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Princess Classic
"One gift, beauty rare, Gold of sunshine in her hair,
Lips that shame the red, red rose,
She'll walk with springtime wherever she goes."

When we think of a Princess, the most common association is the archetypical princess, the perfectly good, innocent, and beautiful princess, who is practically a saint with a royal title. These are largely associated with Fairy Tales, and are considered to be as old as those types of stories.

Actually, this character started in the Victorian Era. In that time when stories were being shaped by Disneyfication and Bowdlerization, the concept of Courtly Love was warped to take all the sexual Sub Text out, and turn the noble lady into an ideal of the times. All to provide only the most positive and uncomplicated image to children, and even adults as well.

Princess Classic has many general traits (the first two points are required):

Now changing values have eroded the idealism that this character represented. So even though this character has only slightly more credibility than the geocentric universe theory, she's not a Dead Horse Trope yet. She's still around in some fiction for really young children due to the Grandfather Clause. And even in everywhere else, there is still the belief that Everything's Better with Princesses.

Also, there is still the important fact that Tropes Are Tools, and this trope doesn't mean a princess must lack Character Depth. She can still be well-rounded while having some of these traits.

One the other hand, some girls who grew up on this trope apply some of the above traits to their Fan Fiction, meaning a lot of the traits of this character match the traits of a Purity Sue. Heck, mix and match this trope with being better than everyone else at their skills, and with suddenly being the Spotlight-Stealing Squad, and there you have the archetypal Mary Sue.

These days, if she's played straight in a story, it's highly unlikely for that story to be taken seriously. Most writers would give her some flaws, some depth. She could be sheltered and demure, but not a Flat Character.

Also, being ground zero for any Princess Tropes, she can get an upgrade to Badass Princess if the story requires her to (and can even overlap with Kicking Ass in All Her Finery). Likely to browbeat Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers! into any Grumpy Bear she finds.

A Sister Trope to Yamato Nadeshiko, The Ingenue, Proper Lady, (those two are also archetypes built of idealistic views), Southern Belle, The Pollyanna, The High Queen, Sheltered Aristocrat, Prince Charming (the latter two being her Spear Counterparts).

Compare Idle Rich, Parasol of Prettiness, Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date.

Contrast Tomboy Princess, Rebellious Princess, Lady of War, Badass Princess, Royal Brat, Politically-Active Princess, Daddy's Little Villain.

Examples

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    Anime and Manga 

    Film - Animation 

    Film - Live Action 
  • Sara Crewe in the movie versions of A Little Princess is about as close as this trope gets without any actual royalty. But in the book she isn't sweetness and light. Part of why she is disliked is because of her ability to make adults uncomfortable by standing up for herself. Unfortunately, the Shirley Temple version completely destroys what made the character great, while adding in an inability to face reality. Whereas in the book she is remarkably competent and tough for her age. The 90s version seems to fix that though.
  • Enchanted: Giselle is a spoof of this, but a loving spoof, in that Giselle is determined against all odds to make the best of her situation.
  • The titular mouse in The Tale of Despereaux searches for and finds one of these in the beautiful but useless Princess Pea.
  • The princess of Snow White and the Three Stooges. Her first scene shows her sweet as a little girl and sweet as a young woman, both in different white skating dresses trimmed with ermine.
  • Lyssa from Krull, who rebukes the advances of The Beast, holding faith in The Power of Love, which does bear out, although ultimately in a pretty violent way.
  • Princess Lili from Legend starts out as a quintessential Princess Classic, only to go through a Break the Cutie process, accumulating in an intense case of Corrupt the Cutie, only for this to be revealed as a ruse she put on in order to trick Darkness into letting her get close enough to free a captured unicorn.

    Literature 
  • George Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • Princess Classic was what Sansa Stark always aspired to be. Sansa lives in a Crapsack World. You can guess where this is headed.
    • Dany is also a deconstruction; she starts out an impoverished Princess Classic, but then loses a great deal of her innocence (including her virginity) when she's sold as a wife to Khal Drogo, swaps the violet silks for painted leather, learns to ride and rule like a Mongol warlord, loses her husband, has the woman who betrayed her burnt alive, hatches some dragons, creates a new army all on her own, handles multiple assassination attempts, faces down a house full of warlocks, gains a brand new army, burns down entire cities full of slavers, and eventually sets up shop with an army of freed slaves and starts ruling a city as an imposing empress, Daenerys Stormborn, Mother of Dragons.
    • Margaery Tyrell appears to be this... It's all an act, of course.
  • Also deconstructed in Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court, where Morgan realises the ladies are as rude and crude as the not-so-noble knights.
  • Princess Alexandra from A Hole in the World is this. She's also a lesbian. Her Prince Charming is a girl named Bianca.
  • In Xanth, Princess Irene was a Royal Brat. Her daughters, Ivy and Ida are straight examples.
  • The Lady Amalthea in The Last Unicorn acts like this as she loses her memories of being the last unicorn.
  • Averted in Mercedes Lackey's Valdemar books by Princess Elspeth, who starts off a Royal Brat and becomes a tomboy after she's broken of the brattishness. Eventually she abdicates her position as heir when it becomes obvious (to her, at least) that she'll serve her country better as a Herald-Mage than as its queen.
  • Belinda in The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope is certainly meant to reflect this trope. She's Spoiled Sweet - not any sort of royalty, but the Queen Bee of all the court she surveys, while still being friendly (and uncommitted) to everyone. That is, until a certain involuntary haircut happens...
  • Poked fun at in Angry Lead Skies, when Garrett ponders Kip Prose's childish fantasies about saving beautiful princesses, and how, despite having run into everything else on his weird cases, he's never met a Princess Classic. Near the end, Garrett does catch sight of two genuine royal daughters, and they're both quite unattractive, yet are praised and fawned upon constantly by political kiss-ups.
  • The Paper Bag Princess has Princess Elizabeth starts as this type of character, but becomes an Action Girl later on, especially when she finds that Prince Ronald is an Ungrateful Bastard.
  • Firebird Trilogy: Princess Carradee Angelo is gentle, honorable, sweet, and rather uninterested in politics. Unfortunately for her, as eldest, she is the heir to the throne, which leads to her being thrust into ruling before she is truly ready for it. She contrasts with her sisters Phoena, who is a Politically-Active Princess, and Firebird, who is a Badass Princess.
  • Played With in the tale of Vivenna and Siri from Warbreaker. Vivenna was raised as a Princess Classic but ended up getting pushed into a Badass Princess role, while her Rebellious Princess sister Siri ended up in the Princess Classic slot. Both do excellently in their new role.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Used in the most famous Halloween episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy dresses up as one of these on the Halloween when Ethan Rayne conjures up a spell that causes her and all of her friends to get turned into their costumes. So Willow, who dressed as a ghost, becomes a ghost and Xander, who dressed as an Army Guy, becomes an actual Army Guy. Ethan lucked out when she chose the Princess costume: the powerful Slayer becomes a simpering, helpless bundle of nerves and snobbery.
  • Played with on Merlin with the portrayal of Princess Mithian. Characterized as the embodiment of a Princess Classic, she's genuinely lovely, as well as beautiful, royal, elegant, talented and with an extensive wardrobe of gorgeous outfits; yet it's all done in order to provide more impact to the fact that King Arthur turns her down for the sake of the blacksmith's daughter.
  • Princess Ariadne from Atlantis, though she gets a bit more spunk than this trope usually implies.
  • Queen Anne from The Musketeers may technically be a queen (and occasionally passes into The High Queen territory) but for the most part embodies all the traits of a Princess Classic instead.

    Music 
  • Fairytale imagery featured on Taylor Swift's second album, Fearless. She explored the disconnect "between fairy tales and the reality of love": "We're raised as little girls to think that we're a princess and that Prince Charming is going to sweep us off our feet". Seen in "Love Story", "White Horse", and "Today Was A Fairy-Tale".

    Video Games 

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Debatable if there are actual examples in Real Life (that weren't this from being sheltered and not taught about the world), but Queen Victoria of England did her best to make royal ladies appear to be that way. To the point of the Urban Legend of noble women being advised to "Close your eyes and think of England".
  • On the subject of Saints with a royal title, Saint Catherine of Alexandria provides a very early example of this trope (her name even comes from "Katharos", the Greek word meaning "pure"!. It is a somewhat unusual one, however, as the virgin princess is wed to Jesus Christ in mystic marriage (ie. a dream-vision) and chooses martyrdom rather than betraying her vows to Him!

Morally Ambiguous DoctorateMeaningful TitlesThe Professor
The PratfallOlder Than RadioRace Against the Clock
Politically-Active PrincessPrincess TropesPrincess in Rags
Prince CharmingArchetypal CharacterA Protagonist Shall Lead Them
Pink Means FeminineFemininity TropesPrincess Phase
Placebotinum EffectJustForFun/TropemanteauPsycho Electric Eel
Pregnant HostageAlways FemalePrincess Phase
Everything's Better with PrincessesGender Dynamics IndexFeminine Women Can Cook
Pink Means FeminineGirly GirlPrincess Phase
One-Winged AngelImageSource/Animated FilmsSnow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Pregnant HostageWomen Are DelicatePrincess Phase
LalaloopsyFunny/Western Animation    
The PollyannaPurity PersonifiedOnly the Pure of Heart

alternative title(s): Stock Princess; Ermine Cape Princess
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