In light of the past few Disney films the world must be a tough place to grow up in as a future monarch. Princes have, of late, been given a bad rep. In early Disney films they were heroes. Heroes without names and limited screen time and/or personality (‘let me bump into you early on, eponymous heroine and then I’ll show up again in the penultimate scene to save you.’ See Snow White/Sleeping Beauty). But handsome and dashing all the same.
But then things changed. The princes became fallible (The Lion King) and feckless (The Frog Prince). Girls instead had their heads turned by good-looking rogues with a kind heart (Aladdin and later on Rapunzel). Princes were stupid with non-princely names (see The Little Mermaid. Prince Eric? Really? I think it was better when you guys were nameless). Loving a prince increasingly became bad news. Although, without exception, love conquered all flaws and they all lived happily ever after.
Attractive as hell, but lazy and greedy, with an eye for the ladies.
And then came Frozen.
(Spoiler alert: if you’ve lived in a cave/religious cult for the past year and have avoided all talk/internet discussion of Frozen, but would like to see the film wish fresh eyes, stop here. Get the DVD. Watch it. Come back here.)
Oh, how they used the handsome prince rule book in that film…and then smashed us round the head with it!
Handsome, dashing, charming, dutiful. *Sigh*
And then, that moment…his hand on Anna’s chin, leaning in for the kiss that will save her life, true love’s kiss…
‘Oh, Anna, if only there was someone out there who loved you.’
I swear I heard the illusions of a hundred little girls shatter in that instant. There was audible gasping. (And may I remind you, we don’t do public displays of emotion in British cinemas. So that was new.) My chin had bruising from where my jaw hit the floor.
Princes weren’t the object of the fantasy any more. Who’d want to marry a prince? Even in real life, marrying a prince doesn’t guarantee you life in a castle as a princess. Kate Middleton had the Disney hair to lure the prince, but ended up as a Duchess living in a house in Norfolk with her future-king husband flying helicopters along the coast, for heavens sake. That was never part of the ever after as we dreamed it.
Anmer is lovely and all, but it isn’t this:
Now, that’s the least we expect from our fairytales.
And then, just to kill the dream for definite, there was Maleficent (fairy falls for prince, but he betrays her and cuts her wings off; fairy goes boo-loo!) and Into the Woods. Nobody got their happy ever after there.
‘I was raised to be charming, not sincere.’
And I thought, poor Prince George. He’s a prince whose going to have to grow up in a world of girls who’ve had the veil lifted from their eyes. They’re going to be indoctrinated to believe that a prince should never be trusted. They’ll assume that he’ll be a self-serving narcissist destined to break their hearts. Sure, he’ll still have a title, expensive education, money, good looks and international fame on his side (don’t feel too sorry for him)…but somewhere deep in the psyche of his female peers will be a sense of distrust (if it’s true that all it takes is a bunch of Disney films to have us believe in the fairytale, that is…but after all the internet inches written about how little girls are ruined by believing in the fairytale romance then it must be true, right?).
But, thank heavens, Cinderella has come along to save the poor little prince.
And I was worried there for a while, because the dolls Disney have produced just look so stern. Stern was never part of the fairytale. Not when it came to the ever after couple at least.
That’s the same look I give Teflon Man on a regular basis, and it ain’t one of happily ever after.
After the royal wake-up call we can fall back to sleep into this sumptuous dream, where all is as it should be. A dashing, handsome prince once more, with morals and principles and a massive fucking palace of his own. A prince willing to sweep the right fair maiden off her feet once she’s swept him off his.
Boo sat motionless throughout the entire film. Literally nothing from her.
‘What did you think?’ I asked her at the end.
‘I loved it,’ she swooned. And then she spent the evening making a carriage out of a cardboard box and twirling round the living room.
So, Prince George, your future is saved. Little girls believe in fairytale romance once more.
‘Does that mean the pretty girls will like me again now, Daddy?’
Although if you’re going to grow up in my neck of the woods I’m thinking it might be prudent to invest in riding lessons for Boo. You never know, after all.