->''"You mean, the guy who collapsed on the side of the road and mooched food off of us was the son of the emperor?"''
-->-- '''Edward Elric''', ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist''

A special case of ChekhovsGunman. The heroes and/or villains run into a seemingly unimportant person, usually a beggar or common criminal. Later we discover this person is actually someone of great fame and importance (a king/powerful wizard, etc), and that he/she had disguised him/herself to walk among the general populace unnoticed.

This may be a RagsToRoyalty situation, if the king must stay hidden for his own safety. However, it is never a case of a SecretLegacy; the king always knows that he is the king, and is generally plotting for when the RightfulKingReturns, or has been using a DecoyLeader to rule. If the central character is the King Incognito, then this is IAmWho.

Frequently serves as a DeusExMachina, or can lead to a RightInFrontOfMe moment. KneelBeforeFrodo often results. GodWasMyCopilot and AngelUnaware are the supernatural versions of this trope.

Very common for RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething. If this character isn't that good at passing for common, he may be RichInDollarsPoorInSense.

Compare BodyDouble, ModestRoyalty, SecretlyWealthy. Compare also HiddenBackupPrince, who is likewise hidden, but often without knowledge of their SecretLegacy. Contrast with ErmineCapeEffect and MockMillionaire. SubTrope of SecretIdentity.
----
!!Examples:

[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* In ''Anime/YuGiOhGX'', Chazz runs into a scruffy-looking guy outside North Academy who tells him about the requirements to get in. When he finally does get in and beats every student in the school, the scruffy guy reappears and reveals that he's actually the one who runs the academy.
** In season 2, Jaden beats Aster Phoenix, supposedly the best duelist in the world. [[AchievementsInIgnorance He doesn't learn Aster's name until Syrus tells him]].
*** However, at this point Aster is using a random deck he almost made up on the spot. CurbStompBattle ensues during their rematch, when he uses his real deck.
* In ''LightNovel/ChromeShelledRegios'', queen Alsheyra Almonise pretends to be a normal, lazy professor all the time, leaving Kanaris in charge of most of the things in the palace.
* ''Anime/MaiOtome'' plays a double case of this with Mashiro and Takumi both sneaking out be among the general population and unknowingly meeting up with each other while their bodyguards try to keep up the {{Masquerade}}.
** The prequel ''Sifr'' features a male example.
* Crusnik #3/The Methusela Empress/Seth in ''TrinityBlood''; She poses as a human tea vendor around her city using an Amidala/Padme decoy system (though the decoy [[ReallySevenHundredYearsOld looks]] [[ReallySevenHundredYearsOld much older]]).
* The Principal in ''Manga/GreatTeacherOnizuka'' learns of Onizuka's [[JerkWithAHeartOfGold true nature]] this way.
* In ''TheTwelveKingdoms'', Shoryuu the Emperor of En does this a lot. He claims that listening to gossip in ''brothels'' is a good way to find out what's really going on. It seems to work.
** Also, the recently crowned Yoko goes on a sabbatical like this early on to familiarize herself with her empire. She ends up joining a revolt against her own government (which had become choked with corruption before her ascension).
* Hotohori in ''FushigiYugi'' is always doing this. And has, on occasion, intentionally combined it with DudeLooksLikeALady.
** Also, [[spoiler: his half-brother Tendou, who ''would'' have been the successor to the throne if not for a) his parents fearing for his safety and sending him away and b) Hotohori's overbearing mother pushing ''him'' onto the throne instead) lives as a peasant and even shared a relationship with the woman who later became Hotohori's wife.]]
* Used absurdly straight in ''{{Moetan}}'', where the BadassLongcoat Dandy is revealed to be the King of the vaguely defined Magical Kingdom all along. Ridiculously {{shounen}} battles ensue.
* In ''RoseOfVersailles'', Queen MarieAntoinette tries to go to a party incognito (just not revealing she's the queen, since she's still clearly a noble in a PimpedOutDress), but her bodyguard Oscar just has to challenge the guy chatting her up. And so began another one of the series' sources of drama.
* Lelouch, of ''CodeGeass''. Slight subversion in that he's only a prince, and not even close to being the crown prince. (He's 17th in line for the throne, at least he is at the beginning of the series.)
** It runs in the family. At the series' beginning, he lives with his sister, a princess. As well, Euphie meets Suzaku whilst pretending to be a commoner so she can see the settlement.
* Happens frequently in ''TheFiveStarStories''. It's a favorite activity of Emperor Amaterasu, but then, disguising yourself is the easiest thing in the world to do when you're a literal [[PhysicalGod divine emperor]].
* Shi Ryuuki from ''SaiunkokuMonogatari'' does this a lot. Not that he always succeeds; Shuurei saw through his disguise immediately when they first met (he was using the name of someone she had met not ten minutes ago, among other things). He does manage to pull it off at other times, though - at least once so well that when he reveals his identity, his subjects don't initially ''believe'' him.
* Ling Yao and May Chang in ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'', although in May's case, being the emperor's daughter doesn't really get her all that much. Ling on the other hand is such a dork that when the other characters find out who he is, they picture him in pantaloons with a white horse and a shiny crown and almost injure themselves laughing. It's mostly ObfuscatingStupidity, even if the falling-over-and-demanding-food thing is later Ling's SomethingOnlyTheyWouldSay in a plot-relevant way.
* The fifth episode of the second season of ''StrikeWitches'' is essentially an extended ShoutOut to ''Film/RomanHoliday''.
* In the [[Manga/TheLegendOfZelda manga adaptation]] of''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime'', Link, during his trip to Hyrule Castle Town, meets a little girl and plays with her all day (including going on a semi-disasterous [[StuffBlowingUp Bombchu Bowling]] excursion). She's actually Princess Zelda, of course, temporarily run away from the castle to have some fun.
* In ''Literature/TheHeroicLegendOfArslan'' {{anime}}, Arislan is hoping to get some information out of some prisoners his forces recently captured, so he disguises himself as a servant and arranges things so that he gets assigned to deliver food to each of the prisoners he's most interested in. Estelle/Etoile confides in the "servant" that she has heard that Arislan is evil. He responds by feeling the top of his head. When she asks him why, he replies that he's checking to see if he has horns, giving away his identity.
* Queen Dianna in ''Anime/TurnAGundam'' is incognito amongst the Earthrace for most of the story, due to a practical joke she played getting more than a bit out of hand (she switched places with an IdenticalStranger and they were separated before she has a chance to switch back). The leaders of the Earthrace do become aware of her situation, as does her personal bodyguard back with the Moonrace, but the general public on both sides has no idea.
* Doll, the childish girl who joins the Odd Squad early in ''HalfPrince'', turns out to be a real life princess outside of the game world
* Ferio in the manga version of ''Manga/MagicKnightRayearth''. He's Princess Emeraude's younger brother in both anime and manga but the anime version doesn't count because his memory of being royalty was erased there.
* ''Anime/{{Pokemon}}'' uses this a lot with Gym Leaders. The first being Misty who Ash met at the beginning of his journey and has been traveling with him ever since where all that time he didn't realize she was the third gym leader. [[spoiler:Clemont in particular went 8 episodes as part of the main ''XY'' cast without either him or his sister Bonnie slipping that he's the Lumiose City Gym Leader.]]
* Shogun Iemitsu occasionally sneaked out of the castle in ''Manga/{{Ooku}}: The Inner Chambers'', dressed in woman's kimono with only one bodyguard. As this happened before the fact that [[SheIsTheKing the Shogun is a woman]] became public knowledge, this was a very effective disguise.
* In ''Manga/TokyoGhoul'', the leader of Aogiri Tree is a mysterious figure known as the One-Eyed King. During the finale, the King is revealed to have been there the entire time disguised as [[spoiler: the child-like Eto]], a seemingly lower-ranked member of the organization. They even make several appearances in ''another'' identity, [[spoiler: novelist Sen Takatsuki]], allowing them to manipulate the protagonists without anyone being the wiser.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In the ''WorldOfWarcraft'' comic, Lo'Gosh, an amnesiac human with uncanny fighting skills who was forced into being an [[OurOrcsAreDifferent Orc]] [[GladiatorGames gladiator]], turns out to be [[spoiler: Varian Wrynn, the kidnapped and subsequently shipwrecked king of [[TheKingdom Stormwind]]]].
* In one issue of ''ComicBook/TheSandman'', Augustus Caesar disguises himself as a beggar to make plans that will not be overheard by the gods.
* For a few issues [[IronMan Tony Stark]] decided he didn't want to be Iron Man any more so he gave away his fortune and went to Silicon Valley under the alias of ''Hogan Potts''. He worked as a normal grunt at a company. [[spoiler: He really didn't last that long.]]
* The ''Comicbook/XWingSeries'' arc ''Warrior Princess'' starts with the news that one of the Rogues is actually the lost heir of Eiattu IV, most of the rest of her family having been murdered in a revolution. Who is it? [[BoisterousBruiser Plourr Illo]], the butch, tempestuous mechanic-turned-pilot and last person in the galaxy any of the characters expected. She's a take on Anastasia and initially disguised herself to escape, then made herself into what she wanted to be, far from the self-serving decadence of the court, but is convinced to return and take her rightful place as the empress-apparent.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In the ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' fanfic "[[http://www.fimfiction.net/story/20685 Sunny Skies All Day Long]]", Princess Celestia tires of everypony constantly kowtowing to her out of fear and respect. At her sister Luna's suggestion, Celestia spends a day in Ponyville disguised as an ordinary pegasus named Sunny Skies.
* The VideoGame/{{Myst}} fanfic "[[http://www.mystcommunity.com/board/index.php?/topic/22798-may-myst-writings-challenge/page__p__324056#entry324056 Midnight in Shamathen]]" takes the KingIncognito rumors about Lemashal (noted in the Video Games section below) and covers a pair of con artists--one masquerades as Lemashal masquerading as a beggar and the other is an off-duty royal guard pretending to be on guard duty. [[spoiler:A merchant gives two generous coins. Four days later, it turns out that King Lemashal sometimes masquerades as a commoner further up the ladder--he tries to scout out the lives of commoners of every level, not just the poorest of the poor--and was the "merchant" in question]].
* In [[Fanfic/WeightlessMassEffect Weightless]], [[Franchise/MassEffect Aria]] spent almost all of her POV's chapter explaining why she does this.
* In ''Webcomic/GirlGenius'' {{fanfic}} [[http://archiveofourown.org/works/739801/chapters/1377264 The Birthday Present]] Gil, Tarvek and Agatha try to visit Paris without altering anyone to their true identity. They even book hotel and buy opera tickets under false names. Too bad they don’t make any actual effort to disguise themselves, so they get recognized almost immediately after their arrival and become a headline news next morning.
* The ''Disney/{{Frozen}}'' fanfic ''Fanfic/FrozenWight'' has an early scene where Anna and Elsa, respectively princess and queen of Arendelle, do this while entering a tavern to see what some of the citizens of Arendelle think of being ruled by an ice queen like Elsa. It works until Elsa inadvertently tries to drink hot chocolate and finds it too hot, causing her to spill and freeze her drink.
* In the ''{{Ben 10}}'' FanFic [[https://www.fanfiction.net/s/3875254/1/Hero-High-Earth-style Hero High: Earth Style]] [[spoiler: it is revealed that Gwen's boyfriend is actually the CEO of Sphinx Corp and the BigBad in the worse possible way]].
* In ''[[FanFic/DumbledoresArmyAndTheYearOfDarkness A Peecatis]]'', Justin Finch-Fletchley brings "a friend from the RAF" to the Leaky Cauldron to meet Neville and Hannah. The "friend" turns out to be [[spoiler:Prince William]].
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film - Animated]]
* In Disney's ''Disney/{{Aladdin}}'':
** Princess Jasmine is running away from the palace when she first meets Aladdin, who thus doesn't learn that she's the princess until the royal guard tries to arrest him for kidnapping her. Many a RebelliousPrincess first encounters the plucky young hero this way.
** When Jasmine puts two and two together and confirms that the "Prince Ali Ababwa" who's courting her is in fact the street-rat Aladdin she'd met beforehand, he explains it away as a case of this trope, claiming that he really is a prince but was pretending to be a poor man to escape the pressures and restrictions of royal life.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Film - Live Action]]
* Queen Padme Amidala of ''Film/StarWars'' frequently disguises herself as one of her own handmaidens. (OK, in this case it's just so that the assassins will shoot the wrong woman, which proves to be entirely justified.)
** For the majority of ''Film/ThePhantomMenace'', Padme is posing as one of her handmaidens while the visible Amidala is actually a decoy played by NataliePortman-look alike Creator/KeiraKnightley. This allows "Amidala" to send "her handmaiden" Padme with Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan to keep tabs on them, with no one the wiser until later on.
** In ''Film/AttackOfTheClones'', the assassin who targets Padme at the beginning of the movie manages to kill off her decoy instead.
* In Kurosawa's ''Film/TheHiddenFortress'' (which later went on to influence ''StarWars''), a princess and a general of a defeated kingdom disguise themselves as peasants in an attempt to smuggle themselves and their kingdom's treasury to safety.
** One of the princess's servants also dies in her place earlier in the movie (off camera). Look familiar?
* In ''Film/AKnightsTale'', William faces a certain "Sir Thomas Colville" in a jousting match in which the latter is injured. Later, he learns that Colville is actually Prince Edward, crown prince of England, and that EverybodyKnewAlready except William. In the next tournament, William and his rival Count Adhemar are again matched against "Colville", but Adhemar bows out of the joust, not willing to take the risk of injuring a royal, while William continues the match.
* In ''Film/{{Dogma}}'', God herself takes a human form in order to visit the Jersey Shore and play skeeball.
* The twist at the end of the SherlockHolmes movie ''Pursuit To Algiers'' is that Holmes has disguised the about-to-be-crowned-king prince as a ship's deckhand and a cop as the prince to throw the prince's enemies off the trail. [[WeWouldHaveToldYouBut He doesn't tell Watson]] because he fears that Watson would give it away by treating the "deckhand" with the sort of respect he would normally show royalty.
* Subverted in Alexander Korda's ''Film/TheThiefOfBagdad'', in which the [[EvilChancellor vizier]] convinces the king to walk among his people dressed as a commoner--and then takes over the kingdom in his absence. He's gone for ''a day''. Easiest. Usurpation. Ever.
* In ''Film/FromHell'', [[spoiler:Albert Sickert]] is Prince Albert Victor Edward, the grandson of Queen Victoria.
* In ''Film/RomanHoliday'', Creator/AudreyHepburn plays a princess who escapes her bodyguards and handlers to have fun touring Rome with a journalist played by GregoryPeck.
* ''Film/AKidInKingArthursCourt'' had King Arthur posing as a peasant to save his daughter.
* Becomes a major part of the plot of ''Film/TheAdventuresOfRobinHood''.
* Prince Akeem in ''Film/ComingToAmerica''. Unsatisfied with [[ExtremeDoormat how passive]] his [[ArrangedMarriage bride-to-be]] is, Akeem and his friend Semmi travel to New York, where they pose as working-class African college students, so that he can find a woman who will love him for who he is, rather than what he is. His cover is almost blown at a basketball game, when an immigrant from his home country passes him in the hallway and instantly recognizes him.
* The female protagonist in the Russian comedy ''Man with a Warranty'' (or ''Man with a Guarantee'') has a wealthy businesswoman make a bet with her long-time rival that she can meet and marry (it's still not uncommon in Russia to have a FourthDateMarriage) a "normal" man in one of her shopping malls in 5 days while pretending to be a new employee with no residency. While she starts off as a terrible employee, she quickly gets the hang of it. The "normal" man she picks is a security guard who literally lives at the mall and absolutely loves everything about his job. Her cover is nearly blown by a friend (the wife of her rival) who sees her working at a lingerie store. The protagonist claims that she's merely undercover to find out how her business works firsthand. Naturally, her rival crashes the wedding and reveals the truth to the security guard. The guard is angry at her for lying but, of course, ends up forgiving her when she tells him that she doesn't need all her millions (which she will lose to her rival) to be with him. They end up getting a marriage license one minute before the bet deadline. She then goes to live with her husband at the mall (which she owns anyway).
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Folklore]]
* In the older versions -- pre-twentieth century -- of RobinHood, the king (who may be UsefulNotes/RichardTheLionHeart or, if the ballad is old enough, a King Edward) disguises himself to get Robin Hood to capture him. Due to Robin's role in the RightfulKingReturns in twentieth century works, this has become less common, but not unknown.
* King Matthias the Just (aka Matthias Corvinus) of Hungary has hundreds of tales depicting him as this, using it to expose corrupt lords or to learn about the problems of his people.
* Popular tales about Polish king Casimir III the Great ascribe him the habit of wandering in beggar's disguise and asking for food. After such a visit he always [[ErmineCapeEffect re-visited said people with his whole court]] and revealing the results of [[SecretTestOfCharacter previous test]] to public. The most popular version involves the king visiting a mean noble who mocked his poverty and a poor peasant who shared his last loaf of bread with stranger and asking him to come to baptism of his child. The following Sunday, the king's carriage stopped by the knight's castle just to warn him about underestimating people and then the king, with his whole court in tow, come to the peasant's cottage and throw a party to celebrate the peasant's son's baptism. The king becomes one of the child's godfathers, promises to take care of whole family, and gives them a loaf of bread in exchange for the one that he had eaten before. [[DisproportionateReward It was made of pure gold ]].
* In the old fairytale "King Grizzlebeard," the eponymous king goes through several disguises to get (and to get back at) the princess.
* In the Sicilian fairy tale "[[http://www.mythfolklore.net/andrewlang/247.htm Paperarello]]", the title character is a king who finds work as a goose-boy in another kingdom. Paperarello (derived from Italian ''papera'' meaning "gosling") is the nickname given to him.
* In Chinese folklore, famous government officials (especially ones well known for a strong sense of justice) were said to disguise themselves in plainclothes to better [[strike: spy]] understand the people he was ruling over.
** This is also a very common thread in Arabian or Islamic folktales, too.
* The Jewish folktale "TheSwordOfWood" has a king visit a cobbler without him knowing who he is.
* Toyama Kagemoto is celebrated in both folklore and JidaiGeki for [[WalkingTheEarth Wandering The Earth]] (well, Japan at least) in disguise and righting wrongs after he reveals his true identity in dramatic fashion.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Literature]]
* Used by Thomas, Lord of the obscure British castle of Magnus in Sigmund Brouwer's ''Literature/WingsOfDawn''; officially, he's terribly sick and close to death for the last six months, while in reality he's been in hiding from the Druid conspiracy that seeks his castle and his books, and terribly sick of being stuck inside that long, so he goes undercover to get some fresh air and find out what's happened in the meantime. Good thing, too, since the Druids strike while he's gone.
* ''Literature/The1001Nights'':
** In "Two Sisters Who Were Jealous of Their Younger Sister", the Sultan, having just buried his father and assumed the title, disguises himself to check out how his people are receiving the change. He overhears three sisters discussing their "If I could have one wish" fantasies, in which one says she'd marry the Sultan's chief baker, the next says she'd marry the chief cook, and the youngest says "Nothing less than the Sultan himself" - so the Sultan decides to make their wishes come true.
** According to these stories, caliph Harun al-Rashid also liked to do this. He wasn't necessarily good at it, though, nearly getting himself killed in ''The Porter and the Three Ladies of Baghdad'' for asking nosy questions while forgetting they didn't know who he was.
* In a way, [[spoiler: Carrot]] in the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'' books.
** Elsewhere in ''Discworld'', Nanny Ogg reflects on an (unrelated) story that fits this trope and her suspicion that the King in question sent his people around beforehand to make sure everyone knew what was really happening "in case anyone tried to get ''too'' common."
** Prince Heinrich of Zlobenia in ''Discworld/MonstrousRegiment'' serves in his own army as Captain Hortenz, and tries to get too common with a serving girl (actually the heroine [[RecursiveCrossdressing disguised as a boy disguised as a serving girl]]), who naturally [[GroinAttack kicks him]] in the[[UnusualEuphemism "Royal Succession"]].
* When we first meet Aragorn, the rightful king, in ''Literature/TheLordOfTheRings'', he's a ranger named Strider. We don't find out his true identity for quite some time. Tolkien himself didn't know at first: in the first drafts he was considering making the character a Hobbit {{badass}} who had had adventures with Gandalf and been captured and tortured in Mordor.
** And before the events of ''Lord of the Rings'', there was this mysterious advisor to Steward Ecthelion (Denethor's father) of Gondor...
** And before that, when Théoden was a child, there was a mysterious foreigner who rode with the Rohirrim and just up and left one day...
* Prince Gwydion and Fflewddur Fflam of the ''Literature/ChroniclesOfPrydain'' both travel around the countryside in simple traveling garb. Both cases are heavily subverted though. The protagonist of the series, Taran, recognizes Gwydion within minutes of meeting him and is actually shocked and disappointed to not find him in more regal garb. Gwydion uses it as a lesson to not judge others by their appearance alone. Fflewddur meanwhile makes a point out of boasting how he is a king (of a rather small kingdom, but a king nonetheless), thereby voiding the "Incognito" portion of "KingIncognito".
* [[spoiler: Nat Whilk]] in ''The Dragons of Babel''. It helps that he's been gone for a number of years and no one saw that much of him to begin with. [[spoiler: And at the end, Will comes back after twenty years or so and does the same thing.]]
* The Eternal Emperor, Ruler of the Court of a Thousand Worlds, in the ''Literature/{{Sten}}'' series by Chris Bunch & Allan Cole, liked to take a break from the Imperial rulership thing by dressing up as a seedy starship engineer named "Haroun al-Raschid" (in a deliberate homage to the Arabian Nights) and go out bar crawling. And getting in bar fights.
* The Connatic, benign dictator of the Alastor Cluster in Creator/JackVance's ''Literature/{{Alastor}}'' trilogy, not only frequently goes out into the public in disguise, but makes sure that the people know of this habit. He only appears as his official self once in the series and it is implied that Ryl Shermatz, a government agent who appears in two of the books, may be one of his cover identities.
* Sir Creator/WalterScott's ''Literature/{{Ivanhoe}}'' features [[UsefulNotes/RichardTheLionHeart King Richard I]] going around as a mysterious knight searching for adventure upon his return to England. His loyal retainers' advice not to risk his life in this manner is ignored.
* In Fiona Patton's ''[[Literature/TalesOfTheBranionRealm The Painter Knight]],'' the mildly insane king goes bar-crawling. This doesn't work, however, because members of the royal family are quasi-divine and have literally [[FireballEyeballs flaming eyes]]. Whatever tavern he enters is required to uncomfortably maintain the fiction, under pain of having the bar burned down. When he is assassinated and his daughter and heir is on the run from her enemies, her eyes are disguised by blindfolding her with a thin cloth, so that she can see but others will think she is blind. Her distinctly red hair, another family characteristic, is darkened with dirt.
* Prince Jonathon in the ''Literature/SongOfTheLioness'' quartet.
** In the sequel quartet, ''Literature/ProtectorOfTheSmall'', Kel didn't know that her friend Princess Shinkokami was part of the Imperial bloodline of the Yamani Islands until after the latter arrives in Tortall to meet her future husband Prince Roald. Shinko explains that her family was out of favor with her uncle the Emperor at the time and she loved it that Kel treated her like an ordinary person, so never told her.
* Prince Roger and his surviving bodyguards do this in Creator/JohnRingo and Creator/DavidWeber's ''[[Literature/PrinceRoger We Few]]'', literally remolding their bodies with supertech to go undercover.
* KingArthur did this in ''Literature/AConnecticutYankeeInKingArthursCourt'', to no one's benefit. However he did give King Arthur a CrowningMomentOfAwesome when he knowingly exposes himself to infection by carrying a smallpox stricken child to die in the arms of her equally ill mother.
* The King and the Duke from ''Literature/AdventuresOfHuckleberryFinn'' claim to be this, but Huck can tell they're just con men on the run almost immediately after meeting them.
* Another Creator/MarkTwain piece, ''Literature/ThePrinceAndThePauper'', features the eponymous prince swapping places with the eponymous pauper, effectively becoming this.
* In Creator/JamesThurber's ''Literature/The13Clocks'', the wandering minstrel is, in reality, a prince. (The wicked duke finds him out by finding his real clothing: the ErmineCapeEffect strikes.)
* In the ChivalricRomance ''Sir Orfeo'', Orfeo wanders in the wilderness because of his grief at the loss of his wife, kidnapped by the king of [[TheFairFolk Fairy]]. However, when he finds the fairy court, he exploits it to present himself as a ministrel. When the king [[ThePromise promises]] him a reward, he asks for his wife back. The king objects because he is so tattered. Orfeo says that [[IGaveMyWord breaking his word]] would be worse, and gets her.
* In Creator/GregCostikyan's book ''Another Day, Another Dungeon'' [[spoiler:Vic, the senile old man who tells long, pointless stories and begs for spare change, turns out to be the last polymage, a type of sorcerer thought to have died out more than ten thousand years ago.]] This definitely counts as a DeusExMachina, but it's completely forgivable because it's ''hilarious.''
* In Creator/EdgarRiceBurroughs's ''[[Literature/JohnCarterOfMars Chessmen of Mars]]'', Gahan the Jed of Gathol met, and rather repulsed, John Carter's daughter Tara. He disguised himself as a panthan, a wandering swordsman, named Turan when they met again.
* Subverted in Yulia Latynina's ''Wizards and Ministers'', when the naive young emperor Varnazd tries to be this [[spoiler: and ends up being coerced to join a street gang which then just betrayed him and took him hostage, easily recognising who he was]]. His [[DeadpanSnarker Prime Minister]] was honestly relieved that this was as far as it went, having previously noted that all the wannabe Haroun ar-Rashid emperors in the Wei Empire tended to end up as irresponsible Robin Hood-wannabe gang leaders ''with complete immunity from law enforcement'' that was afraid to arrest anyone right or wrong for the fear of accidentally arresting the Emperor.
* ''Literature/SixteenThirtyTwo'' has Gustavus Adolphus as in RealLife below.
* The initial love interest in ''Literature/VariableStar'' is addicted to this in an almost literal fashion, discovering just how much she can find out if nobody realizes who she is. (She's not technically royal, but her financial status is about a step above ComicBook/RichieRich.)
* Murtagh of the ''Literature/InheritanceCycle'', despite seeming to be an ordinary rogue, is [[spoiler: the son of the Empire's most powerful general, the Dragon Rider Morzan, who died fifteen years earlier]]
* In Creator/AndreNorton's {{Ruritania}}n novel ''The Prince Commands'', Michael Karl, soon to be King of Morvania as a result of his cousin Urlich Karl's death, is captured by a bandit known as The Werewolf, a prime suspect, who makes no secret of his dislike for the royal family. Protests too much, methinks, because [[spoiler: The Werewolf '''is''' Urlich Karl, using that role to build [[LaResistance a loyal army]] while '''also''' posing as an American journalist to ferret out [[AristocratsAreEvil traitors among the nobility]].]]
* In Creator/LewisCarroll's ''Literature/SylvieAndBruno'', when Sylvie and Bruno chase after a beggar driven off by their uncle, aunt, and cousin, they find it's their father -- who has become the King of Elfland.
* In Creator/ScottWesterfeld's novel ''Literature/{{Leviathan}}'', [[spoiler: Alek turns out to be the rightful heir to the Austrian-Hungary empire.]] Not a king, but close enough.
* In the ''Literature/CodexAlera'' series:
** [[spoiler: Tavi starts out as a SecretLegacy, but is finally told the truth about his heritage early in the fourth book]]. However, it fits this trope for the fourth book, as he travels around the country as a soldier or spy rather than openly admitting who he really is. It's partly a KingIncognito in the fifth book as well. The Alerans know, but to most of the Canim he is just another soldier from among the demons and he has to bargain or bully his way through. It's unlikely that knowing who he was would have affected how they treated him, though.
** The First Lord does this as well when he feels like delivering a message personally. It's actually justified since having powerful watercrafting allows him to shapeshift. It then gets subverted in that the GenreSavvy Tavi and Marcus see right through it despite the shapeshifitng, because they know the First Lord's mannerisms and body language and the First Lord fails to change them when he's incognito.
** One noblewoman, Invidia Aquitaine, gives her husband Attis a dancing slave girl as an anniversary present. He gives the girl to one of his servants, Fidelias, for the night, as a reward. Once they're alone, Fidelias reveals he figured out she was Invidia. They discuss business and she says she's going to sleep with him anyway, as ordered. Ironically, Aquitaine makes a remark about what his wife might say if she were there, and Fidelias concurred, though he had already figured it out by that point.
* Henry VII ([[http://www.kipling.org.uk/rg_kingsjob1.htm supposedly]]) posed as a leper in "The King's Job" (aka ''[[http://www.kipling.org.uk/poems_kingsjob.htm The Tudor Monarchy]]'') by Creator/RudyardKipling.
* In ''Literature/TheMalazanBookOfTheFallen'', a highly competent but otherwise unassuming servant turns out to be [[spoiler: ''the Elder God of the sea'' in disguise, who decided to live among humans in an attempt to avert WhoWantsToLiveForever]].
* In Creator/BernardCornwell's ''Azincourt'', a disguised Henry V talks to his soldiers the night before the battle. Almost certainly an homage to Shakespeare's use of the trope (see below).
* In the ''[[Literature/TheBelgariad Malloreon]]'':
** Zakath's default state is ModestRoyalty. Except when forced to ride around in expensive robes, wearing a heavy crown, he prefers wearing simple white linen - both when travelling and when dealing with the day-to-day work of being Emperor of Mallorea. As a result, no-one ever recognises when he does travel around the city. When he joins Garion's group, he's forced to become a real King Incognito. Thanks to his usual spartan dress sense, the only change he makes to his appearance to make it even harder to recognise him is... to grow a beard.
** Garion also qualifies when he's adventuring. Most of the main characters qualify in some way or another, since they're almost all at least nobles of some rank.
* In ''Literature/TheChroniclesOfAmber'', some of the Nine Princes of Amber did this, riding into shadow and taking up places away from court.
* Paul Atreides does this in ''Literature/DuneMessiah''.
* In Creator/RobertEHoward's Literature/ConanTheBarbarian story "Literature/AWitchShallBeBorn", Salome throws the head of a murdered man to a deaf beggar and casually discusses the true queen's imprisonment. Not only is Valerius not a beggar but a LaResistance leader, he's [[ObfuscatingDisability not deaf]].
* The Medieval Dutch epic poem ''Karel Ende Elegast'' recounts the adventures of Charlemagne, disguised as a common thief, and his companion Elegast, who may or may not be an elven king. Charlemagne takes advantage of his thieving alter-ego to break into the castle of his brother-in-law, who he then conveniently overhears plotting regicide.
* In Creator/AnneRice's ''The Mummy'', the eponymous character reminisces about advising Cleopatra that a good ruler ''has'' to do this, on account of never really getting the complete picture from their advisers on the state of the kingdom.
* In Claire Madras's ''Sissi in Ireland'', Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary (aka Sissi) disguised herself as a "mere" Austrian countess to travel through a highly fictionalised Ireland of the late XIX century. Only her original hosts know who she is... but due to the gossip of their household staff, Sissi's cover is revealed to a local [[ModestRoyalty noble yet very simple-living]] Irish family that she had befriended, and who then swear secrecy. [[spoiler: In the last chapter of the blook, Sissi willingly presents herself as the Austro-Hungarian Empress in a high-class ball, much to the shock of these who still didn't know.]]
* Wizards in the ''Literature/SwordOfTruth'' seem to make a second profession out of this. Zedd (several times), Adie, Richard (several times, never of his own volition, and invoked by the books), Ann, Nathan, Nicci (with Richard), Kahlan (in the Chainfire arc).
* The scarred woman in ''Literature/ABrothersPrice'', later identified as Cira, turns out to be [[spoiler: [[ChekhovMIA the missing princess]] Halley]], in disguise.
* In Creator/JRRTolkien's ''Literature/SmithOfWoottonMajor'', in Smith's first meeting with the queen, she does not reveal her identity. [[spoiler:Also, Alf is the fairy king.]]
* In Robert Jordan's ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' series, this happens a few times:
** in ''The Path of Daggers'', Queen Morgase passes herself off as Maighdin, a simple lady's maid ([[RichInDollarsPoorInSense which she's bad at]]), to escape [[PuppetKing being made a puppet]]
** in ''Lord of Chaos'', we learn that Tigraine, heir to the throne, was given [[TheProphecy a prophecy]] that says she must leave and disguise herself as an [[ProudWarriorRaceGuy Aiel]] [[AmazonBrigade Maiden of the Spear]]
** [[TheChosenOne Rand al'Thor]] does this at least once, in ''The Gathering Storm'', wearing plain clothes and walking the streets of a city ruled by [[EmpireWithADarkSecret his enemy]], only to find how happy and peaceful everyone is
* At several points in the Literature/VorkosiganSaga books, Emperor Gregor of Barrayar uses his title of Count Vorbarra for the 'avoid irritating protocol' variant of this trope. Also applies during ''The Vor Game'' after he runs away and ''Barrayar'' when he is being hidden from Vordarian's forces.
* Ista's [[CoughSnarkCough vaca-*ahem*]] pilgrimage in ''[[Literature/{{Chalion}} Paladin of Souls]]'' was taken using the surname of a distant cousin and most minor noble title available to avoid the entourage deemed fitting for the sister of a ruling Provincar[[note]]think 'Duke'[[/note]] and mother of Royina[[note]]think ''Queen''[[/note]] Iselle.
* Spoofed in ''Literature/{{Mogworld}}'': The King of Lolede disguises himself twice to help the cause of LaResistance, but everyone recognizes him anyway. [[PaperThinDisguise Wearing his crown quite visibly under his hood]] probably did not help matters.
* A variation occurs in ''Literature/CatchTwentyTwo'', Major Major Major Major, bored and lonely, puts on a disguise and insinuates himself into the base's basketball game. In true ''Catch-22'' fashion, this backfires spectacularly: once the other players realize that it's their commanding officer in disguise, they play even ''rougher'' with him, knowing that they can get away with abusing him by pretending they didn't recognize him afterwards.
* 'Brian' a traveller in ''Literature/AnEncounterAndAnOffer'', is actually King Richard Edward Plantagenet. His pseudonym turns out to be pretty pointless though.
* In "Gylfaginning" of ''Literature/ProseEdda'', King Gylfi of Sweden travels in search of Asgard disguised as an old man and calling himself Gangleri.
* Tip in 'The Marvelous Land of Oz'. Kind of. It's complicated.
* In TheBookOfTheNewSun, the Autarch is (at least) several of his own minor officials, a [[spoiler:brothel keeper]], and a conspirator against the throne.
* In ''Literature/TheLostPrince'', many generations of the legendary Lost Prince's descendents have lived incognito while preparing for the day they can pull a {{Rightful King Return|s}} without some SketchySuccessor immediately arranging for them to get lost again. When the protagonists are formally introduced to the Returned King at the end of the novel, it turns out to be someone they've met before on multiple occasions without knowing his heritage.
* In ''Akarnae'', the protagonist Alex eventually discovers that [[spoiler: her antisocial roommate D.C. is actually Princess Delucia Cavelle, the heir to the Medoran throne.]]
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* In the ''Series/{{Merlin}}'' episode "The Once and Future Queen", Prince Arthur discovers the other knights are letting him win duels and jousts, so disguises himself as an ordinary knight to compete in a tournament, to prove that he doesn't need special treatment.
* Subverted in the first season of ''{{Blackadder}}''; Edmund, Baldrick and Percy visit a plague-ridden village to visit an informative old crone, and after several people greet Edmund, Baldrick suggests that he disguise himself so no one will deliberately infect him. Edmund then places [[PaperThinDisguise a strip of cloth over his eye]], and the peasants just play along.
* The premise of ''Series/UndercoverBoss'', a reality(ish) show where a CEO works in an entry-level role of his own company while in disguise.
* ''Series/BabylonFive'':
** In one episode, Commander Sinclair goes looking for information in disguise - mainly changing out of his uniform into more nondescript clothing. Nobody recognizes him as the station commander (But then, the station does have a population of 250,000, and most of them have probably never seen his face).
** Delenn is secretly a member of the Grey Council (the Mimbari ruling body), keeping an eye on Sinclair.
** Garibaldi, the chief of Station Security, does this from time to time too, adding a [[NiceHat fedora]] to help conceal his face. He justifies it by pointing out that most people dealing with cops don't see an individual or even a face, just a uniform and a badge.
* Series/{{Xena|WarriorPrincess}} and a princess who look just like her had to switch places and the princess had to learn what it's like to live like a warrior peasant.
* King Sukjong in ''Series/DongYi'' likes to inspect his country in such a manner. And it was in one such tour when he bumped into the eponymous character. Hilarity ensues when she acted rather rudely (albeit not on purpose) in front of him, unaware of his real identity.
* Trick, the bartender in ''Series/LostGirl'', is secretly the Blood King of the Fae.
* This trope is the primary conceit behind the long-running JidaiGeki series ''AbarenboShogun''. The eponymous Shogun disguises himself as an ordinary samurai to hang out with firefighters, uncover corruption, and solve mysteries. Every episode ends with a Big Reveal where he confronts the evildoer of the day, which nearly always results in a big sword fight.
* In keeping with the older RobinHood ballads, King Richard does this in the ''RobinOfSherwood'' episode "The King's Fool".
* In ''Series/DoctorWho'' episode Nightmare in Silver, it turns out that [[spoiler:Porridge is the Emperor]].
* Emperor Qian Long in ''Series/PrincessReturningPearl'' goes on an incognito inspection trip around the country. This is TruthInTelevision as he is an emperor famous for these trips.
** Yong Qi, Er Kang, Zi Wei and Xiao Yan Zi also try to keep their royal (and fugitive) status secret in series 2, not always to great success.
* Deconstructed in an episode of ''Series/TheMusketeers'', in which King Louis XIII goes out incognito for a night on the town to see how the working class live, and gets kidnapped by slavers. The result is an enormous mess that leaves a huge body count, and the King unambiguously fails to learn any kind of humility, compassion or decency.
* On ''Series/{{The 100}}'', when Jaha and Kane are taken prisoner by the Grounders, a timid servant girl is left to watch over them. At the end of the episode, it turns out the girl is actually the Grounders' Commander, posing as a mere servant so Jaha and Kane would talk freely to each other in front of her, letting her get a better assessment of their characters.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Myth and Legend]]
* Zeus, and others of the [[Myth/ClassicalMythology Greek Gods]] would also occasionally walk the earth in the guise of old hags or beggars, so they could reward those that showed them kindness, or punish those that didn't. The most famous story of this is the tale of Baucis and Philemon, where Zeus and Hermes, disguised as beggars, are shown SacredHospitality by the poor, elderly couple Baucis and Philemon after their richer neighbors had shut their doors to the gods. This leads to Zeus providing some LaserGuidedKarma to the rich people and one of Classical Myth's [[CrowningMomentOfHeartwarming most heartwarming endings]].
* One of the founding myths of ancient Athens was that its semilegendary last ruling king, Codrus, heard a prophecy that if the city was to be saved from the attacking Dorians, an Athenian king would have to die. Codrus therefore disguised himself as a peasant, found a Dorian encampment, provoked the garrison, and was killed in the ensuing quarrel. After this, everyone agreed that this was a ToughActToFollow and that therefore Athens would never again have a king; his descendants were instead given a hereditary post in the judiciary with additional religious duties.[[note]]To give a comparison for those not sure what this means: Imagine if [[UsefulNotes/TheHouseOfWindsor George VI]] had had a vision that the only way Britain would survive the Blitz would be if he were to disguise himself as an ordinary member of the RAF and fly reckless missions until the Luftwaffe shot him down, and the response being for the Royal Family to willingly agree to Britain to become a republic, but the people saying "Only if the person who ''would'' be the monarch is always Chief Justice and also the Archbishop of Canterbury." Such was Greece.[[/note]]
* Myth/NorseMythology has Odin doing this a lot as well, sometimes accompanied by Loki.
* Myth/{{Japanese|Mythology}} folklore has {{youkai}} which fill this role.
* According to the [[Literature/TheBible New Testament]], God the Son became a mortal man in order to reconcile with fallen humanity, and even after his return to heaven remains The Son of Man as much as of God.
** Some interpretations of Jesus' parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-46) see the King in this story as using this trope to test the goodwill of his subjects.
* More than one Catholic saint has an encounter like this in their legends.
** Saint Martin of Tours, one of the most popular Catholic saints, was converted after having shared his cape with a freezing beggar, who turned out to be Jesus.
** Saint Christopher, was an ex-GeniusBruiser turned GentleGiant who converted to Christianity after finding out that the cute little boy once he helped cross a river was actually Baby Jesus, and that said baby was actually the Lord and Master of the Universe.
** Both St. Francis of Assisi and St. Elizabeth of Hungary, among others, are said to have encountered Christ in the unpleasant form of a leper.
* King Solomon, of Jewish history/mythology, was said to have been thrown down from his throne and replaced by a demon impostor. He was forced to roam the land as a commoner, so rather than by choice, this one was against his will.
* The prophet Elijah favored this trick, doing it willingly to gauge the temper of the Israelite people. On the other hand, he was often forced to do it (he was hunted by King Ahab, so he ''had'' to hide).
* Angels are said to do this, as in the story of Lot.
* Also used by Odysseus in ''Literature/TheOdyssey'', to gain entry into Troy (as well as his home, after the suitors took it over).
* King UsefulNotes/AlfredTheGreat of Wessex traditionally infiltrated the ranks of his Danish enemies disguised as a minstrel; more famously, in disguise, he was taken into a poor woman's hut and told to watch her baking cakes, and slapped by her when he burned them. (Both incidents are included by Creator/GKChesterton in ''The Ballad of the White Horse''.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Tabletop RPG]]
* In ''ForgottenRealms'' divine minions do it frequently -- Elminster more often than Khelben, and Erevis Cale constantly lives as a "head butler" of a wealthy merchant family.
** Azoun IV Obarskyr of Cormyr, before he became king, joined an adventuring group fittingly named "the King's Men" soon after it was founded, as a swordsman named "Balin", but revealed his identity to them after a few months. The [[CourtMage Royal Court Wizard]], of course, both kept an eye on and covered for the prince, pretending he's on an expedition or pilgrimage.
* In ''{{Traveller}}'' this is a common fashion among Imperial nobles and is perfectly legal as long as their incognito is registered should mail arrive. Generally they will use in-jokes like literary characters for their incognito.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Theater]]
* In Creator/GilbertAndSullivan's ''Theatre/TheMikado'' Prince Nanki-Poo disguises himself as a minstrel to escape the advances of Lady Katisha, a [[ChristmasCake much older woman]] who wants his hand in marriage.
* A favorite of Creator/{{Shakespeare}}:
** Several characters in ''Theatre/KingLear''.
** In ''Theatre/HenryV'', King Henry dresses as a common soldier and wanders the camp the night before the battle so he can hear what the foot soldiers think of him. It is not always complimentary.
** The Duke of Vienna in ''Theatre/MeasureForMeasure'' spends most of the play disguised as a friar in order to spy on his subordinate, Angelo, who he has left in charge of governing the city. Good thing, too, since Angelo proves to be ruthless and corrupt..
** Lucentio, son and heir of the famed merchant Vincentio, disguises himself as a language tutor in ''Theatre/TheTamingOfTheShrew''.
* Played for laughs in Offenbach's ''Theatre/LaPerichole''. The Viceroy disguises himself as a common man to find out what the people really think of him. His courtiers, however, have tipped off everyone in the town, and bribed them to say how much they love the Viceroy. When he finally realizes he is being lied to, and finds La Perichole reviling the government, he is rapturous at "beautiful, beautiful truth!"
* ''Theatre/TheRoseOfAlgeria'': The RebelliousPrincess Zoradie disguises herself as a fortune-teller named Miriam in order to discover the identity of a mysterious poet.
* There are stage adaptations of ''Literature/CharlieAndTheChocolateFactory'' that pull this in conjunction with CompositeCharacter to explain how Charlie Bucket manages to find the last of the five Golden Tickets despite his dire straits. In the 2005 stage musical ''Roald Dahl's Willy Wonka'' and the 2010 opera ''Theatre/TheGoldenTicket'', a candy vendor/sweetshop owner whom Charlie meets and befriends in the early going is actually Willy Wonka in disguise -- a concept not that farfetched as the novel has Charlie live in the same town as the Wonka Factory to begin with. In both versions, he has a lot of PetTheDog moments with the boy in both his identities, in an effort to soften a character who has a notorious dark streak.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''JadeEmpire'', the hero encounters a mysterious female ninja named Silk Fox. She later turns out to be [[spoiler:[[RebelliousPrincess Princess Sun Lian]], trying to discover the source of corruption in her father's government.]]
** Also, Master Li of a rather small martial arts school, starts off as a somewhat important character (master of your school, but it's out in the middle of nowhere and all). Early in the game, he [[TheReveal reveals]] to you that he is [[spoiler:Sun Li the Glorious Strategist, brother of the current Emperor.]] Over the course of the plot you have a few opportunities to tell people this when they ask about Master Li, but most of them - including the above-mentioned Silk Fox - won't believe you.
* In ''VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIIMorrowind'', an old man in imperial armor gives you a lucky coin on your way to face the BigBad if you have done certain things in the game. You never see him again, but it turns out he was the spirit of the first emperor, Tiber Septim, that had ascended to godhood.
** Tiber Septim is also suspected to be the true identity of the ragged old prophet from Knights of the Nine.
* The player character's history stories in ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIIDaggerfall Daggerfall]]'' generally involved the player helping one of the Emperor's sons without knowing who he was, and later being rewarded by the Emperor for it.
* Three ''FireEmblem'' games have a prince joining your party in the guise of a bard, a healer or swordsman.
** L'Arachel (8th game) tries to hide her identity as a princess, but [[LargeHam enjoys drawing attention to herself too much.]] Other cases are Levin from the 4th game and [[spoiler: Joshua]] from the same 8th game.
** ''Radiant Dawn'' has [[spoiler: Micaiah. While she knew she was Branded, it isn't revealed until the Endgame that her ancestor was in love with the Apostle of Begnion, thus making her the true Empress. Played with in that she ends up ruling the kingdom of Daein instead.]]
** [[spoiler:Prince Mildain/Elphin the bard]] from the sixth game.
* Princess Nadia of ''VideoGame/ChronoTrigger'' disguises herself and takes on the pseudonym Marle in order to see the Millenial Fair. It's only after they're sucked into the past that the heroes figure out who she really is when [[IdenticalGrandson she's mistaken for her ancestor Queen Leene]].
* Quite a few times in ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda''
** Zelda while disguised as Shiek in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaOcarinaOfTime''
** [[spoiler: Tetra]] in ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker''. She has no clue about her royal lineage at first, and some time after finding out she continues to disguise herself as her normal [[spoiler:Tetra]] persona.
** In ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess'', there's [[spoiler:Midna]], who happens to be the eponymous Twilight Princess. But we don't find that out until near the end of the game.
** Ralph is revealed near the end of ''Oracle of Ages'' to be the heir to the throne of Labrynna, and a direct descendant of Queen Ambi. Early on, he dodges the question of how he knows so much about the nation's history and the palace layout, so clearly he is actively hiding it, though it's harder to hide that he [[StrongFamilyResemblance looks exactly like Ambi]].
*** Additionally, both the eponymous Oracle of Ages and her ''Oracle of Seasons'' counterpart are divinely-empowered priestesses who have disguised themselves as common performers for safety.
* ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyXII'' is full of these. [[spoiler:Lord Larsa starts out pretending to be a mysterious boy named "Lamont", Princess Ashe masquerades as Amalia, and Judge Zecht forfeits his rank and title and becomes the Pirate King Reddas. Baltheir was also a Judge in the past and gave it up long before the game started]]
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyVI'', by Post-cataclysmic Edgar. The heroes, having met him before, see right through the ruse. After several denials, he finally fesses up.
* In ''VideoGame/TalesOfVesperia'' we have a {{subversion}}, [[spoiler: Estelle]] thinks [[spoiler: she]]'s this, but the only one who didn't figure out that [[spoiler: she's a princess]] on his own was Karol.
** Gaius becomes this in ''VideoGame/TalesOfXillia2'' so he can learn the daily lives and living conditions of the Elympions.
* Early on in ''BaldursGate'' you meet an unassuming "[[NominalImportance Old Man]]" in some very obvious bright red wizard getup. This being an RPG set in the Forgotten Realms and the old man's penchant for CrypticConversation, you should have no trouble figuring out that it's an Elminster cameo. Don't worry if you do, though -- Elminster and Drizzt have cameos throughout the entire series (when it's clear who they are). Another of Elminster's cameos has him taking the pseudonym "Terminsel" during Jaheira's personal quest. She figures it out quickly enough.
* ''[[VideoGame/TearsToTiara2 Tears to Tiara 2]]'': [[TheTeam the leadersof the Canaanites]] does this to travel to the Rhenus frontiers to look for allies. Monomachus says he can just announce who he is and his intentions. But [[TheHero Hamil]] says he wants to test them and want to make them believe and follow him from their heart.
* ''VideoGame/SuikodenIV'': Soon after making landfall on the Island Kingdom of Obel, the PlayerParty is given directions to the King's place by some guy on the street wearing worn sandals and an open, salmon pink vest. Congratulations! HelloInsertNameHere was just introduced to [[ActiveRoyalty King Lino en Kuldes]], one of the fan-favorite characters.
* ''VideoGame/QuestForGloryII: Trial By Fire'' had one when [[spoiler: the poet Omar]] is revealed at the end to be [[spoiler: the Sultan of Shapeir]].
* [[spoiler:Alistair]] in ''VideoGame/DragonAgeOrigins'', although it's because [[spoiler: he's the illegitimate heir to the throne.]] If he does become King, one epilogue reveals that he often sneaks out of the palace in order to head down to the local taverns, where he proceeds to buy everyone a round of drinks. The people love him for it.
* [[spoiler:Joshua]] in ''VideoGame/TheWorldEndsWithYou''. Instead of being a regular player, he's actually ''[[AGodAmI the freaking Composer of Shibuya]]''. Doesn't stop him from being any less of a {{Jerkass}} though.
* Roan in ''GrandiaII'', who first appears as a bratty TagalongKid. When the party reaches his hometown, he's revealed to be the crown prince. In the epilogue he playes the trope really straight when he ventures out of his kingdom to visit his old friends.
* ''VideoGame/FableIII'' will live and breath this trope once you succeed in overthrowing the corrupt king of Albion and take his place.
* ''VideoGame/{{Persona 4}}'': Remember [[spoiler:the gas station attendant who, other than making your controller vibrate and causing you to feel dizzy, seemed just like any other attendant?]] Well, turns out she's [[spoiler:Izanami, the BigBad and the TrueFinalBoss.]] And you don't find out about this unless you decide to go for the True Ending.
* ''VideoGame/{{Touhou}}'' has the Earth Rabbit youkai, Tewi Inaba. As a mere Mid-Boss, fans interpreted her as a lowly servant. Indeed, based on ''[[http://en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Perfect_Memento:_Reisen_Udongein_Inaba Perfect Memento]]'', it's assumed in-story that she serves under the MoonRabbit, Reisen. Of course, the truth is, Tewi barely listens to anyone at all. When Reisen finally got frustrated of Tewi in ''[[http://en.touhouwiki.net/wiki/Cage_in_Lunatic_Runagate:_First_Chapter Cage In Lunatic Runagate]]'', she asks her master [[PhysicalGod Eirin]] why they even allow Tewi to run around freely in Eientei. For whatever reason (possibly pride) Eirin doesn't tell her the truth: in reality, ''Tewi'' is the master of the Bamboo Forest of the Lost, where Eientei was built. ''Tewi'' is the leader of all the {{Youkai}} Earth Rabbits, whom only serve as Eientei's servants because Tewi says so, and wouldn't listen to the Lunarians at all otherwise. Further, ''Tewi'' is basically treating the Lunarians as tenants; she approached them long ago with the deal that she and her rabbits would help to hide the exiles from the whole world, so long as the Lunarians shared their knowledge with Tewi. Ergo, it's not the Lunarians who tolerate Tewi running around freely in Eientei; it's ''Tewi'' who tolerates ''them''.
--> '''Eirin:''' It was clear that Tewi wasn't just a normal youkai rabbit. All the earth rabbits listened to everything she said. Though there was nothing at all dignified in her appearance, the idea of her being able to control a great number of rabbits at will brings to mind the image of an ascetic who has achieved enlightenment.
* N from ''VideoGame/PokemonBlackAndWhite'' is actually the king of [[AnimalWrongsGroup Team Plasma]]. He reveals this to the player just before you get your fourth badge in Nimbasa City, while on the ferris wheel.
** A non-royalty example from the same game: the president of the Battle Company likes to pose as a [[AlmightyJanitor janitor]] to scout strong Trainers.
* In ''VideoGame/DeusExHumanRevolution'', [[spoiler: Heng Sha [[TheTriadsAndTheTongs triad boss]] Tong Si Hung impersonates a bartender in his own nightclub to screen people who are seeking an audience with him.]]
* [[spoiler:Huepow]] of ''VideoGame/{{Klonoa}}: Door to Phantomile''. You don't find this out until the ''last world''!
* According to one of the D'ni history notebooks in ''VideoGame/{{Uru}}: To D'ni'', King Lemashal was said to wander the city incognito to see how people treat each other.
* In the ''VideoGame/KingsQuest'' series:
** Whenever he goes adventuring, King Graham doesn't bother letting people know he's a king, though it's usually because he's outside his own kingdom at the time.
** In the sixth game, Alexander can either make a point of using his princely status to try to make things go his way (it doesn't work, but it's an important plot point), or remain incognito. Generally he doesn't bother to call himself "Prince Alexander" unless his status would help him somehow.
* The kingdom of Hamelin in ''VideoGame/NiNoKuni'' once had two princes: [[HotBlooded Fiery, clever, and standoffish Gascon]] and [[ShrinkingViolet Shy, sweet, and magical Marcassin.]] However, the elder Gascon vanished, leaving Marcassin alone. So what happened to Gascon? [[spoiler: He grew up into the [[TheTramp drifting thief]] known as Swaine, who's been traveling with you since you acquired you [[GetOnTheBoat boat,]] and had been troubling you for a not-insignificant time before that.]] [[DramaticIrony The player figures this out long before the characters do.]]
* ''VideoGame/LegendOfHeroesTrailsInTheSky'' features not one but two actual royals. The First Chapter reveals [[spoiler: [[WhiteMagicianGirl White Magician Schoolgirl]] Kloe Rinz]] is actually [[spoiler: crown princess Klaudia von Auslese. She]] would rather help the people with a more hands-on approach than ruling. In the Second Chapter, we learn that the [[spoiler: [[BunnyEarsLawyer eccentric]] [[HandsomeLech hunter of love]]-slash-musician Olivier Lenheim]] is in reality [[spoiler: prince Olivert Reise Arnor of Erebonia.]] The party probably wouldn't believe the latter if it wasn't for [[spoiler: the Erebonian army corps and their lieutenant general behind Olivier]] backing this claim.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* ''Webcomic/{{Collar 6}}'': Sixx admits to being a high ranking mistress, but not to being incredibly rich.
* ''Webcomic/ImpureBlood'' [[http://www.impurebloodwebcomic.com/Pages/Chapter004/ib019.html No one needs to know who I am.]]
* ''Webcomic/ThePhoenixRequiem'': [[spoiler: Anya]]
* In ''Webcomic/{{Strays}}'' [[http://www.straysonline.com/2011/05/page-171/ Turns out it's Prince Holland]].
* In ''Webcomic/TheInexplicableAdventuresOfBob'' Princess Voluptua (ruler of the solar system, although [[TheMasquerade humanity doesn't know it)]] finds herself on Earth, in human disguise, for a few hours with nothing in particular to do. [[http://bobadventures.comicgenesis.com/d/20130618.html She decides to explore the town]] a little and see what her unknowing subjects are like.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* In one of ''Franchise/{{Bionicle}}'''s on-line serials, we learn that [[spoiler:Velika, a highly eccentric Matoran inventor who always spoke in riddles]], was in fact a disguised Great Being, one of the creators of the Matoran Universe. However this had next to no importance in the story, as the serials sank into a permanent hiatus before this could have been officially revealed.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Done once in ''TransformersGeneration1'' with the young Hassan (real name: Prince Jumal).
* The Number 9 Man of ''{{WesternAnimation/Futurama}}''
** Also, [[spoiler: Nibbler]]
* ''WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender'':
** Hiding from his PsychoForHire sister in enemy territory forces Zuko to trade in the role of Prince for LoveableRogue (and occasionally {{Ninja}}[=-with-=]a-CoolMask).
** As we learn in the first episode of season three, this is also the intended plan for the Earth King and Bosco.
** While it wasn't intentional on either Zuko's or Azula's part, some people didn't recognize them in one episode of Book Three and Azula quickly decided to play along.
--->'''Zuko:''' So why didn't you tell those guys who we were?\\
'''Azula:''' I guess I was intrigued. I am so used to people worshiping us.\\
'''Ty Lee:''' As they should!\\
'''Azula:''' Yes, I know, and I love it. But for once I just want to see how people would treat us if they didn't know who we were.
* ''WesternAnimation/KimPossible'' had a prince who was threatened and so he was sent to Kim's school to blend into the student population. It worked well (well, as much as it could with the prince not disguising his arrogance), [[NiceJobBreakingItHero until Ron Stoppable, who didn't get the concept of "incognito" until it was too late, called the press to announce the prince's presence at Middleton High]].
* ''WesternAnimation/DungeonsAndDragons'': The heroes once met a travelling merchant looking for his missing daughter. In the end, the Dungeon Master revealed the "Merchant" was actually a King going Incognito to make the search easier.
* ''WesternAnimation/JusticeLeague'': Villainous example. When Grodd's secret society broke in the headquarters of Crime Lord Morgan Edge, Edge tried to escape by disguising himself as a servant but it failed because he forgot to put on shoes that weren't too fancy for a servant.
[[/folder]]

[[folder:Real Life]]
* Emperor Kangxi was famous for doing this. As was his grandson, Qianlong. In fact, these visits spawned a gesture still found in southern China. Qianlong tended to serve his companions tea and do other little things. A person receiving such a huge honour would have compelled themselves to kowtow (a deep, kneeling bow where one's head touches the ground) to show their gratitude, but in doing so it would have blown Emperor's cover. In order to keep the his identity secret, they developed a more discreet way to say "thank you": tapping the table several times with the knuckles or fingers, also known as the "finger kowtow".
* King Frederik VIII (1906-12) of Denmark died suddenly on a street in Hamburg while travelling under an alias, and had to be located by the director of the hotel where he stayed and sneaked out of the public morgue by his servants. Since the place where his body was found was very close to a high-class bordello, this immediately led to scandalous rumours about the circumstances of Frederik's death.
* Several Swedish kings have done this, particularly in The House of Vasa:
** King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden, aka [[TheCaptain Captain]] [[FunWithAcronyms Gars.]]
** King Charles XI. According to folklore, his disguise was a simple grey cloak, which he would throw aside to show his royal garb at the right dramatic moment - earning him the nickname ''Gråkappan'', The Grey Cloak. This was likely inspired by the stories of [[Myth/NorseMythology Odin]] incognito, which also inpired [[Literature/TheLordOfTheRings Gandalf's]] design.
** The first King Gustavus. Although he did it, allegedly, while trying to escape imprisonment and execution as a rebellious noble outlaw, but still...
** After abdicating, Christina of Sweden dressed as a man and traveled through Europe.
** King Gustaf VI Adolf (r. 1950-73) was a noted archaeologist, specialising in pre-Roman Italian history, especially Etruscan history (he's often called an Etruscologist as a result). Naturally, he kept a low profile whenever going off to digs in Northern Italy--don't want anyone to know that the King of Sweden is getting his hands dirty digging up old bits of Italian pottery and bone!
* UsefulNotes/PeterTheGreat of Russia spent several years on tour of Western Europe, often going incognito as an ordinary worker to learn the skills he wanted to take home. It's said that he never fooled anybody, since he took a posse around with him. It's also said no one was fooled because Peter the Great [[LargeAndInCharge was 6'8"]] and people that large aren't common today, much less during Peter's time. And that he paid them well enough everyone pretended to not notice.
* It is said that the Doges of Venice had permanent reservations at various establishments as places where they go incognito, as for a Doge to just go out for a drink like a normal person was considered unfitting to the City's dignity.
** ...While one Polish king did leave his chambers frequently, go out for a drink incognito, get into barfights and do similar funny (if unkingly) stuff.
* Queen Elizabeth II did this recently, to enjoy a trip in a steam train.
** On V-E Day after the defeat of Germany, Elizabeth - then a Princess - and her sister Margaret wandered amongst the celebrating crowds anonymously.
* There was both a Bourbon Prince and a Bonaparte prince who served in the Free French Foreign Legion during World War Two, as both their families were officially forbidden French citizenship for fear that they might cause a succession crisis.
* UsefulNotes/{{Nero}} was said to have done this and gone around beating people up (and robbing them), in a PaperThinDisguise that everyone saw through but could do nothing about. After one senator beat him up anyway, he started having bodyguards follow at a distance.
* [[UsefulNotes/RichardTheLionHeart Richard I, the Lionheart]], traveled incognito after returning from TheCrusades, trying to escape capture (he wasn't succesful).
* Neither was king Louis XVI of France when he tried to escape from France as a servant travelling with a large party (actually his family). He was stopped in Varennes, allegedly because someone recognized him with his portrait on a coin
* King Henry V of England. He used pseydonym "Harry Leroy" which is an IncrediblyLamePun on ''three'' accounts - "Harry" is colloquial for Henry, "Leroy" is a Welsh name (he was the Prince of Wales before access to throne) and ''le Roi'' means "king" in French.
* James V of Scotland was said to wander his kingdom as "the Guidman of Ballangeich". ("Guidman" = "Goodman" = "Mister".) For this he was known as "the King of the Commons."
* As mentioned above, Haroun Al-Raschid.
* Also, probably in direct imitation, Abbas the Great of Persia.
* Harun al-Rashid was actually following the tradition of Umar ibn al-Khattab, the second Caliph, who was famous for touring whatever city he was in (usually Medina) by night more or less to check its pulse and particularly to see that nobody was being cheated and that the city's poorest weren't ''too'' poor (if they were, the Islamic pillar of ''[[UsefulNotes/{{Islam}} Zakat]]''--either charity or a poor-tax depending on whom you ask--wasn't working). Umar himself was famous for living the simple life, generally wearing a shabby, patched robe and giving away nearly all his (colossal) income towards the relief of war orphans.
* After the Battle of Worcester Charles II spent six weeks attempting to flee the country, dressing as a regular citizen as he did so. He did usually have allies with him, who would help him move on and point to who could help him (including many Catholics, hence his general appreciation toward them later - and deathbed conversion), but he also had to stand up to scrutiny to those not in the know and occasionally be almost by himself, even talking with Commonwealth supporters about that rogue Charles Stuart. He is said to have seen the time as quite character making for him.
* King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands once participated in a [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elfstedentocht legendary 200 kilometer ice-skating endurance race]] while he was Crown Prince under the pseudonym W.A van Buren. After a while he got recognized, both Queen Beatrix and his father were present when he finished.
* Sigismund of Luxemburg loved doing this. He preferred having fun over his kingly duties and often snuck out dressed as a commoner whenever he wanted to party.
* Mathias Corvinus would occasionally travel dressed as a commoner. Rumours also claim he did some vigillante work this way. One particular story even made him into a thief, due to a fortune teller telling him that he will die the following day if he doesn't break into somebody's house - he broke into the home of one of his advisors, and came across a conspiracy to assassinate him.
* There is a story about the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII - a hotel in Swanage, Dorset (England) claims that he spent time travelling incognito without a retinue and arrived at the hotel only to find it full. They managed to find him a couch to sleep on - and he never let on that he was the son of Queen Victoria. That was, of course, in the days before even illustrated newspapers could print photographs of anyone, including the royal family.
* King Bansah, a King of several tribes from Ghana works in a automobile repair shop in Germany. (Note: He also worked there before he became king. He became king because after the death of his precedessor, he was the only one of his family who could become the king according to law. So, this is also partly UnexpectedInheritance. After he became king, he wanted to continue the life as a common, and so, he stayed in Germany living a normal life while doing his work as a king.)
* Prince Harry, younger son of Charles and Diana, once came as close to this trope as he could ever get in this day and age by participating in a "homeless for a day" event with a load of other volunteers. The half-dozen [=MIBs=] loitering at a discreet distance probably didn't improve the already dubious authenticity of the stunt.
** He's somewhat more successful at this in his Army career, given that everyone in a helmet and camoflage looks the same.
*** One newspaper revealed the secret of where one of the Princes was serving, and was harshly criticized by people who pointed out that not only were they putting his life at risk, but they were also risking the lives of the other people in his unit. And, in fact, [[http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2445326/Prince-Harry-Taliban-murder-plot-revealed-tried-capture-kill-royal-Afghanistan.html Harry was a priority target]]. They somewhat remedied this by making him a helicopter pilot. Since helicopters are high-priority targets regardless, it didn't matter at all if the guy piloting it was royalty or not.
* Doing this can have embarrassing results. During a visit to the theatre in the 1920s, King Alfonso XIII of Spain was unceremoniously pushed aside by a deputy mayor's bodyguard that didn't recognize him. One can only imagine his face when he got told.
* Alfonso XIII's grandson, King Juan Carlos I of Spain, likes to motorbike incognito around the Spanish countryside.[[note]]He's not king anymore, having abdicated in favor of his son for a nice retirement.[[/note]] There are several UrbanLegends about His Majesty bringing fuel to fellow bikers who'd run out on lonely roads.
* In 1755, UsefulNotes/FrederickTheGreat of Prussia travelled to the Netherlands pretending to be a musician of the king of Poland. He was not recognized by Swiss student Henri de Catt, who was quite surprised to be invited to the court in Potsdam and asked to serve as reader to the king.
* It was not uncommon for monarchs to travel under an "official incognito" that everybody knew in order to forego elaborate and time-consuming ceremonies, calling-out of guards of honour etc. Czar Alexander I of Russia for instance travelled as the Comte du Nord (Count of the North, since Russia at the time was seen as the great Northern, not Eastern power), while Prussian kings would go as the Count of Ruppin (actually one of their many lesser titles). [[HolyRomanEmpire Holy Roman Emperor]] Joseph II travelled abroad as Count von Falkenstein.
** Similar things are done in some military units, particularly in Special Operations. The commanding officer of a larger military unit may receive a visit from his "father" or "brother", and the CO will treat his "father" or "brother" to a tour of the base. Of course, the "relative" is actually a senior officer or high-ranking civilian official, and, as in above, the masquerade is done to streamline the visit from the ceremony required by a senior officer or high-ranking civilian official visiting, particularly if the unit's mission(or very existence) is classified.
* Certain celebrities, particularly those in British Indie music, can pass pretty much unnoticed in public, as from a distance they look like anyone else (short hair, plain clothes etc). It is not uncommon for fans of the band to not notice them until realising a sort while later who it was. Conversely, world famous people with a distinctive appearance (e.g. the late Michael Jackson) have been seen in public with very conspicuous disguises that make them more noticeable than if they went out plain clothed.
** A lot of celebrities do this, for various reasons (comfort in their personal life compared to the sometimes painful high-fashion looks they frequently wear, hiding from the paparazzi, etc.,) can sometimes dress not just simply, but often kinda shabby. It's led to the joke that sometimes people who are poor often dress beyond their means to look wealthy, whereas the rich and famous, by contrast, will dress like they're homeless.
* Supposedly, when Dolly Parton wants to make sure Dollywood is being run the way she likes at ground level, she goes out without makeup and wearing a muumuu.
* Sultan Alauddin Riayat Shah (1477-1488) of Malacca was famous for [[RoyalsWhoActuallyDoSomething regularly going undercover at night to check on the well-being of his people]]. He was even rumored to have once chased after a thief on one such occasion.
* Creator/WaltDisney was in [[Ride/DisneyThemeParks Disneyland]] at least once a week disguised as a tourist to check out the park and make sure everything was working smoothly. Despite the fact that he hosted [[WaltDisneyPresents a TV show]], [[ClarkKenting apparently nobody recognized him once he put on a Hawaiian shirt and sunglasses]]. When he hired Disneyland's upper management, he made it clear that he didn't want them sitting behind desks all day--he wanted them in the park, riding the rides, eating the food, and talking with guests about how their day is going.
* A Belgian monarch is reported to have attended a performance of Le Petomane, a flatulist, incognito at Paris' Moulin Rouge.
* Emperor Akihito of Japan has a vacation home in Nagano prefecture and has been known to visit local farmers incognito to buy fresh produce.
* Secret shoppers at retail chains are a form of this.
* More recently, the [[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bBXV-LXzeig Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg played taxi driver for a Friday]].
-->'''One passenger''': When I see you from behind, you look a lot like Stoltenberg.
* [[ThePope Pope Francis]] has been known to go out at night dressed as a parish priest and help the needy and homeless.
* Benito Mussolini tried this while attempting to escape into the Alps, he disguised himself as a private, although he left his striped General's trousers uncovered. However at Dongo he was arrested by Partisans and hanged.
* A jackass version of the trope on par with Nero's above, was practiced by Philip IV of Spain, who would dress like a commoner and sneak into nobles' houses ''to sleep with their wives''. Most were aware of that, but pretended not to, to not get in trouble with him. This worked until one day, when one noble actually didn't like the idea, and instead grabbed a cane and hit the king until he run him out of his home, acting like he had not recognized him and treating him like he would with a common burglar. The king never tried to identify himself during the incident, nor took any action against the noble. Recognizing that he was sleeping with his subjects' wives was more shameful than actually doing it.
* After participating in a ''Series/GameOfThrones'' panel at the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con, Actor/MaisieWilliams (Arya Stark) later joined the crowd at Comic-Con, wearing a ComicBook/SpiderMan mask [[http://www.buzzfeed.com/elliewoodward/maisie-williams-managed-to-go-unnoticed-at-comic-con-thanks#4bx3ssm so she could tour the convention floor without being recognized.]] Creator/MattSmith did the same with a [[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons Bart Simpson]] mask.
** [[Series/BreakingBad Bryan Cranston]] once did the same wearing a [[http://i.imgur.com/laxAukC.png photo-realistic Walter White mask]].
[[/folder]]
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