uncle Tshekedi (Vusi Kunene) who completely rejected the idea of his nephew, the heir to the throne, had the audacity to bring a whit woman from abroad and parade her around all the native black women. Yes, it was a hard pill to swallow and they way he made it sound was rather dubious.


Yet this is a story that departs from the prejudice and pass the acceptance by Seretse's sister Naledi (Terry Pheto) who quickly came around to accepting Ruth even after Seretse was banished from the country by the Brits. The narrative becomes a simple historic piece with a legal procedural built in describing how Seretse and his wife combated the Brits in the public court of opinion to attempt to return to his country.


While Oyelowo and Pike are good in their roles, the meaty portions of their roles are at the beginning when the meet then deteriorates to a mundane "stand by your man (the king)" narrative


"A United Kingdom" excels in reminding us how long civil rights battles have lingered and that the Brits aren't that far removed from being selfish scumbags themselves. It would have been nice had Amma Assante not glossed over the treachery of the British and softened the story.   -- GEOFF BURTON