The Wise Prince
aka: The Wise Princess
The Wise Prince is an example of the non evil Aristocrat. He's kind, honorable and well-intentioned, but with an aura of sadness and melancholy surrounding him. His biggest priority is the protection of his people, and, unlike the pampered Sheltered Aristocrat, fully understands the hardship of an unprivileged life. He is usually a good warrior, but doesn't like fighting. He's often short of being an All-Loving Hero, but doesn't always live in the right Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism for it. If he doesn't, his disillusioned gallantry can be just as poignant. You'd think he'd make a perfect leader for his people, of course, but fate is particularly skilled at screwing him over in some way or another. If he does reign he feels his responsibilities perhaps too keenly. He might start out being the Rebel Prince or Sheltered Aristocrat. The Evil Prince is his opposite (and sometimes his brother). See also The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask. Often the son of the Fisher King, who has gone away and left his people in disarray. Unlike other aristocrats, the Wise Prince must typically journey somewhere, which will hopefully culminate in the Rightful King Returns. If successful, expect the Wise Prince to rule long and happily as The Good King. In terms of the ranks of Authority Tropes, the tropes that are equal are The Evil Prince, Prince Charming, Prince Charmless, Warrior 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
- Ashitaka in Princess Mononoke. Bonus points for being exiled.
- Shouryuu in The Twelve Kingdoms during the flashbacks in Japan. He doesn't fit as much as the character type after while.
- Hotohori from Fushigi Yuugi is very much this, although he is a king.
- Mytho from Princess Tutu is very much this...Or rather, he would be if his heart wasn't literally shattered into itty bitty pieces. Drosselmeyer lampshades the Subversion
Drosselmeyer: If you're the prince, you have to use your wisdom and courage to...Oh. I knew something was missing.
- Prince Kail from Red River lives and breathes this trope to almost Marty Stu levels despite being the 3rd in line to the throne he eventually gets to be King
- The over-enthusiastic Prince Phillionel, father of Amelia from Slayers, seems idiotic because of his tendency to rush into battle in the hammiest way possible, but he's far smarter than Lina and co. give him credit for. Faking his own death to prevent his people from panicking over an assassination attempt, for one, along with bravely standing ground and leading the kingdom of Saillune through Zanaffar's assault during the Slayers Revolution anime. His desire for journeying across the lands to fight presumably influenced Amelia in both being kind and modest in austere settings.
- Prince Sagum of Seirei no Moribito but only in the anime, not in the book. He's dutiful, intelligent, gentle and friendly but finds he lacks his brother's ability to capture everyone's heart and he's obviously dying. Prince Chagum starts as a Sheltered Aristocrat, but developes to this over time.
- Revolutionary Girl Utena deconstructed the hell out of this trope in Dios, who was once The Wise Prince but ends up as Akio, The Chessmaster and Big Bad
- Kuchiki Byakuya from Bleach is a slightly colder variation to this trope.
- All princes in Code Geass try their best to look like this but arguably only Ulysses really means it. Ironic, seeing how he is the heir apparent and never ascends to the throne. The rest of the princes fall somewhere between The Evil Prince and The Anti-Hero Prince.
- Except that Ulysses isn't "wise" he's more of a naive idiot, this guy thought Lelouch talking about killing the Emperor was a joke when he clearly meant it.
- Female example: Princess Zelda fits most aspects of the trope in some installments of the The Legend of Zelda manga, most particularly The Legend of Zelda: Four Swords Plus.
- Post-Heel-Face Turn, Gaara from Naruto has grown into this disposition after years of being Sunagakure's Fifth Kazekage, to the point that he's far more rational and composed than his fellow and older Kages.
- Kimba the White Lion has most of these character traits.
- Shi Ryuuki from Saiunkoku Monogatari matures to this over time, as he faces his responsibilities as The Emperor.
- Joshua Grant, heir to the throne of Loreto, in Marginal Prince - he's modest, gentle and his school's Student Council President to boot. It gets somewhat deconstructed, however, as he is in conflict with Loreto's royal family and spends most of the time being torn between following his personal wishes and dreams, and fulfilling his role as the currently last member of the royal bloodline. At the end, he declines the crown.
- Despite being somewhat unconventional, Veronica of Bokura no Kiseki qualifies as a female version of this. While she didn't seem to have a lot of political power - her having elder brothers that are ahead of her in line for the throne are vaguely alluded to, her marriage is decided for her - she's shown to be responsible and intelligent, with a firm conviction to protect the people living under her care. Her regret over her failure to do so seems to have carried over to her Reincarnation, Harusumi. Zeze theorizes that's why he's so obsessed with protecting their school.
- The dwarven noble protagonist in Dragon Age: The Crown Of Thorns, being a Guile Hero, Determinator and A Father to His Men (however briefly he got the chance to lead his troops) definitely qualifies. Nevertheless, the really surprising fact here is that Trian Aeducan turns into this as well, eventually.
- Similarly (but gender-flipped) to the above example, Elissa Cousland in Shadow And Rose has many of the trope's attributes as described by narrator Alistair.
- Gwydion from Lloyd Alexander's Prydain Chronicles, though he doesn't fit some of the later bits.
- Also Adaon in The Black Cauldron .
- Lir from Peter S. Beagle's The Last Unicorn, after he's changed by having been in love with Amalthea.
- Prince Tryffin in Teresa Edgerton's second Celydonn trilogy, since he learned something from the events of the first trilogy.
- Andovan in Celia Friedman's Feast of Souls.
- Fitzchivalry's father Chivalry in Robin Hobb's Farseer trilogy apparently was one.
- Verity also qualifies, and possibly Prince Rurisk, who appears briefly in the first book, but Regal is definitely The Evil Prince.
- Verity's son Dutiful in the Tawny Man trilogy takes after his father.
- Kings Caspian and Tirian in The Chronicles of Narnia. Also, King Rilian once he's rescued and succeeds Caspian
- Targaryen rulers in A Song of Ice and Fire tend to be either The Wise Prince or The Caligula. Several examples of the former are:
- Prince Rhaegar Targaryen is remembered like this by many.
- In the prequel Tales of Dunk and Egg stories, we see this with Baelor "Breakspear" Targaryen.
- In A Dance With Dragons, we find that Varys planned to deliberately engineer the long-lost Aegon into one of these.
- Cuneglas in The Warlord Chronicles. The most level headed character in the main cast, the nicest by a long way. With the fairly pessimistic nature of the series, the one time he loses his head, he dies in a duel.
- Cei in Here Lies Arthur by Philip Reeve.
- The Little Prince is an interesting case of this, since the only person under his command is a flower, and while he knows a lot about life in the sky, he's rather inexperienced outside of his kingdom. He does hit the melancholy, kind, honourable, and well-intentioned markers face first, and his inexperience is minimal compared to the various adults.
- Lord Peter Wimsey may qualify. He's just a noble, not royal, but he's responsible, intelligent, and has shell-shock from World War I and general doubts of self-worth to give him the air of melancholy.
- Prince Ragoth, youngest son of the Taysan Empress in the Spaceforce novels, is an effective diplomat. In the second book, he displays a certain degree of grace under fire when kidnapped by terrorists - in the third, he reappears and is instrumental in securing Ashlenn asylum with the Union.
- Faramir in Lord of the Rings. Not so much in the movie adaptation.
- Prince Edward the Black Prince of England is portrayed this way in the Dragon Knight series.
- Prince Josua Lackhand from Memory, Sorrow and Thorn. He turns out to not be the king's son after all. He's also presumed dead and thrilled to get off the hook of kingship. Simon presumably takes after Josua in this respect too.
- Highprince Dalinar Kholin in The Stormlight Archive is a fairly cynical one, whose time is spent doubting and wondering through most of the first book until he decides to start doing something near the end.
- Felin from The Dreams of Jonathan Jabbok.
- Terem Rathai from The Assassins of Tamurin.
- Prince/King Helmos from the The Sovereign Stone trilogy.
- Prince/King Gar from Kingmaker, Kingbreaker.
- Prince Arutha of Krondor from The Riftwar Cycle.
- During a brief period of unclear succession when it's unclear whether Arutha or his elder brother will become king, another character notes that men would gladly die for Lyam but Arutha would manage to save them. Lyam becomes king, but as Prince Arutha still effectively rules half the kingdom and fits the name of the trope literally.
- Gorath, though only appearing in a single book, and belonging to the more or less Always Chaotic Evil race of moredhel (dark elves), fits the trope perfectly, complete with having a driving motivation to have his people become "more than savages", as he puts it, and being exiled, branded a traitor and being abandoned or targeted for death even by family and kin, when he tries to act for the good of his people.
- Pietro Della Rocca from Alain Damasio's La Horde du Contrevent.
- Almost every single good noble in Tamora Pierce's Tortall Universe series is like this. It's to the point where expressing any disdain for peasants is a usually a clear sign that someone's a villain. (At least until Provost's Dog, whose commoner protagonist has to deal with a lot of classists who are annoying but not evil.) Jon is the standout in Song of the Lioness.
- Gwerbret Rhodry Maelwadd in the Deverry series has this at the beginning and the end of his reign (the time he's actually reigning was enjoyable, but it's completely passed by in the books). King Glyn the First also had these sentiments.
- Rand al'Thor in The Wheel of Time is often accused of arrogance, but considering how many powers he has gathered to himself personally and to his title as the Dragon Reborn, much of this is really a wise confidence. This wisdom derails itself more than a little when he begins to go insane from the taint on the source of magic in the books. He gets better, though, later on and becomes this trope full-bore along with a healthy does of All-Loving Hero.
- Tavi, from the Codex Alera series.
- Also, Gaius Septimus, by all reports.
- Prince Raschid in the furry novel The Fangs of Kaath. He's a kindhearted Badass Bookworm in an Arabian court.
- King Randale in the Heralds of Valdemar novels... a case of massive in-universe Character Development which also turned an uncertain, hesitant young man who didn't even want the throne into a Determinator.
- Prince Daren is a mild example. He even marries The High Queen.
- Prince Eneas of Syan from Shadowmarch series definitely qualifies.
- Marie Antoinette in The Bad Queen tries to invoke wisdom in her daughter Marie-Therese and help her gain a more realistic and compassionate view of the world by making the orphaned daughter of a servant the princess's companion who gets to share in all privileges the royal child does.
- Jack's (dead) twinner in The Talisman. Since they're basically the same person, this also applies to Jack himself once the Territories has had its effect on him.
- Prince Maxon in The Selection, crossed with a Sheltered Aristocrat.
- Prince Arslan in The Heroic Legend of Arslan.
- Hector is the Ur Example in The Iliad.
Live Action Television
- A female version occurs in Farscape. Princess Katralla, thanks to her brother poisoning her DNA, can never marry the Sebacean man she loves. Since Crichton is the only man who can produce healthy heirs with her (and marriage to a compatible man is a prerequisite of becoming Empress), she chooses to marry him and give up the chance for happiness with her true love. Things work out eventually, though.
- The 2012 BBC version of Henry V turns Henry into something like this. He starts out rather fresh-faced and dashing, but becomes increasingly worn down by the weight of his decisions. He's depicted as a brave but sometimes unsure leader who is very earnestly trying to do the right thing by his people. Then he dies.
- Most main Characters Fire Emblem fit this trope quite well. Examples include: Marth, Sigurd, Celice, Leaf, Roy, Eliwood, Ephraim, Eirika (Female Example)...
- Sigurd from the fourth game... he's an example of what can happen to these kinds of characters on the wrong end of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.
- Female example: Elincia from FE 9/10 (It's also notable, that the main character of those games, Ike, is not a noble in the least and hates the idea of being nobility).
- Funnily enough, Pelleas in FE 10 fits the given description of a Wise Prince to a tee: kind, honorable, well-intentioned, and all the rest... but he is also foolish and naive. And, like Sigurd...
- Prince Yumil from Ogre Battle 64 is one of these, complete with Evil Prince brother until he gets possessed by Danika and goes crazy, at least
- Prince Freyjadour "Frey"/Faroush/Ardil Falenas, the main character in Suikoden V, fights to protect (ahem) "the crown [he] will never wear," as Falena is a Queendom. That means his little sister will be the lady in charge one day, despite the fact that everyone around the Prince says he'd be an insightful and beneficent leader. The player first catches up with the Prince after his mother sent him on an errand just so he could see real suffering; Konami might well have written the character with this Trope in mind.
- Prince (later King) Garr/Woodrow Kelvin of Tales of Destiny.
- Ky Kiske from Guilty Gear fits this trope to a tea. He just skipped the prince part on his way to a king.
- Prince Rurik of Ascalon in Guild Wars: Prophecies.
- Female example with the titular princess from The Legend of Zelda. Kind, honorable, melancholy, and warrior. And, of course, bearer of the Triforce of Wisdom.
- Prince Roland from Heroes of Might and Magic II: The Succession Wars, who had his throne stolen by The Evil Prince Archibald, so he set up a government-in-exile on the other side of the country and retook his kingdom one city at a time, showed equal parts weariness and incorruptibility in his orders to the player.
- Though not a prince, Admiral Carth Onasi in Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II strongly resembles this trope.
- If you follow a light-side female path with Mical, it's implied that he becomes this for the rebuilt Jedi Order.
- Kael'thas Sunstrider, last Prince of Quel'Thalas, fit this trope to a tee in Warcraft III: The Frozen Throne. Not so much in World of Warcraft.
- In more recent times, starting with the tie-in novel "The Shattering", Prince Anduin Wrynn of Stormwind has become this.
- Someone at Blizzard must really like this trope, since Arcturus Mengsk's son Valerian, originally a novel character who went on to play a big role in Starcraft II, has many of the same traits. He learned statecraft and strength from his father and the Dominion, but compassion and honor from his mother in the Umojan Protectorate. Over the course of Wings of Liberty, he quasi-officially joins up with James Raynor's rebellion, expressing dismay and outrage at Arcturus's brutality and lust for power, and winds up cutting ties with his father. Heart of the Swarm begins with him openly collaborating with Raynor, Kerrigan, and the Umojans and he is in line to take power when Arcturus is killed by Kerrigan at the end of the campaign.
- Depending on how you play them in Dragon Age: Origins, a Human Noble or Dwarf Noble Warden can fit this role.
- In Dragon Age II, Hawke can be played as one. While the rest of the nobles in Kirkwall seem to only care about petty political posturing, Hawke is the only one who actively does anything to make the city a better place and protect it from danger. Given how Hawke arrived in Kirkwall as a refugee, before reclaiming their family fortune, they understand what it's like to be on the lowest rung on the ladder.
- Although only the offspring of a noble and not a prince, a human Inquisitor can also be played this way in Dragon Age: Inquisition.
- Alexander of Daventry does his best to play this role even though he still thinks of himself as Gwydion of Llewdor, the former slave of Manannan.
- In Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, Prince Amiti of Ayuthay joins your party as a Warrior Prince in hopes that the adventure and experience will make him a wiser prince. It works; he goes from being painfully naiive to being much more understanding... Insightful, even.
- Final Fantasy XII gives us Larsa Solidor, younger brother to Vayne Solidor and second in line to the Archadian throne. Throughout the game, he displays wisdom beyond his years, and in the end he takes the throne and uses his power to broker peace throughout Ivalice.
- Prince Suleiman, AKA Suleiman the Magnificent, as portrayed in Assassin's Creed: Revelations.
- In Tales of the Abyss, Emperor Peony straddles the line between this trope and Sheltered Aristocrat: which one he is seems to depend entirely on whether the current scene needs him to be serious about anything (because he's never serious unless his people need him to be).
- Princess Natalia develops into a female example after discovering that she isn't actually of royal blood, having been switched with the stillborn Natalia as an infant. Understandably overwhelmed by insecurity after discovering that her entire life has been a lie, she isn't able to talk her people out of protecting her because all they care about is how much good she's done for them, and eventually she reconciles with the king, who accepts her as his daughter despite their lack of blood relation. In the end, she's humbled and her resolve to do everything she can for her people is strengthened, to repay them for their faith in her.
- Prince Harald of Denmark from the Chaos Timeline, who (re-)discovers America.
- Prince Aikka of Ōban Star-Racers.
- Proteus from Sinbad Legend of the Seven Seas.
- Former Crown Prince Iroh of Avatar: The Last Airbender. And he spends the series trying to mold Prince Zuko into this, as well. He succeeds.
- Lion-O from ThunderCats (2011) with a twist. Most of the traits that make him The Wise Prince, namely curiosity about the world outside Thundera, an interest in the Lost Technology, and standing up for the mistreated Lizard Folk make his people think of him as in Inadequate Inheritor. By the time he finally does get a chance to shine and have these qualities appreciated, his father dies and he becomes the new King of Thundera and the Lord of Thundercats.
- King George VI was one of the best examples. He was quiet, shy, respectable, and would have preferred being a clerk to being a King. A general all round Action Survivor. He thought he was ill-suited to his job and was something of an Iron Woobie. But he provided still-renowned leadership during World War II and is, to this day, one of Britain's best-loved monarchs, perhaps because of those qualities rather than despite them; for it is easier to suffer blood, toil, tears, and sweat if one knows that the King is trying to as well. In a way he was The Caretaker to the entire British Empire.
- Now the subject of The King's Speech, a film about how he unexpectedly succeeded his unpopular (and German sympathist) brother and learned to overcome stuttering in order to preserve the monarchy During the War.
- It helps that he had beside him his own personal The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: it was his wife, Lady Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon - known today as the Queen Mum - who was his anchor and support throughout the abdication crisis and World War II. In fact, the 2002 film Bertie and Elizabeth is entirely centered around this.
- Lord Louis Mountbatten. He was one of the last Real Life Warrior Princes to actually command in battle (Harry, good luck to him, was only a subaltern). He was a cousin of royalty but he did reasonably well leading British forces in battle during World War II(a war which had many curiously old-fashioned elements including a few aristocratic leaders). He had the personality of a Wise Prince.
- Marcus Aurelius, last of the "Five Good Emperors" of Rome.
- Llewelyn ap Gruffydd, the last native Prince of Wales to be recognized as such by the English crown, was said to have been like this for most of his life. After the death of his adored wife in childbirth, however, he was something of a broken man; his brother persuaded him in that state to fight the English, with whom he had previously been on peaceful terms, and he was killed in the process.
- King Abdullah II of Jordan aspires to this, and many of his people see him that way. He was pro-democratic reform before the Arab Spring, and when that came he didn't balk at transferring more power from the monarchy to representative government, only intervening in parliamentary politics when protests indicated that they weren't acting in their constituent's interests.