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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.
Princess Rapunzel, Rapunzel and the Lost Lagoon

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, serve food to her room, and prepare her for bed, while also accompanying her during courtly activities like dancing lessons or horse riding. Depending on how much the mistress trusts her ladies-in-waiting, they could be her confidante, pass on secret messages for her, or spy on other members of the court. Ladies-in-waiting can be either viewed as friends by the mistress or as 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 or to help the lady slip out of the castle for a secret rendezvous.

If the lady-in-waiting is older, she may be a Matron Chaperone and part of a Maid and Maiden duo.

Distaff Counterpart to The Squire.

Other terms that are used instead of lady-in-waiting include maid-of-honor, handmaiden, and lady’s maid. The difference between a maid-of-honor and a lady-in-waiting is that a maid-of-honor is young and unmarried, while a lady-in-waiting is a married adult.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. She later retires from the role during the Class Trip arc.
  • 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.
  • 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 into 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).
  • 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.
  • The Twelve Kingdoms:
  • 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 girl, the twins are always by her side.

  • Las Meninas by Diego Velázquez depicts the princess of Spain with her Ladies-of-Honor, another term for a lady-in-waiting.

    Fan Works 
  • 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. Arya acts as 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 for Lyarra and her party, helps make clothes for her, helps Lyarra 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.

    Film — Animation 
  • 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.
  • Lady Kluck to Maid Marian in the Disney version of Robin Hood (1973). In their first scene, they are playing badminton and Kluck jokes, "As your lady-in-waiting, I'm waiting."

    Film — Live-Action 
  • 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 camp classic Cobra Woman Naja, the Cobra Queen, has six female attendants whose duties include intricately choreographed dance routines during cobra ceremonies.
  • 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 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.
  • Marie Antoinette (2006): Marie Antoinette is attended by her two closest friends, the Princesse de Lamballe and the Duchesse de Polignac.
  • 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 Other Boleyn Girl Mary Boleyn is added as a short-lived lady-in-waiting to Queen Catherine of Aragon. This was Truth in Television.
  • 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 Disney version of The Three Musketeers, Constance Bonacieux specifically refers to herself as a lady-in-waiting to the Queen of France.

  • The Afterward: Kalanthe hired Triana, a lady's maid, to dress and make her up for the king's court after she returned from the quest. When she moves to her fiance Sir Edramore's estate, she's assigned to have another, a girl named Ayera.
  • The Chronicles of Dorsa: Mylla, Tasia's handmaid at the beginning. They're also lovers, and the fact handmaids even sleep in the same bed as their mistresses helps disguise the fact.
  • The plot of The Door in the Wall is kicked off when both of the child protagonist's parents (who are minor nobles) are summoned to service — his father to the army, his mother to wait on the Queen.
  • In the Doubled Edge novels by Mercedes Lackey, most of young Elizabeth's ladies-in-waiting are spying on her for other factions.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! has Anne, who serves as Catarina's personal maid and confidante. As the (illegitimate) daughter of a baron, she's considered lower nobility, in line with what ladies-in-waiting were in real life.
  • In the Protector of the Small quartet, Yukimi noh Daiomoru and Haname noh Ajikuro are the ladies-in-waiting to Princess Shinkokami.
  • The Queen of Ieflaria: Princess Esofi is accompanied by several ladies in waiting, who are friends of hers too. One of them, Lexandrie, is also her cousin. Another, Lisette, is also her bodyguard.
  • 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's lady-in-waiting kicks off the plot, and Princess Rapunzel quotes a book about the duties of a lady-in-waiting to a reluctant Cassandra.
  • Shouxue, the titular Raven consort in Raven of the Inner Palace, only reluctantly takes on a lady-in-waiting because the Raven consort is supposed to be forever alone. However, the young lady she takes on, Jiujiu, ends up becoming her closest friend and confidant, as well as a major character in her story,
  • 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.
  • In Seraphina, Princess Glisselda spends most of her time with her favourite lady-in-waiting, Milliphrene, whom she nicknames 'Millie'.
  • 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 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.
  • 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 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Confessions of Frannie Langton: Benham had Frannie be his wife Marguerite's lady's maid so he could look good and dispel reports of cruelty on his slave plantation in Jamaica, where Frannie's from.
  • The Empress: Several accomplished ladies from the Austrian empire's preeminent families are called to serve as the new Empress Elisabeth's court ladies. This position is exploited by Ava, who impersonates a countess and becomes one of Sisi's ladies to achieve revolutionary goals.
  • House of the Dragon: Alicent serves as this in all but name to Princess Rhaenyra; she's one of her closest companions, accompanies her to formal events and hangs out with her in private, assists in her studies and helps her dress for the ceremony where the princess is declared Viserys' heir. Alicent herself is highborn and her father is the king's top advisor, though she's not as high-ranking as Rhaenyra.
  • 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…
  • Guinevere from Merlin acts as one to Lady Morgana, though she's only a blacksmith's daughter and is referred to as a maidservant.
  • Our Miss Brooks: In "King and Brooks", Miss Brooks' dream sequence features several ladies-in-waiting serving her.
  • On Reign, Mary Stuart's historical 'four Maries' are renamed Greer, Kenna, Lola, and Aylee. God Help Us.
  • 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.
  • 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).

    Myths & Religion 
  • 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.

  • In Antony and Cleopatra, Cleopatra has Charmian and Iras, who are loyal enough to follow Cleopatra into death.
  • Princess Katherine in Henry V learns English from her lady-in-waiting Alice.
  • 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.
  • 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 relies on pretty much everyone brewing a Xanatos Gambit to get the Count to stop.
  • Portia in The Merchant of Venice has Nerissa, who becomes a Wholesome Crossdresser along with her mistress.
  • 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.
  • In Once Upon a Mattress, the female ensemble is ladies-in-waiting of the queen and eventually Winnifred. Sir Harry's girlfriend, Larken, is also a lady in waiting.
  • Emilia plays this role for Desdemona in Othello, as the wife of a military officer attending on the wife of a higher-ranking officer.
  • 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.

    Video Games 

    Web Videos 
  • 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.

    Western Animation 
  • 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.

     Real Life 
  • 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.