Cassandra stared, taking another cookie.
"Anyway, according to this book, a lady-in-waiting's duties include teaching me manners, languages, and dances prevalent at court; reading and composing correspondence — though, honestly, I don't know who's going to write me a letter; painting, which I love with my whole heart; horseback riding — sign me up! music and participation in other queenly pastimes. There's also care of my wardrobe — I'm not too into clothes, so let's not worry about that; matters of diplomacy; supervision of servants; keeping me informed about everything that's happening at court; and discreetly relaying messages upon command. But I'm not exactly the type to give commands. I guess you could say we have a lot of work ahead of us."
Cassandra had placed the cookie on her lap and was growing paler by the second.
A lady-in-waiting is a personal assistant to a queen, princess, or noblewoman at court. They are often of noble birth themselves but are usually from a lower social rank than the woman they are attending to.
The duties of a lady-in-waiting can vary greatly, as can their relationship with their mistress. They will often help her get dressed, get food, and prepare her for bed, while also accompanying her during courtly activities like dancing or horse riding. Depending on how much the mistress trusts her ladies-in-waiting, they could pass on secret messages for her or act as spies on other members of the court. Ladies-in-waiting can be either viewed as friends by the mistress, or simple tools to use however she sees fit.
If a lady-in-waiting has a close physical resemblance to their mistress, she may be utilized as a Body Double to throw off possible assassination attempts.
If the lady-in-waiting is older, she may be part of a Maid and Maiden duo.
Other terms that are used instead of lady-in-waiting include lady-of-honor, handmaiden, and lady attendant.
- Pictured above: In Aldnoah.Zero, Eddelrittuo works as the companion of Princess Asseylum and later, of Asseylum's half-sister and Body Double Princess Lemrina.
- In Kaguya-sama: Love is War, Ai Hayasaka is the daughter of a branch director of the Shinomiya Group, the richest and most powerful corporation in Japan, and serves as the personal attendant to Kaguya Shinomiya, the daughter of the corporation's president.
- The Rose of Versailles:
- One of the main antagonists is Martine Gabrielle de Polastron, a.k.a. the Countess of Polignac, lady-in-waiting to Marie Antoinette and the long-lost mother of Rosalie, Oscar's own sort-of lady-in-waiting.
- Earlier, during Louis XV's reign, Oscar was dragged in the conflict between the Countess DuBarry, the King's officially recognized mistress, and Marie Antoinette, then merely the Dauphine (wife of the heir). The former tried to earn Oscar's support by having her mother appointed as her lady-in-waiting; Marie Antoinette responded by doing the same, leading to Louis XV giving Oscar's mother the right to choose which place she wanted. As they all knew this was actually about Oscar, Lady Jarjayes made her choose, with Oscar choosing Marie Antoinette because she knew that while DuBarry at the moment was the most powerful, Marie Antoinette would win in the long term simply by becoming Queen of France, an event she expected would come relatively soon due to Louis XV's advanced age (he would indeed die in about two years).
- The Twelve Kingdoms:
- The deaths of two ladies-in-waiting have very important consequences for the Kingdom of Hou. They were mother and daughter, and both worked as companions for the the cruel Queen Consort and the spoiled Princess Shoukei. The Queen framed the mother for corruption and got her and her daughter executed for such a "crime," out of jealousy because the daughter was more talented than the Princess. This was the cherry on top of the royal family's already present sins that were driving Hou to ruin, causing Governor Gekkei to lead a revolution that finished with the royal couple and their kirin dead, and with Shoukei as a Sole Survivor who goes through quite the Break the Haughty.
- And later, a now much Older and Wiser Shoukei and a peasant girl named Suzu Ooki become ladies-in-waiting to Youko/Sekishi, the Queen of Kei.
- The Creepy Twins Hien and Souhi can be seen as this for Hinoto in X/1999. Hinoto isn't exactly a noblewoman but actually the leader of the Dragons of the Heaven, but she's referred to as "princess" and since she's also a deaf/mute/crippled Ill Girl, the twins are always by her side.
- Yuri Ishtar from Red River (1995) has several ladies in waiting, as it befits her position as Kail's lover and partner. Three of them are sisters as well as Action Girls (the Lady of War Hadi and the Cute Bruisers Shala and Ryuhi), the other two are Princess Alexandra from the Arzawa lands and a commoner girl named Ursula who later pulls an Heroic Sacrifice to help Yuri when she's falsely accused of murder.
- In Saint Seiya: Soul of Gold, a young woman named Lyfia starts as Princess Hilda's lady-in-waiting before she becomes the protagonist of the series.
- Cross Ange has Momoka, Princess Angelise/Ange's former lady-in-waiting. Momoka is so loyal to Ange that even after Ange is revealed to be a Norma, disinherited, and sent into exile at Arzenal, Momoka follows her to continue serving her. Normally, she wouldn't have been allowed to do that, but Ange exploits a legal loophole to allow Momoka to stay with her. She even tries a Mutual Kill with Embryo and herself out of affection for Ange, and barely survives.
- "Las Meninas◊" by Diego Velasquez depicts the princess of Spain with her Ladies-of-Honor, another term for a lady-in-waiting.
- Bequeathed from Pale Estates: Lyarra Snow has three ladies-in-waiting:
- Her sister Arya Stark, because it's traditional for a Dornish bride to surround herself with her sisters while she's acclimating to her new home. She acts her caretaker so her pregnant sister won't overtax herself and as a bodyguard.
- Gwyn Parren, one of Winterfell's fosterlings and Lyarra's best friend. She cooks and finds food Lyarra and her party, she helps makes clothes for her and helps her dress and style herself and acts as Lyarra's spy and accountant.
- Walda Frey who was rewarded for defending Lyarra against her own family when the Freys tried attacking the Stark-Martell party. Walda's kindness and cheerfulness bring some much need levity to the group.
- Lady Cluck to Maid Marian in the Disney version of Robin Hood. In their first scene, they are playing badminton and Cluck jokes, "As your lady-in-waiting, I'm waiting."
- Daisy Duck plays this role to Princess Minnie in Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers. While trying to keep Minnie focused on marrying into nobility, she is her best friend and supporter. She later becomes part of a Beta Couple with Donald, despite his lack of noble birth.
- Star Wars: Padmé Amidala's handmaidens in The Phantom Menace and Attack of the Clones serve as both attendants and decoys for her. They're also trained in combat and fight alongside her during the Battle of Naboo.
- In The Other Boleyn Girl Mary Boleyn is added as a short-lived lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon. This was Truth in Television.
- In the Disney version of The ThreeM usketeers, Constance Bonacieux specifically refers to herself as a lady in waiting to the Queen of France.
- In the camp classic Cobra Woman Naja, the Cobra Queen, has six female attendants whose duties include intricately choreographed dance routines during cobra ceremonies.
- As in Real Life, Marie Antoinette is attended by her two closest friends, the Princesse de Lamballe and the Duchesse de Polignac.
- The Favourite is about Sarah, lady-in-waiting to Queen Anne, having her position of Royal Favorite challenged and eventually overtaken by her cousin Abigail. Sarah actually does most of the work of governing the country, which the queen has little gumption for.
- In Ophelia, Queen Gertrude has several ladies-in-waiting, the most prominent of which are Ophelia, the main character whom she views as something of a surrogate daughter, and Christina, Ophelia's main rival who later replaces her as the queen's favourite.
- In the live-action version of Aladdin, Princess Jasmine has a handmaiden named Dalia, who serves as her confidante and becomes one half of a Beta Couple with the Genie. She at one point pretends to be Jasmine, who doesn't get to leave the palace much and doesn't want Aladdin to know who she really is, which is Played for Laughs on account of Dalia's Bad "Bad Acting".
- In The Handmaiden, Sook-hee is employed as a maid/companion for Lady Hideko. She's secretly helping con her into marrying Fujiwara, who intends to commit her to an asylum once he's got her fortune. However, matters are complicated when Sook-hee finds herself falling in love with Hideko.
- In A Song of Ice and Fire, several ladies-in-waiting serve as minor characters who attend to more major characters. Not surprisingly for this series, they tend to meet with some misfortune due to their positions.
- Queen Cersei Lannister has several attendants, including Jocelyn Swyft.
- Margaery Tyrell has several ladies-in-waiting, including her cousins Megga, Elinor, and Alla. When Cersei frames Margaery for having sex with several men, she likewise frames her cousins since they never leave Margaery's side.
- Lady Ashara Dayne was a lady-in-waiting for Princess Elia Martell. This placed her at the Tourney at Harrenhall, where she became pregnant by an unknown man (rumored to be a Stark). She lost the baby at birth, and this, along with the death of her elder brother Ser Arthur Dayne, the Sword of the Morning, led to her suicide.
- In Gleams of Aeterna, Louise Aramona, one of the narrators, and her daughter Celine end up as ladies-in-waiting first of Aeris Oakdell (sister of Duke Richard Oakdell) and then of Queen Catherine, all on a whim of the inscrutable yet all-powerful Duke Roque Alva.
- In The War of the Ancients, Queen Azshara, has a retinue of handmaidens, all of whom dye their hair silver to match that of their queen, but none of them can compare with Azshara's overwhelming beauty.
- In the Doubled Edge novels by Mercedes Lackey, most of young Elizabeth's ladies in waiting are spying on her for other factions.
- In the Sissi novels by several authors, Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary (aka Sissi) has several noblewomen as her ladies-in-waiting. One of them is the Italian countess Paola di Bellegarde whom Sissi hooks up with the Count of Königsegg-Aulendorf in one of the books.
- In Seraphina, Princess Glisselda spends most of her time with her favourite lady-in-waiting, Milliphrene, whom she nicknames 'Millie'.
- In the Protector of the Small quartet, Yukimi noh Daiomoru and Haname noh Ajikuro are the ladies-in-waiting to Princess Shinkokami.
- Journey to Chaos: Princess (later Queen) Kasile of Ataidar has a gaggle of ladies following her around. Among their duties are making sure she looks appropriately royal, even after she's stabbed through the chest during an attempted coup.
- Millie Chillum in Lords and Ladies, who is totally overawed at being in the presence of the (soon-to-be) Queen, which Magrat finds rather odd since she's known the girl her whole life.
- The Imperial palace and assorted princely and noble households in The Tale of Genji simply overflow with numerous ladies in waiting. The author of the Tale, Murasaki Shikibu, was a real-life lady in waiting.
- In Queen Without a Country from The Royal Diaries, Mary Queen of Scots has four of these with her in the French court. They are all named Mary, and she refers to them as her lucky four-leaf clover.
- Queen Ehlana, of the Elenium series, isn't particularly fond of noblewomen. Her closest attendant is the giantess Mirtai, whom she purchased from a slave merchant with the intent of freeing her. Mirtai, who comes from a race of people who consider freedom to be dangerous, prefers to continue regarding the Queen as her owner; this does not, however, stop her from outright bullying Ehlana into doing things like dressing more warmly and eating properly.
- Rapunzel and the Lost Lagoon: This trope is discussed in the novel Rapunzel and the Lost Lagoon between Princess Rapunzel and a reluctant Cassandra, whose dream is to be a Royal Guard and not a Royal Servant. The appointing of Cassandra as Rapunzel lady-in-waiting kick off the plot, and Princess Rapunzel quotes a book about the duties of a lady-in-waiting to a reluctant Cassandra.
- Many of the major and supporting characters in The Lady Grace Mysteries are ladies in service to Queen Elizabeth I, including the main protagonist herself. To be technical Grace's title is "Maid of Honor", which in this context is a term used for a junior lady-in-waiting (she's an unmarried teenager); her position and role at court is otherwise identical.
- Our Miss Brooks: In "King and Brooks", Miss Brooks' dream sequence features several ladies-in-waiting serving her.
- In The Tudors a large proportion of Henry VIII's mistresses come from his various wives' ladies-in-waiting, as well as two of his wives themselves (Anne Boleyn and Jane Seymour).
- In The Sarah Jane Adventures, Rani becomes a lady-in-waiting to the ill-fated Lady Jane Grey, the Nine Days Queen, while time traveling. She claims to be "Lady Rani of the Court of the Taj Mahal", in order to Hand Wave the fact that she's claiming to be a gentlewoman despite her ethnicity.
- Magnificent Century has lots of these. Daye Hatun is the Valide Sultan's servant, Gülşah is Mahidevran's, Gülnihal and Nilüfer are Hürrem's, Sadıka is the Valide Sultan's and later Hatice's
- On Reign, Mary Stuart's historical 'four Maries' are renamed Greer, Kenna, Lola, and Aylee. God Help Us.
- Guinevere from Merlin acts as one to Lady Morgana, though she's only a blacksmith's daughter and is referred to as a maidservant.
- In Pacific Mythology, the other three Snow Maidens, Lilinoe, Kahoupokane, and Waia'u, serve as this to their sister Poli'ahu. Lilinoe styes Poli'ahu's hair, Waia'u bathes her, and Kahoupokane is in charge of laundry.
- From the Book of Genesis: Hagar is this to Sarah, Zilpah is this to Leah, and Bilhah is this to Rachel. (Some say that Zilpah and Bilhah were in fact half-sisters of Leah and Rachel, though this is uncertain.) All are used as Chosen Conception Partners when their mistresses get slammed by the Law of Inverse Fertility, in keeping with the Code of Hammurabi. Hagar's son Ishmael becomes an important patriarch to Muslims after he and his mother get sent away by Sarah. Zilpah's sons Gad and Asher and Bilhah's sons Dan and Naphtali later start four of Israel's Twelve Tribes.
- In Classical Mythology, the Charites served as the handmaidens to Aphrodite, most notably in the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite.
- Hera's daughter, Hebe, served as her mother's handmaiden in the Iliad, which was likely a role performed by unmarried daughters in Homeric society.
- Given the time period he wrote in, it's not surprising that a lot of these have supporting roles in Shakespeare plays (although not as many as one might expect, given the number of royals and nobles he depicts):
- In Twelfth Night, Maria is a gentlewoman to Olivia, the highest-ranking female noble in Illyria. At the end of the play, it is announced that Sir Toby Belch has married Maria offstage, which simply wouldn't have happened if she was a commoner maid.
- Hero in Much Ado About Nothing has Margaret and Ursula. This one uses a variant on the Body Double concept, as Margaret apparently resembles Hero enough that Don John uses her in a plot to convince Hero's fiancé that she's unfaithful.
- Portia in The Merchant of Venice has Nerissa, who becomes a Wholesome Crossdresser along with her mistress.
- The Princess of France in Love's Labour's Lost has Rosaline, Katherine, and Maria. Unusual for Shakespeare in that Rosaline, not the Princess, is part of the lead couple.
- Cleopatra has Charmian and Iras, who are loyal enough to follow Cleopatra into death.
- Emilia plays this role for Desdemona in Othello, as the wife of a military officer attending on the wife of a higher-ranking officer.
- Princess Katherine in Henry V learns English from her lady-in-waiting Alice.
- In The Marriage of Figaro, Figaro's sweetheart Susanna works as Countess Rosina's handmaid. Then, the Count of Almaviva starts courting her and creating obstacles to her and Figaro's relationship. The plot of both the play and the opera relays on pretty much everyone brewing a Xanatos Gambit to get the Count to stop.
- In one of the multiple endings of Princess Maker 2, the daughter of the game ends up working as the lady-in-waiting to the Queen. Technically speaking, however, she can sort-of unofficially play the role by sneaking into the palace and managing to talk to either the Royal Concubine or the Queen if she has the traits needed (Conversation/Speech for the first, Temperance/Personality for the second).
- Diablo III: Queen Asylla, wife of King Leoric, had some handmaidens who were imprisoned and killed along with her as Leoric fell into madness and paranoia. They were later re-animated by dark magic and rose as the Wretched Mothers, Stripperiffic Stringy Haired Ghost Girls with the dangerous ability to regurgitate monsters. They're led by the Wretched Queen, who once was the first handmaid of the unfortunate Asylla.
- Fire Emblem:
- In Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem, Linde becomes a mix of this, Number Two and The Apprentice to Princess Nyna. Her lady-in-liege trusts her to the point of handing her the Fire Emblem to give it to Marth.
- In Fire Emblem: The Binding Blade, the White Mage Ellen works as the lady-in-waiting of Rebellious Princess Guinevere of Bern. Again, this is vital to the plot: when both women are cornered by the Bernese military as Guinevere takes the Fire Emblem from her older brother King Zephiel , Ellen manages to escape from their grip and reaches for Roy's Badass Crew, properly bringing them into the plot.
- In Fire Emblem Fates, one can see the relationship between a Female Corrin and her ninja maids Felicia and Flora as this, with them even waking her up in the morning.note
- In Dragon Age: Inquisition (and previously shown in the tie-in novel The Masked Empire), Grand Duchess Florianne de Chalons serves as lady-in-waiting and companion to her cousin, Empress Celene Valmont I; the two are extremely close. This closeness is the reason why no one suspects that Florianne is plotting Celene's murder on behalf of the game's Big Bad.
- In this video shows a reenactment of a noble woman getting ready for her day. Her lady-in-waiting is shown demonstrating how one would assist her mistress.
- In Jane and the Dragon, Jane's mother, Adeline, is a lady-in-waiting. Jane was originally to become a lady-in-waiting as well, if not for her leaping at the opportunity to become a squire instead.
- In Tangled: The Series, Cassandra is supposed to fill this role regarding Rapunzel, as the daughter of a royal retainer who is tasked with keeping company to the local Princess.
- The Other Wiki has a list of some ladies who have been this throughout history. Some of these include: the aforementioned Comtesse de Polignac and Princess of Lamballe (France); writers and rivals Murasaki Shikibu and Sei Shonagon, plus Masako Touzuka aka Lady Saigou, Lady Yoshiko Nakayama and Lady Naruko Yanagihara among others (Japan); the also aforementioned Paola di Bellegarde alongside Countess Wulff, Sofia Esterhàzy-Liechtenstein and Countess Caroline Lamberg (Austro-Hungarian Empire), four of Henry VIII's six wives (Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Catherine Howard, and Catherine Parr) (England), Lady and later Queen Consort Hui-bin Jang (Korea), Christina Augusta von Fersen/Loewenheim (Sweden), etc.