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A United Kingdom (2016)

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The story of King Seretse Khama of Botswana and how his loving but controversial marriage to a British white woman, Ruth Williams, put his kingdom into political and diplomatic turmoil.



(screenplay), (based upon the book 'Colour Bar' by)
1,838 ( 78)
3 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sir Alistair Canning
Muriel Williams
Naledi Khama
Lady Lilly Canning
Vusi Kunene ...
George Williams
Dot Williams
Olivia Lancaster
Michael Nash
Ella Khama
Tony Benn


In the late 1940s, Prince Seretse Khama of Bechuanaland is studying law in Britain in preparation for his eventual ascension to the throne. There, the dashing prince falls in love with a white British clerk, Ruth Williams, and they plan to marry. While they suspect that his uncle, the Regent, would disapprove, nothing prepares them for the diplomatic firestorm and domestic political tumult their defiant love would spark. Now facing a citizenry leery of a white Briton as their Queen, the international opposition is even more unyielding from the British holding their land as a protectorate and fearful of South Africa's racist backlash to this affront to their apartheid domination. Against all odds, King Khama and Ruth must struggle to maintain their love and help their people in a land that would become the Republic of Botswana. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some language including racial epithets and a scene of sensuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |


Release Date:

10 February 2017 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Um Reino Unido  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$14,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$66,510 (USA) (10 February 2017)


$3,901,302 (USA) (19 May 2017)

Company Credits

Production Co:

, ,  »
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Technical Specs



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


Andrew Lloyd Webber had thought about doing a musical. See more »


In the scene when everyone is listening to the radio, Ruth is supposed to be pregnant. But she is wearing a dress, with her waist just showing by her elbow, that she wore in an earlier scene when she was not pregnant. See more »


Roberts: [to Seretse on seeing him with Ruth] Keep your hands off our property
Ruth Williams: [offended] I'M NOT YOUR PROPERTY
See more »


No Baby, No Nobody But You
Lyrics and Music by Seger Ellis
Performed by Stan Kenton and June Christy
Published by EMI United Partnership Ltd/EMI Music Publishing Ltd
Licensed Courtesy of Capitol Records Inc.
Under Licence from Universal Music Operations Ltd
See more »

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User Reviews

Inspired by history, just not great drama.
2 March 2017 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"No man is free who is not master of himself." Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo)

Freedom is what A United Kingdom is about: Freedom for Prince Khama to choose a white British wife in Botswana 1940's and freedom for the natives from British imperial rule. Both themes are fully disclosed with an eye to history that seems accurate and not overly detailed.

Where the details of the struggle to bring back the prince to rule as king, a move opposed by the British and its Winston Churchill, get unhistorical is in the slow pace of the plot and the sentimental scenes and music behind the prince's marriage to Ruth Williams (Rosemund Pike), a novice at romance and political intrigue.

The plot thread about their romance ("Did I tell you I didn't just marry you for your looks?"Seretse) is long and slow (The first part of the film is all about the wooing), and the challenge to his claim to the throne is repetitious bordering on boredom. Her emergence as the queen is threadbare with plot clichés, even as the story is "inspired by true events." Oyelowo and Pike are nearly perfect as the man who would be king and the lady in waiting. His turn last year in Selma as MLK was Oscar worthy, and her loving hesitancy works well set against the malign forces determined to separate the husband and wife.

The forces of inequality are strong as they wrap themselves in rhetoric about the safety of the country's traditions and their need for British rule to survive. On the Brit part, the lust for riches from the country's abundant mineral resources colors decisions about freedom that should in any other democratic society be self evident.

Besides the obviously hackneyed history of suppression and rebellion, the film slows its pace to allow speeches that could be slipped in as well in other films about Africa. Yet, this similarity in rhetoric may just help rank good biopics like this as accurate depictions of history and the human condition.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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