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The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask
"I must now pass quickly over many years... during which the Queen of Glome had more and more part in me and Orual had less and less. I locked Orual up or laid her asleep as best I could somewhere deep down inside me; she lay curled there."

A princess or a queen who is the supreme ruler of her country. She is usually beautiful but certainly clever, strong-willed and charismatic and she cares about her land and her people.

The problem is: They're at war, have a drought or a bad case of corrupt administration. She wants to protect her people but they don't want to follow a woman, or someone so young or anyone at all.

So she has to make them follow her through cunning and the force of her personality, adhering to protocol and making it work for her. She has to dress perfectly, speak perfectly, be perfectly calm, never falter, never show "weakness". She has to think of and counter every possible intrigue and strategy. She may have to execute some of her more evil or unruly subjects and send others to war without batting an eyelash. Her choice of husband will have severe political consequences.

She finds it tiring.

An important part of this character is that she isn't in a trusting and happy relationship as this would make her a lot less alluringly lonely... Naturally this sad state can change over the course of the story.

This trope can be done with a male regent as well, but a woman just looks that much more exquisitely tragic and beautiful in this role. For the male public there can also be something erotic about such a character. Who wouldn't love to make her laugh, ease her out of her stifling robes and keep her company in her leader's loneliness? Care is needed, however, as Don't You Dare Pity Me! may come into effect. Suddenly Suitable Suitor may also be required, leading to plentiful anguish before the discovery.

Compare the Ermine Cape Effect, which she takes full advantage of, and Deadly Decadent Court, which is often her greatest threat. She can sometimes be seen as a royal version of the Stepford Smiler. See also The Wise Prince - a tragic male royal.

In terms of the ranks of Authority Tropes, the tropes that are equal are God Save Us from the Queen!, The High Queen, The Good King and President Evil. The next steps down are The Evil Prince, Prince Charming, Prince Charmless, Warrior Prince, The Wise Prince, and all Princess Tropes. The next step up is The Emperor. Silk Hiding Steel is near the bottom; she's not in charge and not supposed to have authority, but uses similar methods to pursue her goals.

If the character does not have these duties thrust upon her, but rather freely chooses to take them on, chances are she's a Go-Getter Girl or an Iron Lady.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • This describes Integra from Hellsing as well. She's not a queen and she is coldblooded but she has her moments. Also, she has the special duty of keeping Alucard in check. Anyone might get a little stiff after years of that.
  • Princess/Queen Henrietta in Zero no Tsukaima.
  • One of the main plots of The Twelve Kingdoms kicks off when Youko not only has to fight her way into Kei to claim her throne, but once crowned she starts having serious doubts about her own hability to reign over the Kei kingdom.
  • Baccano!: Luck Gandor is a male example working on the Just a Kid axis. He was pushed into running "the family business" after his father died before even reaching fifteen years old (to give you an idea how well that's accepted, his friend Firo's initiation to a similar position at eighteen was met with "Wait, you can possibly...Really?...Just how many executives did you sleep with to get there?"). So, to be taken seriously, he overcompensates like hell and puts up a front of ruthlessness that even he starts believing — though his best friend and adoptive brother both see right through it.
  • Rose of Versailles portrays Empress Maria Theresa as this, mixed with Knight Templar Parent. See Real Life below.
  • Gundam:
    • Arguably, this it what happens with Haman Karn over the course of her young life: from being a naive-yet-well-meaning girl in Char's Deleted Affair to the cold, manipulative and nigh-genocidal 20-year old regent of Neo-Zeon.
    • Ex-Rebellious Princess Cagalli Yula Athha tries to be The High Queen in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. To say it FAILS... well, it's an understatement, and she ends up as this. It may have worked a bit better later, with help of her soon-to-be sister-in-law Lacus Clyne after she's made leader of PLANT.
    • Before that, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing had Relena Peacecraft, another teenage Rebellious Princess who was forced to become The High Queen, though under different circumstances than Cagalli (and worse still, she had to be the figurehead leader of the militaristic organization that attacked and nearly destroyed her kingdom). She manages to completely own this, turning it into Reassignment Backfire and being well on the way to bringing peace when things got worse.
    • A non-royal version occurs in Crossbone Gundam, where Cecily Fairchild aka Bera Ronah is forced to be The Captain despite the fact that, for most of her life, she was an Ordinary High-School Student. Best illustrated in volume 2 where she freezes up during an intense battle on Io, and the Mother Vanguard's helmsman gives orders and politely criticizes Bera for spacing out when they need her the most.
    • Queen Dianna of Turn A Gundam. Her public persona is impeccably serene and composed. Around her Identical Stranger Kihel (and later as her), she shows her whimsical and sensitive side.
  • The council president from Kujibiki Unbalance.
  • Later chapters in Mahou Sensei Negima! begin to reveal Arika to be this. Nagi makes many attempts at lowering her unflappable guard.
  • Another male example is Shi Ryuuki in Saiunkoku Monogatari. As summed up by Shouka in the first season finale:
    "He is a man who is possessed by loneliness, from which he cannot escape. The more he behaves like an Emperor, the lonelier he becomes. ... From now on, just as he adds to his reputation as the Emperor, the people who see him as 'Ryuuki' start to vanish. ... That's why Shuurei is the only person who always did and always will call him by name. ... Right now, Seiran is able to take everything that he cherishes into his hands as much as his heart wishes. However, from now on, Ryuuki-sama will never be able to obtain anything any more in his lifetime. Since he knows that, he can't let go of the one dream he has left."
  • Mina Tepes from Dance in the Vampire Bund is the sort of person whose first instinct even in the middle of a un-life-or-final-death fight is to protect a human child. Between that and the fact that she looks 12, it is hard to imagine how she can hope to maintain herself as Queen of the Vampires without the whole Stone Bitch pose and a good bit of doing what goes against her better nature.
  • Black Lagoon - Yukio Washimine is forced to do this in order to attempt her entire Yakuza faction from being wiped out by Hotel Moscow and the higher-ranking Yakuza clan in charge. She doesn't get any slack after. Needless to say, it ends badly.
  • Toyed with in the interactions of Maria Theresa and Austria in Axis Powers Hetalia. Since this is Hetalia, though, it's Played for Laughs.
  • Being the second in command in the most successful army in Midland - and being the sole woman at the same time - Casca from Berserk always had to deal with this and was quite cold because of her job. However, this became more evident when the Band of the Hawk got into some deep shit after their charismatic leader, Griffith, got arrested and imprisoned after Guts, a man who got both of their affection (one a bit more extreme, which led to his erratic behavior in the first place), left the Hawks, which left Casca in charge. Casca became so physically and emotionally drained during this time, not only because two men that she respected and loved were not by her side, but because she was in charge with keeping the Band of the Hawk together AND alive (since they became fugitives upon Griffith's arrest). She was able to keep her cool for the most part... but when Guts comes back after a year, Casca just lets it all spill out, and almost attempted suicide.
    • The Queen of Midland to a degree, in that she's a naturally passionate woman expected to act like a queen to a distant husband, which is why she ended up having an affair with the king's brother. Unfortunately, Griffith's meteoric promotion led to the king's brother getting shafted, and she took it on herself to have Griffith removed, which didn't work out well for her.
  • Ayeka shows signs of this in the Tenchi Universe continuity. She tells Tenchi at some point that while she's the First Princess of the Juraian Empire, she doeesn't exactly like it as it's more of an honorary title than anything, and she feels very trapped in her role.
  • Hiashi Hyuuga from Naruto is arguably another male example. He's the head of the Hyuuga clan's main family (of Konoha's upper class) and, when we first meet him, he appears to be a very strict, stern-looking man and a Well Done Daughter Guy for his daughter Hinata. However, it's later revealed that he's been carrying around inner grief for the Heroic Sacrifice pulled over a decade earlier by his twin brother (who was delegated into the clan's branch family because Hiashi was born first) and the rift between both sides of the clan exacerbated by said sacrifice. He's been searching for an opportunity to tell his nephew Neji the truth of the matter (Neji believed that his father was made to sacrifice himself because he was a branch family member, not because it was his own choice for the sake of his family), and he finds that chance after Neji's defeat at Naruto's hands in the Chuunin exam, complete with him bowing to Neji in apology for not owning up earlier. Subsequent appearances in both canon and filler show him to smile more easily and get along better with both Neji and Hinata and this allows him to make amends with his brother when the latter is revived with the Forbidden Resurrection technique later on.
    • Ironically, the majority of fan-fiction takes Hiashi's pre-Character Development personality and transform him into an out-and-out Jerk Ass who's verbally and emotionally (and physically in a few cases) abusive to Hinata.
      • He did once tell Kurenai within earshot of Hinata that he didn't care if she died on a mission. That definitely is abusive, but seeing as every indication says that he was lying,note  it is also this trope.

     Comic Books  
  • Heart of Empire had Anne, Queen of the Universe, appearing to be this at first. Later, we find out the terrible truth...
  • The X-Men has Majestrix Lilandra of the Shi'ar, who always struggles and frequently fails to hold on to her throne and keep her kingdom from turning into The Empire, despite all the challengers to her rule and the corrupt and warmongering bureaucrats under her.

     Fan Fiction 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami features this in a very interesting manner. Ami, after becomeing the Empress of the Avatar Islands has to put on a cruel facade in the presence of most of her minions, as most are underworlders, and would not respond to a gentle hand attempting to govern them. She actually had this problem before, the Queenly mask is more her efforts to deal with the Lightworld Kingdoms, which require an entirely different approach.
  • One of the two central conflicts in the My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fanfiction Composure is Princess Celestia's struggle to maintain her calm, dignified demeanor after centuries of emotional repression, irrational fears of her reformed sister, an unacceptable affection for her former student Twilight Sparkle, and being blown up.
  • Grace Montello-Wayne from the The Dark Knight fanfic Question of Honor.


  • Though she's not a queen, Reyna counts.
  • Indu Sundaresan writes about Mehrunnisa, better known as Nur Jahan, in both The 20th Wife and Feast of Roses. She married Emperor Jahangir of the Mughal Empire in 17th-century India, only to see her dominion destroyed by her own aggressive tendencies.
  • Michael Moorcock, in his novel Gloriana; or, the Unfulfill'd Queen, portrays Elizabeth I as a queen so intent on her responsibilities as a monarch that she is incapable of reaching orgasm no matter how kinky she gets. And she gets very kinky.
  • In the first book of Tad William's Shadowmarch, Briony has to rule at age fifteen and though she has a hard time, her brother is completely hopeless.
  • In Megan Whalen Turner's The Queen's Thief, the Queen of Attolia inspires awe and fear in her people, and she certainly isn't nice but her job isn't easy either. Specifically, she was forced to marry a much older man who completely disregarded her, most tellingly eating her food and drinking from her glass without asking permission. So she poisoned her own wine.
    • It doesn't get any easier when our good friend Eugenides wins her love and becomes King of Attolia. He's happy as a clam to be married to the woman he fell in love with so long ago, but he isn't so hot on the job that comes with it. Now, not only does the poor woman have to rule the country, she has to keep reminding her husband that now it's his country too, and he needs to take an interest in ruling it.
  • Historical/literary example: Pearl Buck's interpretation of Tsu Hsi (Ci-xi) in the historical novel Imperial Woman. In real life it's still debated if Cixi truly as much of an Evil Matriarch as usually depicted or if Red China and its propaganda made her worse than she really was. Considering other testimonies, Cixi was a polemic and very shady figure, but not the uber-horrid monster that she's portrayed as.
  • Another example discussing Ci Xi is Anchee Min's books Empress Orchid and The Last Empress, portrayed as more harassed, tired, and maligned than anything else.
  • Queen Selenay of Valdemar. She has to be The High Queen and a Lady of War when the need calls for it, but it helps that she has the entire Heraldic Circle to trust. Part of the problem, though, is that these are the same Heralds she must often send into deadly danger.
    • Naturally, the one time she fails to ask her Heralds for advice (and they fail to speak their minds), she makes a disastrous marriage that nearly gets her killed.
  • Lady Mara in Raymond Feist's and Joanna Wurtz's Daughter of the Empire and its sequels must take command of the noble house of the Acoma when her parents are killed. Complicating matters is a societal proscription against showing emotion in public.
  • Queen Keli in the Discworld novel Mort, only allows herself to be a confused and whiny teenager in front of Cutwell and Mort. The Duchess of Borogravia in Monstrous Regiment turned into this after her own death thanks to the power of belief on the Disc.
  • George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire has Daenerys Targaryen, who goes from an innocent princess to this over the course of the series.
  • Gregor in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga seems to be a rare male version of this. Much talk is made about the "mask" he wears as an Emperor.
  • Tenel Ka Djo in the Star Wars Expanded Universe.
    • Admiral Daala has elements of this in Fate of the Jedi, though to what extent tends to be up in the air.
  • In Honor Harrington:
    • Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth III of Manticore was forced to wear the Queenly Mask for a some time in her youth, after her parents were assassinated by Haven's sympathizers, who hoped that a teenage queen would be easy to manipulate. They happened to be wrong. Very, very, very wrong. She had it tough for some time, though, until she won a broad popular support, and not just that of her close allies.
    • President Eloise Pritchart of the restored Republic of Haven, as well — she's not, strictly speaking, a queen, but she is a President with the same responsibilities. And all the more so because she, Thomas Theisman, her lover Javier Giscard, and a few other people had restored a true republic that hadn't existed for two centuries, and so she absolutely must be this in order to ensure it survives.
    • Honor herself is not exactly royalty, but her capacity as a commander suffers from this on-and-off starting with the middle of the second book, and coming in full-force after the fourth.
  • Prince Tobin/Queen Tamír in Lynn Flewelling's The Oracle's Queen, until close to the end of the book. At which point, the war over, she acknowledges her feelings for her childhood friend and ends up marrying him.
  • Tin Princess by Philip Pullman is a shining example of this trope.
  • Princess Marla in Jennifer Fallon's Wolfblade Trilogy starts out as a spoiled princess but becomes more and more this as the books go on, despite the fact that her brother is the High Prince. Several people recognize that she is the one who makes all the decisions in Hytria instead of her no-good brother even while she continues with the charade of being a spoiled brat.
  • Played with in Piers Anthony's Isle of Woman, during a segment that follows a Chinese royal concubine. She follows the trope pretty much to the letter, and later becomes the Queen in all but name.
  • Rhian in Karen Miller's Godspeaker Trilogy who constantly has to prove she is worthy to rule in her own right and this includes dueling with vassals who will not submit to her. She only has sex with her childhood sweetheart once after she marries him, and that's only to consummate the marriage.
  • Queen-Mother Muriele of Greg Keyes's The Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series, after her brother-in-law attempts to seize power by having the entire royal family murdered (thankfully he missed a few). This event leaves her mentally challenged son as the official king, and she has to act through him to lead her kingdom through some very serious conflicts, with only a handful of advisors remaining loyal to her.
  • Queen Ketricken from the Tawny Man Trilogy is this. She has lost her husband, all family and friends, and has had to clean up a kingdom after a war. She also has to deal with the persecution of certain of her people by others of her people. Although she wears plain clothing and little jewellery in public, she still only lets her guard down in private.
  • Queen Sharleyan of the Safehold kingdom of Chisholm inherited the throne at a young age after her father was murdered. While her uncle and her first councilor were instrumental in helping her stay on the throne, Sharleyan herself was quick to develop into a strong young woman. Additionally, she did it with the precedent of a less able queen hanging over her.
  • C. J. Cherryh's Bangsian Fantasy Legions of Hell has a passage portraying Hatshepsut as a case of this. She sent out explorers, listened to their reports when they returned, and all the while she wanted to be an explorer, not just hear what they had to say.
    And if she were not Hatshepsut the pharaoh, she might blurt out, simply, with tears: I want to go, the way she had ached when her explorers had come back to her and told of great waterfalls and strange tribes and unknown coasts and vast seas. I want to go, because she had ruled two thirds of the known world and had no freedom ever to see those things, she could only send others....
  • In Mary Hoffman's Stravaganza, the Duchessa Silvia is this trope to the letter, even to the mask that she legally must wear as an unmarried woman. However, she does not have to worry about doubts of a woman ruler, as Belleza (the Fantasy Counterpart Culture version of Venice) would not accept anything but a female ruler. And furthermore, she takes this role to Magnificent Bitch levels.
  • Elayne Trakand in The Wheel of Time is kind of this. Her problems are not caused by her sex or youth, but by her not actually being a queen yet. She has to deal with a civil war caused by other aspiring queens, not to mention some highly irritating magic w
TsundereIce Queen    
WildcardCharacterization TropesThe Worf Effect
Woman ScornedAlways FemaleWomen Drivers
The VampWomen Are DelicateWounded Gazelle Gambit
The High QueenAuthority TropesShe Is the King
Quickly Demoted WomanGender Dynamics IndexAdults Are Useless
The Wise PrinceRoyalty and Nobility TropesThe Wrongful Heir to the Throne

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