Edvin Ryding

Sunglasses, stylist's own

Edvin Ryding Takes the Next Step

There is something somewhat disconcerting about the sight of Edvin Ryding wearing a Hillerska sweatshirt and sporting a bleached buzz cut, as he did during an interview over Zoom last month. Hillerska, as the passionate fans of Young Royals know, is the fictional Swedish boarding school that Ryding's Prince Wilhelm has attended through three seasons of the hit Netflix series, which ended its run two weeks ago. Gone, however, were the floppy locks that have become a signature of the fictional Crown Prince of Sweden, whose tumultuous romance with Omar Rudberg's Simon forms the crux of the show. “I'm just at a point in my life where I'm pretty experimental,” Ryding says of his new haircut, which he is quick to note he convinced the director of a recent project to incorporate into his character. “In a way, it was in relation to Wilhelm but not in any negative way. I really feel like now that Young Royals is ending, it's probably the most important chapter in my career so far. I'm super excited to do more and I'm in a new chapter now.”

There is no mistake that Ryding finds himself at a turning point in his young life. After three years on a Swedish teen drama that quickly became a global sensation after its premiere in 2021, the 21-year-old is both savoring his final moments with a character that has shaped him personally and professionally and looking ahead to his next steps.

SHIRT by ,COS., PANTS by ,J.Lindeberg., TIE, stylist's own. BOOTS by ,Sendra.

SHIRT by COS. PANTS by J.Lindeberg. TIE, stylist's own. BOOTS by Sendra.

Although three seasons long, Young Royals takes place over the course of a single school year, starting with Wilhelm's transfer to Hillerska after he is caught on camera at a party head-butting someone during a fight. After the death of his brother in a car accident, he is elevated to Crown Prince and finds himself beginning a relationship with Simon, a day student from a working-class immigrant family. Much of the attention for the show has focused on its central same-sex relationship, but Wilhelm's struggles with his identity both in and out of the public eye encompass far more than his sexuality, which is handled pragmatically by the royal family and its support team. His on-and-off romance with Simon is plagued not by internal uncertainty but by the expectations that come with his position as next in line to the throne. Likewise, his classmates deal with their own versions of typical adolescent dramas as well, from drug addiction to jealousy and betrayal to overbearing parental expectations, all heightened by a rigidly hierarchical system that places strict boundaries on who they can be. “From the beginning, there's been one guideline for these characters and that is, the issue has never been the way that they are as people,” explains Ryding. “The issue has never been their sexuality or race or skin color, anything like that. That's never been the issue. The issue has been class and honor and traditions.”

T-SHIRT by ,Martine Rose

T-SHIRT by Martine Rose

Just as the first season ended with the cliffhanger of a leaked sex tape showing Wilhelm and Simon, this final season opens in the aftermath of the former's admission that it was in fact him in that video. (Ryding jokes that stretching one year into three seasons was appropriate because “what these characters go through during the course of this one school year, that's the equivalent of what a normal person goes through in three years.”) Newly hounded by reporters and the public, Simon falls prey to the anonymous cruelties of online commenters, a situation Wilhelm and Ryding, thanks to his own recent fame, are both familiar with. Last year, the actor issued a polite request online for an end to criticism of his appearance, a rare public acknowledgment of the toxic nature of so much digital conversation. “It goes both ways. In some ways, I can use some of my own experiences in the portrayal of this character in this story,” he explains. “But also, I've had so many moments where I'm trying to find my balance in the moment and then I realize like, 'Oh shit, this is what the characters go through, this is the story.' It's so meta I get kind of confused by it when it happens.”

All CLOTHING and SHOES by ,MM6 Maison Margiela

All CLOTHING and SHOES by MM6 Maison Margiela

For the show's many fans, the major question of this highly anticipated final season is whether Wilhelm and Simon end up together, and Ryding recognizes the intense expectations that have been building over the past few months and years. “That's a beautiful thing because they care so much for these characters,” he says. “We've succeeded in making these characters likable for them and someone they're rooting for.” Yet he recognizes the danger of letting the viewers influence his own understanding of Wilhelm. “Sometimes I ask myself, 'Am I at war with the audience about the character?'” he laughs.”They are defending him so well and I have all of these question marks regarding his behavior. It's very interesting, but I love it.”

JACKET by ,J.Lindeberg

JACKET by J.Lindeberg

Those audience expectations have come to embrace Ryding as well and he understands that, after leading a hit series, he is in a position that is both privileged and precarious as he decides his next moves. This self-awareness has been a hallmark of his career to date, after an early start as a child in a Swedish miniseries. “I think I was maybe nine or ten when I realized, 'Oh, wait, you could do this for a living,' that age when you realize what money is and what it's worth,” he recalls. “'This is work like when my dad or mom goes to their office—this is my office.' That's when I realized I never want to stop doing this and I just want to find new ways of doing this and trying to evolve.” When it came time to pick a specialization during high school, Ryding auditioned for the drama department and scored nineteen points out of twenty, but chose to study behavioral science instead, which he says has been crucial to his process of understanding character. “My guess was that it was going to be very useful in my work as an actor,” he says. “Because that's what I do, essentially: I portray the human mind and emotions and actions and triggers. What I learned during those three years in high school has been very, very useful in my work, especially when I'm reading a script and trying to understand a character, but also when I get an impulse, I understand where it comes from. It's just easier to work when I have that knowledge.”

Ryding already has a busy 2024 lined up, with a forthcoming Swedish film alongside the singer Zara Larsson and A Life's Worth, a series which will follow a group of soldiers working as peacekeepers during the Bosnian War in the nineties. Having become so closely defined by his role as Wilhelm, he is ready to push himself in new and promising directions. “I guess desperate is a good word, but I'm very hungry to do very different kinds of characters right now. I want to do characters that are very unexpected,” he says. “I just want to try to experience as much as possible while I still can because you never know when it's removed from you.”

JACKET and PANTS by ,Filippa K. ,TOP by ,Y/Project.,

JACKET and PANTS by Filippa K. TOP by Y/Project.

But even as he prepares himself for what's next, Ryding is still basking in the afterglow of a series that has been formative for him and, in his eyes, brought itself to a conclusion that he hopes will resonate with its audience. “Our head writer, Lisa Ambjörn, always said, 'If you know the ending to a story, you're going to write it better.' I think that it's been beneficial to us that we've always known that this is the last season because the way we've been able to tell this final chapter of their story is very beautiful,” he says. “We're dealing with really high stakes in this last season. There are huge powers in motion and he and Simon really are at a crossroads when it comes to, 'How do we move forward? Are we able to do this?' I think it's very beautiful and I'm very happy with the way we've told this story.”

Young Royals is now streaming on Netflix.

Edvin Ryding

TOP by Eytys

Edvin Ryding

TOP and SHOES by Eytys. PANTS by Filippa K.

GROOMING by Martin Sundqvist. PHOTOGRAPHER'S ASSISTANT Mehran Pakgohar. STYLIST'S ASSISTANT Anna Messeter.

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