What's Up, King Dude?

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Some people, like Getafix, know how to behave in front of a Queen. Others… don't.

"Please, go on in. The king will see anyone who wishes to see him."
Adelhyde Castle Guard, Wild ARMs

The phenomenon in fiction (primarily in High Fantasy) of commoners being allowed improbably free access to the royal family.

In Real Life, access to royal families is usually tightly controlled, and in most cases commoners, unless they are friends with royal family members, are not allowed to have extended interaction with royals outside of formal events. Not in fiction, though. In fiction, Farmer Alice can go into the royal palace and give King Bob the Nth their secret handshake and a slap on the ass and say "What's up, King Dude?" Royals Who Actually Do Something tend to do this more than others, since they're already active anyway and "actually doing something" more often than not entails working with common folk.

The reason for this trope is probably the fact that, in ancient times, rulers of small clans and chiefdoms were often referred to as "kings." Later on, such as in the Renaissance, these stories were modified to better fit then-modern times (i.e. with bigger kingdoms and more powerful kings) but they forgot to edit the part about the farmer visiting his "king."

Royal security did, however, remain rather porous; common peasants were certainly not allowed in the palace, but just about anyone who could afford a nice set of clothes and some bribes could enter freely, especially during the eras of feudalism where local lords held more practical power than the king did. It was in early days of colonialism that royals grew tremendously in power and thus allowed few of common blood into their courts. (The fact that easy access to concealed firearms suddenly made political assassinations depressingly easier certainly didn't help things.)

In fiction, however, it's rather common for anyone—nobles, farmers, merchants, bribers, and military chaps alike—to be able to waltz into the palace with few or no repercussions. Many RPGs require players to consult the king before the adventure proper begins.

Compare Swiss Cheese Security, where supervillains do a rather poor job of securing their lairs; they often overlap in the case of Evil Overlords.

Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Dragon Ball: It's something of a Running Gag that Son Goku treats everyone, from commoners to kings to gods, with the same casual, easy-going country bumpkin attitude. He's never outright disrespectful, he just never learned social niceties due to living alone for the formative years of his life. It gets really interesting in Dragon Ball Super when we meet Zen'o, the King of Everything and literally the most powerful being in the Dragon Ball multiverse. Goku's casual attitude completely horrifies everyone else, but Zen'o likes Goku specifically because he treats him like a normal person, whereas everyone else in the 12 universes treats him with a mix of utter respect and pants-wetting terror because he once destroyed six entire universes because he was in a bad mood.
  • Sort of inverted with the Princess (and later, Queen) Henrietta de Tristain in The Familiar of Zero, who despite being depicted as alternatively pressured, sheltered and/or cloistered by the royal court seems to be able to slip out of the palace incognito for a brief chat with her lower class friends with remarkable ease.
  • In One Piece
    • Princess Vivi was shown in a flashback to be a Tomboy, who played with other kids all the time. It is noted how unusual it is for commoners and royalty to be able to freely associate in that manner.
    • To a lesser extent is Queen Otohime of Fishman Island's Ryugu Kingdom, who would daily make public addresses in the middle of town when she could just as easily do so from the palace. It's noted as a part of both her own nature and those of her abilities (a form of clairvoyance called Haki) that she prefers to be among her people.
    • Luffy tends to treat everyone he meets, be it the king of a nation he just saved, an Navy admiral, or even the World's Strongest Man, like any old joe.
  • Hotohori in Fushigi Yuugi and later his son Boushin, relishes this due to loneliness although his advisors discourage it.
  • In Magi – Labyrinth of Magic we have Sinbad. He regularly spends time with his citizens and pretty much anyone in his country could have audience with him. This situation contrasts with every other kingdom or empire in the Magi-verse, though, admittedly, Sindria is just an island with a relatively small population and Sinbad would have no worries about his own safety.
  • In Castle Town Dandelion, as the king wants his children to blend into the normal people as much as possible, this is a given. Princes and princesses are literally walking around the city like any commoner, as long as they are greeted with -sama.

    Comic Books 
  • In Next Men, after Murcheson is thrown through time and ends up in The American Civil War, she is startled to learn how easy it is for her to walk into the White House and meet with Abraham Lincoln. This probably counts as Truth in Television (see Real Life below).
  • As seen in the trope picture, Astérix and Obelix have a habit of doing this (though in that instance there was security, it just didn't last long). They also have a habit of calling Caesar by his first name whenever he shows up.
    • In Asterix the Legionary, Asterix's Ragtag Bunch of Misfits unit wanders one by one right into Caesar's tent during a strategic meeting, Obelix helpfully identifying their unit when an exasperated Caesar demands to know who these people are. When their CO starts berating them for this, Caesar has him arrested for not keeping discipline.

    Fan Works 
  • A Crown of Stars: When they are not on duty, Daniel and Rayana -the God Emperors of Avalon- are very informal and approachable.
    • In chapter 26 Asuka and Shinji find them sunbathing nonchalantly:
    The coast of their island’s shore curved around and brought them back towards their own cabin’s end. They’d sighted a few other cabins along the way, but saw no other people or signs of activity until they reached a point near the next cabin up the island from Ching’s. Under a wide sunshade two beach chairs were occupied by figures that grew more familiar, but puzzling as they walked closer.
    Asuka tilted her head and tried to reconcile what she was seeing with what she knew. The blonde hair and red beard were the same, but it was still hard to believe that the man in the first chair with the aviator sunglasses, white and red short-sleeved tropical shirt, and ratty shorts was their usually armored and caped host. Just as normal yet thereby odd was the Witch Queen next to him, now in a colorful sarong and backless swimsuit.
    Daniel raised a coconut and paper umbrella drink at them as they drew near. “G’day, howdy-do, and hiya, kids. Having a good morning?” He nodded at their still joined hands. “Or are you still sort of feeling your way into things?” he asked in jaunty Japanese.
  • Triptych Continuum: The Day and Night Courts of Canterlot have open sessions, like in the beginning of Triptych Continuum A Mark Of Appeal.
  • The typical attitude of the Norfolk towards Harry in The Difference One Man Can Make is quite casual, and they don't hesitate to tease or criticize him. Ygritte even threatens to shoot him if he decides to act "lordlike". Harry himself appreciates, and firmly corrects Southron guests when they call him a lord.

    Films — Animated 
  • In Frozen, the kingdom of Arendelle normally had an open-door policy with its citizens, but its doors were closed for several years to try to hide Princess Elsa's ice powers. The plot is kick-started when the doors are opened again for Elsa's coronation ceremony. Also, he Anna & Elsa spin-off books portray Elsa as a humble, down-to-earth queen who often leaves the palace and mingles with the commoners. That's not even mentioning Anna.
  • In Mulan, Mulan hugs the Emperor after he gives her a gift, prompting Yao to ask whether she's allowed to do that.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • This is the case to the U.S. president in Gabriel Over the White House, leading to a Narmtastic scene where the Mafia does a drive-by shooting at the White House footsteps.
  • Pixels, the president (played by Kevin James) is friendly with his high school friend Sam, to the point of letting him in his room unguarded. Sam also refers to the Secret Service by their first names.
  • Coming to America: The people in Queens, NY behave very familiarly with Prince Akeem's parents. And that's nothing compared to how several people treat Akeem before learning he's a prince.
    • One of the men in the barber shop reaches out to stroke the skinned lion that King Jaffe Joffer is wearing as a sash and asks, "What is this, velvet?"
    • Cleo introduces himself to Queen Aoleon by sticking out his hand. She initially seems taken aback but graciously shakes his hand and introduces herself. And if the wedding scene at the end is correct, she seems to have become downright fond of Cleo.
    • Cleo also repeatedly addresses Jaffe Joffer as simply "King".
      Cleo: (on the phone) Hello, King? Cleo Mc Dowell here.
      • However, he even drops the royal title after Jaffe Joffer insults his daughter.
      Cleo: I don't care who you are. This is America, Jack. Say another word about Lisa, and I'll break my foot off in your royal ass!

    Literature 
  • Played straight in Robert Aspirin's Myth Adventures series with Roderick.
  • Discworld usually doesn't play this straight, but Lord Vetinari's guards are under orders to accept any and all bribes, and he generally doesn't object to any commoner with both enough courage and a good enough reason to walk right up to his desk. Given that he cultivates a reputation as a tyrant (a very benevolent and competent one, nonetheless) anyone who gets that far is probably worth listening to for a minute.
    • It helps immensely that he's known to be an alumnus of the Assassin's Guild, but no one can quite remember exactly what his focus was. And no one wants to be the one to find out by trying anything funny.
    • It should be noted that the people allowed into the Palace to see the Patrician aren't simply free to wander into his office. They're shown into a waiting room with very hard benches and the door is locked behind them, leaving them to wait if Vetinari is inclined to see them — or let them leave.
    • The situation in Lancre is ... complex. Basically, royal security consists of Shawn Ogg, who is more likely to obey his mam than his monarch. Verence wants to be a man of the people in any case, but the Lancrastians believe the king should be holed up in the palace eating, quaffing and exercising his droit de seigneur (which is believed to be some kind of big, hairy dog), and are mistrustful of one who wants to listen to them. In fact, when Verence attempts to make a parliament and form a constitutional monarchy the Lancrastians think he's just trying to fool them into doing his job for him.
  • King Arthur: The below events, and many others, took place at Arthur's Pentecost Court which might be considered a sort of royal open house where all comers were feasted and invited to ask for boons.
    • In Thomas Malory's magnum opus Le Morte d'Arthur, a poor cowherd seems to just walk up to King Arthur and asks a favor of him. In fact, a lot of quests and tales begin with some stranger just waltzing in to say/do something.
    • The Green Knight from Sir Gawain and the Green Knight rides his horse straight into the main hall during a feast.
  • Fflewddur Fflam in the Prydain Chronicles was king of a country so small you could walk across the whole thing in a single day. Children would often play games and sports in his throne room because of ease of access, and they knew that he was far more likely to join in their games then shoo them out of the castle.
  • Deconstructed in Septimus Heap, since the lack of guarding results in Princess Jenna being kidnapped.
  • Eon in Belisarius Series is first seen arm wrestling with Roman soldiers. He comes from an informal but spartan and militaristic culture where princes are first and foremost expected to prove themselves as soldiers and playing with soldiers is as natural to him as fighting beside them.
  • Subverted in Vorkosigan Saga. While the main characters refer to the emperor informally they are closely related. Armsmen have close access but not informal access.
  • Played with in the Dragaera novels. Technically, any citizen of the Empire can seek an audience with the Empress at a certain time each week; in practice, her guards and bureaucrats make the process of requesting such an audience so intimidating and bothersome that most commoners back off and leave long before they get near her. Likewise, while it's possible for any citizen to communicate with the Empress psychically, peasants are never taught how to do so, and other social classes are warned that she might use the Imperial Orb to destroy their minds if they contact her for any reason she doesn't consider worthy of her time.
  • Mostly averted in A Song of Ice and Fire; however, while hearing petitions on King Robert's behalf, Ned is surprised when many of the peasants do not know what their king looks like, hinting that things may typically be less formal in the North.
  • Used in the Honor Harrington series when Harrington remarks that she should probably drop in to the palace to visit Queen Elizabeth III. The person she's saying this to, Elizabeth's cousin and one of the few people who actually could just decide to drop by for a visit (although probably needing an appointment herself), is privately amused that Harrington, a career naval officer coming from a middle-class family on one of the kingdom's secondary planets, had become someone so politically and personally important that she should so casually suggest doing something that her highest-ranking military superiors and the vast majority of the kingdom's nobility and aristocracy simply wouldn't even consider or even be allowed to do.
  • Wolf Hall generally doesn't have this—by the time of Henry VIII kings were more separated from their people, although Henry makes a point of showing himself in public places a few times and it's not difficult for the nun Elizabeth Barton to get close and start giving him disturbing prophecies. And on the informality front, there's his boyhood friend and brother-in-law Charles Brandon, a Boistrous Bruiser who will wander into a room and shout things like "Aren't you ready Harry?!" This irritates Thomas Cromwell to no end, especially when Brandon starts gossiping loudly in front of a foreign ambassador (at which point Cromwell physically drags him out of the room).
  • Taken to ridiculous extreme in Isaac Asimov's Foundation. Gaal, a young man from the outer fringes of the Galaxy gets caught up in political intrigue and is arrested, and demands an immediate personal hearing with the Emperor of the Galaxy, which has a population in the quadrillions. His lawyer tells he that he is not entitled to a hearing with the Emperor, because he's "from the provinces", implying that someone from the Imperial capital planet of Trantor, which has only 45 billion people, is entitled to a hearing. The lawyer went on to say in explanation the Empire is not the same as it once was, implying that in the past the Emperor apparently did hear appeals from citizens in the provinces. In the following chapter, Gaal did end up having a hearing with the Emperor.

    Live Action TV 
  • Featured on two separate occasions in the original House of Cards (UK):
    • Invoked, quite literally, in To Play The King - The King decides to embark on a meet'n'greet tour through Britain without his security detail (to manifest his reputation as a 'people's monarch' and to build popular support against PM Urquhart). Urquhart, in return, exploits this by arranging a 'summer theatre' in which the King gets 'kidnapped' by a group of paid thugs and then be 'rescued' by the British Army at Urquhart's behest, making him look like a hero and the King like a callous idiot.
    • Played straight in The Final Cut - Urquhart's own limousine is rammed off the motorway by some random trio of drunken punks in a minibus who are looking for a fight (but probably didn't realise whose limousine they just hit). Then subverted in that they're promptly shot by Urquhart's own bodyguards as 'terrorists'.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "Monster of Peladon", it seems anyone, including miners, can walk into the throne room and talk to the queen whenever they want to talk to her about something. Of course on Peladon 'miner' is a very important job.
  • Various people have startling amounts of access to Kai Winn on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, especially considering that she is essentially the Bajoran Pope. Major Kira, who granted is the second-in-command to the Emissary on the most strategic installation in the quadrant, still seems to get away with a lot in terms of informal meetings in which she can get very lippy indeed. Then there's Jake and Nog in "In the Cards," and, more grimly, "Anjohl Tennan" (read 'Gul Dukat') in the closing arc.
    • In the last case, the Kai's aide was at least duly incredulous (eventually), pointing out that the man simply appeared one day for an audience with the Kai and had, over-night, become her closest advisor to the point of living in her residence and ordering her servants and priests around.
  • The short-lived comedy That's My Bush! parodied the George W. Bush presidency as a standard Dom Com, which included giving George a next door neighbor who drops in Once an Episode. Made doubly ridiculous by the fact that the real White House is completely fenced in, with no residential buildings on its immediate vicinity.
  • The "Big Block of Cheese" days in The West Wing serve this purpose, allowing people who don't usually have access to politicians to talk to White House staff.

    Music 
  • Child Ballad 99, Johnie Scot, and 110, The Knight and the Shepherd's Daughter—with the usual variety of titles and texts—have lines in which, after a character has "dingled at the ring" or "tingled at the pin" or "knock-ed and she's ring", then "none was so ready as the king himself/to let the fair maid in" or "rise and let him in". In 110, despite the maid having swum across a stream without a chance to change into dry clothes, his majesty (e.g., King Edwards [sic]) graciously ignores her dishevelment.

    Theater 
  • In Pippin, when Pippin becomes king, he graciously invites "high and low alike" to stand in lines and submit their petitions for reform. At first he's inclined to grant them all what they want, but when that turns out to be not such a good idea, he falls back on telling them the same answers his father used to give to nobles' requests: "Denied!" and "Take that man away and hang him!"
  • A central theme in Henry IV. Prince Hal has a friendly, casual friendship with Sir John Falstaff that his father the King thinks entirely inappropriate because being overly familiar, especially with disreputable people, means they will not respect the King when the time comes. Sure enough, while Falstaff is jolly, and has some surprisingly nuanced thoughts on honor, he is an unreliable and shifty character that stains the prince's reputation with his very presence, and Hal only starts becoming a good king (or starts being perceived as such) after ridding himself of that association.

    Video Games 
  • World of Warcraft does this with literally every playable race leader. As long as you are of the same faction, you can just barge into the royal throne room and talk to the king/queen/president.
    • Semi-justified as Asskicking Equals Authority is in full effect here. It literally takes, at the very least, 15 enemy players, all at max level, to fight the faction leaders.
  • The Lord of the Rings Online lets you stroll up to some fairly important people, like Elrond or Galadriel. In fairness, though, you're not exactly having a casual chat with them... either they've specifically sent for you because they want your help with something, or someone they already know has sent you to talk with them. Depending on your race, you may even know some of them already yourself (for example, the introduction for elves shows that you were on the scene six hundred years ago when Elrond soloed a troll; your contribution to this epic combat was basically to stand there and pee yourself, but he does know you).
    • Of course this is somewhat justifiable. To meet Elrond for instance, one has to first walk through most of the valley of Rivendell to the Last Homely House, presumably being watched at every turn. To meet Galadriel is even harder as one has to earn the right to enter Lothlórien first, otherwise you risk get peppered by arrows by multiple hidden archers.
  • Seems to be the case in the Super Mario Bros. series. Okay, Mario and the like might be justified for having saved the kingdom a few hundred times, but apparently anyone even remotely affiliated with them can walk straight through the front door of the castle without opposition. Or how Bowser really, really ends up getting right next to Peach pretty dang often, at least in the RPGs, where he apparently just walks through the front door before Mario and Luigi have to defeat him practically next to the throne.
  • Suikoden:
    • Lino En Kuldes in Suikoden IV, who lets anyone on the island just walk into his throne room and talk to him. Seeing as Lino doesn't dress like a king and acts very casually himself, he could easily be mistaken for a servant. A very large, muscular servant.
    • Averted in Suikoden V: the Queen is living in an insular bubble, and relies on her sister and a few select knights to maintain contact with the common people. The player character's access to the Queen is on account of being her son.
  • Kings and Queens in Dragon Quest games are typically lazy about security. Sure they'll have guards stationed at various points in the castle, but you can pretty much walk up and talk to them without any trouble.
  • Common in the 2D-era Final Fantasy games, up to and including exploring the royal bedrooms. In the very first game, you even have to go and find the king on your own initiative (more or less). Several games in the series justify this: Cecil is the foster son of Baron's king in Final Fantasy IV, most of the player characters of Final Fantasy V are royalty themselves, and King Edgar of Figaro is in liason with the Returners in Final Fantasy VI.
  • In Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light, Brandt and his friends are frequently cautioned by the guards of whatever castle they visit to be on their best behavior in front of the throne. (Even though one of them is herself a princess—though of the Royal Brat variety.)
  • Played with in Dragon Age: Origins:
    • You are able to speak to Teyrn Loghain before the Battle of Ostagar, though the easiest way is for you to pick the Human Noble origin and tell the guard that the reason that Loghain should deign to speak to you is because you're the child of the only other Teyrn in Ferelden, Bryce Cousland, who has been killed in a sneak attack on his castle.
    • Another way is to persuade the guard to allow you to speak with him. This still makes sense however, as the Warden is a member of a well-respected order dedicated to fighting the Darkspawn, the enemy they are soon to be facing in the upcoming battle.
    • Deconstructed by King Cailan, who mentions driving Loghain insane by constantly disappearing to spend time talking and drinking with the soldiers at Ostagar, with very few guards present to keep an eye on him.
    • If Alistair becomes King at the Landsmeet, it's mentioned in one of the epilogues that he does the same thing as his half-brother, often sneaking out of the palace to buy everyone a few rounds at the local tavern.
  • It's actually averted pretty neatly in Dragon Age II.
    • While you can wander into the Viscount's Keep whenever you want, you're only allowed to see the Viscount himself when you're called into his chambers. Unless you personally save his son's life in Act 1, you won't meet him until you've made your fortune.
    • Similarly, while Hawke can wander into the Gallows' courtyard at any time in the first two acts, they're only granted access to the inner sanctum and Knight-Commander Meredith and First Enchanter Orsino in the third act, after having become Champion and one of the key players in the city.
  • Depending on the game, Lord British is a very accessible monarch.
  • In The Sims Medieval, villagers are frequently seen in the Throne Room interacting with the Monarch, Royal Advisor and visiting diplomats. Also inverted since when playing as the monarch you'll spend a lot of time running around the kingdom bothering your subjects in person.
  • Not so in The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind, however. You can try and waltz into the personal quarters of various Great House nobles if you want to, but they will not talk business with you unless you have a reason for bothering this particular noble (i.e. have a letter for them, belong to their House and want to serve them, are sent with a secret diplomatic mission, are a noble too and want to get a land deed from the duke, are the Messiah and want them to acknowledge that, etc). To have business with them, you should have business with their henchmen, hirelings and recruiters in the House Council Halls first. And the god-kings of the Tribunal avert this absolutely; you will not meet one unless they want to meet you (or you're brazen enough to crack the Difficulty 100 lock, in Vivec's case).
  • In The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion, the Counts and Countesses apparently have an open-door policy, allowing anyone who comes during visiting hours to wander in, armed to the teeth, and have a friendly chat. It makes the one Count in the game who generally refuses audiences with commoners to seem stand-offish by comparison. This is possibly justified later on in the game, when you're a hero renowned throughout Cyrodil, and have done each and every one of the Counts and Countesses at least one personal favor. But at the beginning of the game, when you're a total nobody (and an escaped convict at that), it doesn't make a lot of sense.
  • In Skyrim:
    • Jarls seem to have the same kind of open-door policy. The Dragonborn can just walk in and ask if they have a job for him. In fact, it is usually harder to get into a town jarl resides in (1 dialogue with a guard) then to get into the jarl's palace.
    • It's played with in the beginning of Skyrim, as when you first go into Dragonsreach, Balgruuf's Housecarl stops you and demands to know your business, and you can't get past her until you tell her.
    • Also the first time you visit the Palace of the Kings, when Ulfric Stormcloak tells you that "only the foolish or the courageous approach a jarl without summons." It's worth noting that the extra caution in Windhelm and Whiterun is justified, since Ulfric is leading a rebellion and Balgruuf is pissing off the Stormcloaks and the Imperials alike by trying to maintain neutrality - both are prime assassination targets.
    • Faleen (housecarl to Igmund) also confronts you the first time you approach him in Understone Keep.
    • Similarly averted in the Dawnguard expansion, where the only reason Lord Harkon agrees to allow the Dragonborn into the Castle Volkihar for an audience, is because they are escorting his daughter. If you turn down his offer to become a Vampire Lord as reward for your service, he spares your life but immediately banishes you from the premises.
  • In Shining Force, in one of the towns about halfway through the game, the item and weapon shops are connected to the castle. When you approach them, the King comes running up to stand behind the counter, and says something like "Just because I'm King, doesn't mean I can't make some money!"
  • Averted in RuneScape. Players can freely approach the king and queen of Misthalin, yet the king and crown prince of Asgarnia do not even appear as ingame characters. One of the two kings of Kandarin is likewise accessible, yet the throne room guards of Miscellania will only allow a 'hero' in to see the king. These are some examples, but there is a bit more as well.
  • A frequent occurrence in Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, though there are lampshades all over the place, and in most places some form of justification:
    • The Man Behind the Man pulling the strings for you (Kaocho and arguably Morgal),
    • Kraden having ingratiated himself with world leaders everywhere over the last thirty years, and during the events of The Lost Age (Champa, Yamatai),
    • The most heavily-lampshaded instance is when, after your awkward arrival into Ayuthay, you are immediately taken to see King Paithos... because he had a standing order that any Adepts who showed up were to be brought to him in case Amiti's father was with them.
      • This clearly runs in the royal family of Ayuthay. Amiti's reaction to learning a group of Adepts sent by their enemies have infiltrated the sanctuary? Personally greet them and offer Sacred Hospitality. And Amiti's mother was apparently a little more than friendly to an unknown foreign Adept about twenty years prior.
  • Might and Magic VI appears to have this, though it might just be that the convincing of the guards to let you in takes place off-screen — your commoner main characters do have a perfectly valid reason to see the Regent (proof of a plot against the Kingdom involving the missing King), but it isn't shown that you tell anyone before you see the Regent, and it wouldn't make sense to show the proof of it to the guards.
  • Averted in Tales of the Abyss, since the party consists of the son of a high ranking noble who's also nephew to the king, and fiance to the princess, who's also part of the party, and his personal servant who is later restored to his former status of noble, as well as the best friend and personal advisor to the emperor of another nation, personal guard to the highest religious authority in the game world (who also travels with the party) and a soldier who works personally for yet another high ranking religious authority and is a descendant of Yulia, giving her status in the Qliphoth. The party more or less has access to everywhere in the world, conveniently enough, which leads the aforementioned princess to wonder out loud if it was ordained by the score.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • Played to a lesser extent in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time; Link needs to sneak past extensive security just to reach Zelda, and only sees what is presumably the royal audience chamber through a window (which Zelda herself apparently has to spy through). Darunia also bars himself off until a royal messenger arrives, although he apparently has an open door policy at all other times. The Great Deku Tree seems like he's supposed to be like this, but Mido arbitrarily won't let Link through. Played straight with King Zora; only the Royal Family or its messengers (i.e. anyone who can play Zelda's Lullaby) can enter Zora's Domain.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask, Link is able to just waltz into the mayor's office during an important town meeting, and his wife's audience room (where she just kind of assumes that he's an investigator that she sent for). There's a receptionist who seems like she's supposed to control visitors, but she seems pretty disinterested.
    • In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, this initially seems to be played straight with the Zora royalty: Prince Sidon meets Link on a commonly used trail and invites him to meet with his father King Dorephan in Zora's Domain because Hylians lack the Zora's weakness to electricity. However, if you manage to skip that meeting spot and travel straight to the throne room, Sidon is instead prepared to escort Link out before seeing that he is a Hylian. The Sheikah and Gerudo chiefs are also fairly closely guarded, with Link only being granted an audience with either because they recognize his Sheikah Slate; their protectiveness is also justified because of their frequent conflicts with the murderous Yiga Clan.
  • King's Quest: Graham tends to take this approach to leadership. Justified by the fact he started his career as a low-level knight and hadn't any ambitions higher than serving the country of Daventry. He just happened to be the knight the dying Edward the Benevolent trusted most, which made him heir to the throne. Graham is very much a soldier and adventurer at heart and will ditch royal finery for his favorite red tunic and Nice Hat as soon as he's given opportunity: he's rarely seen wearing anything else, and according to the opening of the fifth game, makes a habit of walking through his kingdom unescorted.
  • Averted in Three the Hard Way. The party is only able to enter the palace because they are travelling with Duchess Fayette, and even the Duchess herself was only allowed to eventually meet the king because there was an ongoing conference between the King and his vassal dukes.
  • In Faria, one of the player's first tasks is to walk into the King's castle and tell him you want to Save the Princess. The manual Hand Waves this by mentioning that the player is specifically responding to the King's summons. The one time you aren't allowed to just walk into the castle is when an impostor has seized control.
  • In Fantasy Life, king Erik of Castele invokes this and inists on having commoners being able to come to his throne room to chat with him. His guards however want visitors to at least dress decently. The player first meets Olivia and Daemon/Damien (the rulers of the two other human kingdoms) as Castele's de facto ambassador and becomes quick friends with them. The player is free to come and go to their palaces once the story chapters in which they are introduced are finished and Olivia tands to spend lots of time outside her palace anyway.
  • Studiously averted in The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt. Not only is security around Emperor Emhyr tight, but Geralt is forced to bathe and shave before being granted audience at Emhyr's request.
  • Asgore, King of All Monsters, is built up throughout Undertale as the final boss, the one who you have to get past in order to escape the monster populated Underground. However, as you approach his castle, you see notes telling you exactly where to find him and inviting anyone with any concerns to come and talk to him.
  • In Princess Maker 2, this is downplayed. As the daughter of a hero, you have the right to visit the castle, but you won't be admitted to speak with anyone of importance if you don't have enough Decorum skill. Still, you can chat with the King all you like once you get that high, and you can meet the young prince every January regardless of your Decorum.
  • Played straight in Mount & Blade, but sometimes averted in Warband. In the latter, if you meet the King in the field, he'll give you the time of day, but admission to the royal palace during a feast is limited to nobles and tournament winners.
  • Usually averted in most Might and Magic games. Getting into a castle requires either a key, a pass or status of some kind, though the specifics differ from game to game and castle to castle. If you have admittance to a castle, you can usually speak to the local lord or king (if he's there) and get his quests.
  • In The Lost Heir, you are the monarch starting in the middle of the second game, but commoners will come running up to you to ask for help or do business with you, and nobody thinks that that's odd. In the third game, you can try to rein in some of this if you want.

    Webcomics 

    Western Animation 
  • "Gerald McBoing! Boing! on Planet Moo": The king of Planet Moo is freer with his subjects than Earth sovereigns. When he finds out he doesn't have enough money to pay for Gerald's trip back home, he goes to a hock shop and pawns his crown.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: While Celestia and Luna are fairly well-guarded, Twilight lives in the town library (at least until said library is destroyed) and regularly goes about her business in Ponyville normally to the point that it's actually a pretty rare occasion when someone actually does treat her with the reverence you'd expect a princess to get. Her friends and their families in particular seem to mostly ignore the fact that she's technically royalty and treat her like anybody else. It's justified here, as most ponies already knew her before her coronation, and she's not really inclined to make them treat her differently.
  • The Simpsons: In Bart vs. Australia, Bart's prank call to an Australian man racks up an enormous bill. He declares he's going to take up the matter with his Member of Parliament, who's right outside his house. The two of them agree to contact the Prime Minister, so they run over to a nearby pond where the PM is relaxing and shout for him.
  • My Grandmother Ironed the King's Shirts: King Haakon VII has to carry his own luggage to the palace after being selected as King of Norway, and Haakon has to open the palace door with a key.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil: In the Whole Episode Flashback "Moon the Undaunted", we see a young River Johansen trying, and failing, to remember to be formal and deferential to Moon Butterfly now that she's queen.
    River: (to himself) Did I just call the Queen "pal"?!

    Real Life 
  • Early U.S. presidents were fond of doing this, starting with Andrew Jackson, who often invited working-class folks to his parties, which were informal and wild and featured whiskey and roast beef instead of champagne and caviar. Grover Cleveland made sure the White House's phone number was in the phone book and answered all of the calls himself; interesting to note, he also answered his own doorbell.
    • "Schott's Miscellany" includes a description of Presidential meet-and-greets: everybody (from foreign aristocrats to poor folks) gathered in a waiting room, lined up. They would then file through the meeting chamber, shake hands with the President and maybe exchange a few words, and file out. To be clear, there was no vetting process, no verification of why one wanted to meet the President, or what one intended to say to him. President William McKinley was assassinated during just such an event at the 1901 Pan-American Exposition, and James Garfield was assassinated while walking unguarded into a crowded train station. In fact, Garfield's assassin had earlier gained entrance to the White House and met Garfield (he was trying to get a diplomatic post).
    • There was a time when anyone could walk up to the front door of the White House and knock. Exactly when this stopped is up to some debate - during the Civil War or World War II, but the fact is you once could. You still can! Provided you take the tour though. The end is an exit through the front door.
    • As late as the 1950s, Harry Truman was taking morning strolls about town, accompanied by only a single guard. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the era of semi-unfettered (semi-fettered?) access to the President ended with the assassination of John F. Kennedy.
  • At the closing ceremony of the 1912 Olympic Games in Stockholm, Swedish King Gustav V praised American Jim Thorpe as the greatest athlete in the world. Thorpe's response? "Thanks, King!"
    • His son Gustaf VI faced even more informality after The World Cup in 1958: once he went down to the pitch to salute the victorious Brazilian team, the team dentist hugged him while saying "Hey King! How you doin'?".
  • Charlemagne to a great extent. As well as dressing very much like a commoner, it is also said of him that he would happily dine with commoners and he held education in such high esteem that he would sometimes sit in a schoolroom along with the children learning there.
  • Alfred the Great once had a set of petitioners follow him into his private chamber - in those days a separate building - and interrupt him while he was washing his face. He calmly toweled himself off while listening to their problem.
  • During the German occupation of Denmark in World War II, King Christian X took a daily ride through the streets of Copenhagen, unaccompanied. A German soldier is supposed to have asked "Who guards your King?", to which the response was "We all do."note .
  • The original word King comes from the Germanic form meaning "leader of kin" or chieftain in other words. Germanic "Kings" were expected to party with their warriors and share out spoil with them. The poetic name for King is "ring-giver" meaning they gave out rewards to their followers including rings, an item of jewelry which had a mystic significance because of it's unending circularity and which was often attached to swords. The idea expected was a Barbarian Hero leading a Barbarian Tribe, rather then the center of an extravagant display of ceremony.
  • Vladimir Lenin suffered a lot from his "What's up, Premier Dude" attitude in the middle of a civil war; one time, some gangbangers kicked him out of his car, the other time he was shot, fell ill because of the complications and died soon after. His successor, on the other hand, was very paranoid and anal about security.
    • "Lenin and petitioners" was a stock scene depicted in Soviet art and theater. Apparently he received a lot of petitioning and complaining peasants.
  • Modern Scandinavian monarchies are very austere and down to earth, and the monarchs freely mingle with their people. They do maintain protocol as far as addressing them go. Adressing them by the folksy "Du" ("You"), as opposed to the honorific "De", will often result in a sharp rebuke.
  • Norwegian kings (at least, Olav and Harald), are known for their commonality, and Olav V was notorious. A story goes that he was on a military parade, and asked for a smoke. When requested what kind of cigarette, he answered bluntly "Hell, whatever, as long as it smokes..." Olav was loved for his ability to talk and converse with (almost) everyone. As for the Norwegian queen: she actually asked a journalist to drop the honorifics and adress her with the commmon "du" (she is, after all, born a commoner, although of the medium wealthy kind). After this, most journalists avoid the problem by using a roundabout adressing: "do the king enjoy himself?" Queen Margrethe of Denmark is somewhat more pert on this subject.
  • Many small countries have this kind of attitude toward their top people; for example, it is not very difficult for just about anyone to meet with the Prime Minister of Iceland.
  • In 1991, Washington, D.C. resident Alice Frazier greeted Queen Elizabeth II with a folksy "How are ya doin'?" and then pulled her into a hug. The queen smiled and quickly backed out of it. British sticklers for protocol were horrified and outraged, for one simply does not touch the queen. But it was Ms. Frazier's custom to greet every visitor to her home with a big warm hug, and she wasn't about to make any exceptions.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WhatsUpKingDude