The prince went to meet her, took her by the hand and danced with her. He would dance with no other maiden, and never left loose of her hand, and if any one else came to invite her, he said, "This is my partner."
Ground zero for all Princely Tropes
He's an aristocrat
with a magnetic personality
, probably dashing, brave, gallant, and kind, a true prince. In Fairy Tales
, he often rescues the Damsel in Distress
and marries her to live Happily Ever After
. If he's saving himself for his true princess
he'll be her Celibate Hero
but if he's more interested in impressing the ladies with his father's money
, he's a Millionaire Playboy
Except, actually, all the princes in those tales were very seldom named. It was simply a "prince" or "king" or royalty
of some sort. And when they did have names, they were genuine, even commonplace, names: John, Ivan, Jean, Hans, etc.
The term Prince Charming
actually originates from an 1889 translation of Le roi Charmant
, the Charming King, and then a year later the phrase "Prince Charming" was used in The Picture of Dorian Gray
The term stuck.
Nowadays, the classic Prince Charming
is almost never used
, possibly because the Ruritanias
which he often hailed from have largely abandoned monarchy, or joined the EU. The trope has been subverted, double subverted, inverted, averted, diverted, converted, and perverted (and ridiculed, but that's nothing to be scared of). Nowadays, the Prince is often Prince Charmless
— a Jerkass
, Smug Snake
, or downright evil
. Possibly, he'll be naive
It's only the rarest of instances where he can be played straight and done right. And under those circumstances he will be given his own name, and not called Prince Charming. "Prince Charming" is guaranteed to be a subversion. When he does have charm he can be found practicing Old-School Chivalry
When not referring to a royal prince, the concept refers to a young man with the charm of a rich boy. Contrast the bad boy charm of All Girls Want Bad Boys
The Spear Counterpart
to Princess Classic
Compare The Wise Prince
, Knight In Shining Armour
. Subject to the Ermine Cape Effect
In terms of the ranks of Authority Tropes
, the tropes that are equal are The Evil Prince
, Prince Charmless
, Warrior Prince
, Sheltered Aristocrat
, The Wise Prince
, and all Princess Tropes
. The next steps down are The Caligula
, The Good Chancellor
, Standard Royal Court
and Deadly Decadent Court
. The next steps up are The Good King
, God Save Us from the Queen!
, The High Queen
, and The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask
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Anime and Manga
- In Candy Candy, there is the mysterious "Prince from the Hill", a handsome young man dressed in a kilt, who makes Candy smile again when she was sad, and then vanishes in the into thin air, leaving only pendant with a small bell as the only evidence of his existence. In the last episode of the series is finally revealed that the prince was Albert, who was also Candy´s Mysterious Protector "Uncle" William. Anthony (From the same series) also may count. In fact, the first time Candy meets Anthony, she thought that he was her "Prince from the Hill" since both had a similar appearence and personality.
- James of Pokémon's Team Rocket has shades of this, with a little Gentleman Thief for good measure. Given that he's from a rich, affluent family, it sort of fits.
- Negima! has Fate, playing it straight just to make Negi jealous.
- In A Certain Scientific Railgun, Misaki Shokohou comments that whenever Touma Kamijou saves people, he looks like a gallant prince.
- In Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, the Drama Club often makes drama featuring characters of this type, usually cross cast by Kashima. Her participation in this kind of role earns her epithet, "the Prince of the School."
- Bill Willingham's comic book Fables (about characters from fairy tales living in secret in New York) has Prince Charming, who was married three times, to Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and Cinderella. He's a bit of a Magnificent Bastard and eventually becomes Mayor of Fabletown.
- The Queen of Fables thinks that Superman is Prince Charming and wants to either kill him or marry him. Maybe both. Given his nature, it's understandable that the delusional Queen would make this mistake.
- Loki suggests that Hulkling of the Young Avengers is really this, having been created by his boyfriend Wiccan's Reality Warper powers to subconsciously fulfil his fantasy of meeting and falling in love with this type of character. He points out the improbability of a gay teenage boy meeting, and perfectly matching, a gay alien prince. Of course, this is coming from Loki, and both Hulkling and Wiccan were listed as part of the Avengers Fail-Safe Program, being descendants of prior members of The Avengers. Teammate Prodigy dismisses the whole matter as "existential nonsense".
Films — Animated
- Even though the Disney Animated Canon movies never used the name Prince Charming, the princes in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty are often referred to as such. Snow White's prince is simply "The Prince", although she does refer to him as being charming. Sleeping Beauty's prince is the only one given a real name, Prince Phillip. Later merchandise and such identifies "Prince Charming" specifically as Cinderella's prince, though in the film he's only ever referred to as "The Prince" or "The Noble Prince". It should be noted that in Snow White and Cinderella the prince does little more than show up and be royal, while Phillip due to his extended screen time comes the closest to actually portraying this trope.
- Eric from The Little Mermaid (1989) is one of the last examples of this trope being played straight in Western media. Notably, unlike the Princes from Sleeping Beauty or Snow White, he is a well-developed character.
- In light of the above, the Princes in future Disney films play with this trope in various forms. They can be refusing their royal duties (Simba), be jerks at first (though later become better) (Beast, Kuzco, Naveen), actually start off as commoners who reach their role as prince through marriage (Aladdin, Flynn Rider), or even be the Big Bad (Hans)
- Likewise subverted in The Princess and the Frog with Prince Naveen. He may appear charming but he's really just a womanising Man Child - and his parents have just cut him off.
- Inverted in the Shrek sequels, as Prince Charming is vain, selfish, a sissy coward and in Shrek the Third, arguably evil.
Films — Live-Action
- Prince Edward from Enchanted is Prince Charming Played for Laughs. He's good-natured, handsome, and heroic, but he's kind of thick. And it turns out he's not the right man for Giselle—but when he realizes this, he gallantly steps aside for her true prince.
- While Snow White and the Three Stooges almost squandered the leads, the prince had a greatly expanded role compared to the actual fairy tale.
- Played straight in Prince Charming a 2001 made-for-television film starring Sean Maguire is the story of a prince who gets turned into a frog because he dashingly rescues a damsel in distress who starts trying to reward him.
- Played straight in the movie The Prince And Me as Prince Edvard goes from having a girl on each arm to "Eddie" who quotes William Shakespeare like some duke-lord guy.
- Kate and Leopold has Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany who writes the best apology letter in the history of mankind.
- In the Czech movie Byl jednou jeden král (Once upon a time there was a king, an adaptation of the fairy tale Salt over gold) there are three princes who came to the kingdom as suitors for the three princesses: Prince Charming note , Prince Valiant, and Prince Cunning. They are all braggarts and cowards, and eventually they help themselves to the royal treasure - while the three princesses, as well as the king himself, get married to commoners in the end.
- Mirror, Mirror is one of the very few modern movies based on fairy tales which play this trope almost completely straight with Andrew Alcott, a character with most of the usual Prince Charming traits.
- Subverted in Snow White & the Huntsman as the prince has become an Action Survivor due to the queen's tyrannical rule. He also becomes an Unlucky Childhood Friend to Snow White - but is still presented as a good guy.
- Played with in A Brother's Price: Prince Alannon was a dignified, quiet-spoken man, who was very handsome and liked to take regular baths. Very charming. However, his marriage to the protagonist's grandmothers came about not by him rescuing one of them, but by his being kidnapped by them. He eventually seems to have consented to marry them, which is not such a big surprise considering that the best he could have hoped for would have been an Arranged Marriage, anyway. And they did build him a bathhouse.
- Given how soon it was written after the term originated, The Picture of Dorian Gray is likely one of the first subversions. Dorian is called this by extremely naive actress Sybil who he seduces and abandons, driving to suicide. Another lover also apparently called him this, and uses the nickname scornfully when he encounters her several years later as a prostitute.
- Ella Enchanted exaggerates this. The prince's name is Charmont, which is sorta like Charming and borders on charmant, which is French for "charming" and comes from the Fairy Tale "The Blue Bird" where the hero was called Le Roi Charmant ("the charming king"). He prefers to be called Char, though.
- John Moore's Slay and Rescue has a professional hero who really is a prince named Charming, sent by his father's chancellor to rescue fair maidens all over the place (the theory is that it keeps him too busy to try to take over the throne). He's Genre Savvy, deliberately pulls Big Damn Heroes arrivals, has Implausible Fencing Powers, and is very frustrated. Nonetheless, he's also basically decent.
- Does he ride a white horse?
- Deconstructed by Prince Joffrey Baratheon, who is the hideous lovechild of Caligula and Azula (without the strategic genius), and Ser Jaime Lannister, who is, initially, ruthless, arrogant and amoral.
- Oddly enough, this story also plays this trope strait in his younger brother. Prince Tommen, based on what we know about him, is genuinely kind and has proven to have been a much better ruler than Joffery ever was. Sansa even says she would have preferred to have married Tommen.
- The likes of Rhaegar Targaryen whose love for a woman he was not betrothed to incited Robert's Rebellion and the Wrong Genre Savvy Quentyn Martell.
- In Terry Pratchett's Unseen Academicals, Glenda objects to Trev as Juliet's love because Juliet is special and all she needed was a prince — and she remembers her own fantasies. Juliet and Trev do end up together, and Glenda ends up with a king to be.
- Justified in the contemporary book Dream Boy written by Ann Reit, which stars a charming, but immature teenager who learned it from his father.
- Played straight with Prince Jonathan of Tortall in Song of the Lioness who is a lover and a fighter. And oh boy is he a lover - right up until he meets Thayet, anyway, and she steals his heart and his ability to speak in all of ten seconds.
- Played straight in The Royal Diaries.
- Elisabeth: The Princess Bride where Emperor Franz Joseph I was able to win over Elisabeth because she considered him to be playful, considerate and charming.
- Also in Isabel: Jewel of Castilla where it takes less than two hours for Fernando, Prince of Aragon and King of Sicily, to steal the princess's heart with his humor, authority and imagination.
- Prince Kai from Cinder.
- The Hero's Guide To Saving Your Kingdom by Chris Healy takes this trope and runs all over the map with it. The princes of four different fairy tales (Cinderella, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty and Snow White) get the short end of the stick when their stories are popularized because everyone remembers the princesses' names, but their names (Fredrick, Gustav, Liam and Duncan respectively) are lost and are just called "Charming", even though all four are radically different people. They eventually team up and become a league of Princes Charming.
- Ultra Fast Pony inverts this without invoking Prince Charmless. Prince Blueblood is handsome royalty and a perfect gentlestallion. Unfortunately, the heroine Rarity has a mile-wide masochistic streak, so she wants a prince who will boss her around and hurt her. Rarity loses interest in Prince Blueblood because he's too nice.
- Gil from Girl Genius is a kind of reconstruction. The Prince Charming has often been deconstructed by making him (the heir of) a tyrant. But Gil is very good at arguing his father is the most enlightened despot in the continent, and he's probably right. Also, Gil is beautiful, the ultimate warrior, Always Save the Girl... He just fails for the romantic side.
- In Sinfest, Baby Blue is displeased with Happily Ever After so she declares Prince Charming really cheated on her so she killed him in his sleep.
- The Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Frankie, My Dear" has a Prince Charming imaginary friend. He is indeed handsome, charming, romantic—and smitten with Frankie Foster. Frankie tells him that she outgrew his type years ago, but don't worry, Friends like him get snatched up by little girls in no time.
- At the end of the first My Little Pony TV special,Scorpan is revealed to be one.
- Prince Gumball from the Adventure Time gender-swapped episodes seems to be this (At least for what can be seen in his only two apparitions in the series) There is also Prince Huge from the episode "The Hard Easy"