The princess thing

coode_street writes about how his daughter has become enamored of princesses. An awful lot of girls seem to go through this stage, usually fairly young. I can remember being of an age to very badly want to be a princess, or a ballerina (they seemed much the same thing, then).

As an adult and a writer, I’m more skeptical. I’ve been known to say that the only way I’m going to have a hidden princess learn her true nature is when her enemies start shooting at her — because hidden princesses are hidden for a reason, after all, and it’s likely a better reason than because their parents want them to live normal lives. One day I’ll probably write that story.

In the couple of stories I have written with princesses in them (I’m working on a middle grade one now), my princesses don’t tend to be the heroes. They tend to be part of the problem — in much the way, come to think of it, that magic tends to be part of the problem in my stories, rather than only part of the solution. My princesses tend to be spoiled, sheltered, in need of learning better. Twice, too, I’ve had characters offered a chance, in very different ways, to become princesses — and they both turned the opportunity rather definitively down. In my universe, the princess thing just never works out, it seems.

I wonder what my four-year-old former self would think of that. What I think is that maybe the word itself, princess, meant something very different to her than it does to me.

For female readers: What did being a princess mean to you as a young girl, and what does it mean now?

For male readers: Did you all want to be princes? Or do young boys skip straight to king, or skip this whole faux-royalty business all together?

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