Red, White & Royal Blue, the surprise bestseller adapted for the small screen by Amazon Prime, is a certified hit. The summer blockbuster pits Taylor Zakhar Perez, as America’s First Son, against Nicholas Galitzine, as Britain’s blondest prince, tracing their arc as they go from rivals to lovers. From the movie’s outset, the tension between the two star-crossed leads is palpable, but the catalyst that unites them first isn’t their chemistry or good ol’ pheromones: It’s a whiff of Le Labo Santal 33.
Early on in the movie, the duo find themselves tussling in a supply closet taking cover from what they think is gunfire. (Naturally, the source of the commotion turns out to be fireworks.) Galitzine looks over at Perez, leans in slightly, and says, without hesitation, “Santal 33”—complimenting Alex’s good taste in the process. And the rest is history. Prince Henry is won over, all because he picked up on a whiff of the New York’s perfumery’s most famous scent.
Even if you’ve never owned a bottle of Santal 33 yourself, you’ve probably picked up on its woodsy, spicy notes in a crowded elevator or ritzy hotel lobby. The scent is so ubiquitous it’s become a meme in its own right, garnering a cult reputation that places it alongside household names like Sauvage (as in Dior) and Bleu (as in Chanel)—a funny twist of fate considering it was launched in 2011 as a foil to other mass-market fragrances. Its ubiquity, however, isn’t its undoing; the scent really is that good. In this case, it’s good enough for both American royalty and its British counterpart, and remains exactly the type of cologne that would turn the head of an elite suitor like Prince Henry.
If you’re looking for a new signature fragrance, a full-size bottle costs well over $300—but a wee little half-ounce spritzer, as they might say across the pond, will run you less than an all-American Benjamin.