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Modest Royalty

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She decrees that every day is Casual Friday.

"[Conan's] garments were of rich fabric, but simply made. He wore no ring or ornaments, and his square-cut black mane was confined merely by a cloth-of-silver band about his head."

This is the opposite of the Ermine Cape Effect, where persons in power, usually members of the royal family or the ruling monarch, prefer very simple clothing and will often refuse to wear anything but the simplest crown. They still won't dress like slobs or peasants — that would be King Incognito. You might mistake them for well-mannered commoners in the right situation. Color-Coded Patrician is possible.

Sometimes the Princess Classic can go this way, but a Rebellious Princess almost always will. The Boisterous Bruiser, if a royal, usually does; fancy clothing interferes with drinking life to the lees. It's not uncommon to see the King walk the streets as a King Incognito while their Decoy Leader handles the day-to-day.

This trope is usually confined to good fictional royalty. Evil royalty tend to go overboard with their costumes and impressive crowns, to emphasize that they are tyrants who like to lord their wealth over everyone else. Common exceptions are conquerors from Proud Warrior Races and Barbarian Tribes, who tend to dress in a simple but badass fashion, and those who insist they are Just the First Citizen. A possible example of this exception might be a Magnificent Bastard who dresses his Praetorian Guard up in gorgeous Bling of War to emphasize his power while he wears grimly simple garb himself to emphasize what a badass he is.

Largely Truth in Television, if only because you'd have to be extremely sybaritic to walk around every day wearing a fortune in irreplaceable jewelry and fancy clothes, although in the past, some came close. This is especially true if the royals actually personally lead armies or otherwise do something useful besides running the country. It's also necessary if a royal wants to avoid getting assassinated by dressing in a manner that gives them away.

There is even a correlation with good monarchs: all those dresses, furs, and jewelry cost money, which had to come from taxes, unless the monarch is a miser or exports some natural resource over which the state has a monopoly. However, those monarchies tend to become corrupt, too.

Compare Royals Who Actually Do Something, Simple, yet Opulent, Just the First Citizen, Affluent Ascetic and Spoiled Sweet.

Contrast with the Ermine Cape Effect, Costume Porn, Pimped-Out Dress, Bling of War, and some other Luxury Tropes.

Unrelated to publishing deals that make the writer a Starving Artist.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Princess Fala (Allura) of GoLion (Voltron). When not wearing her floor-length pink dress, she goes with a jumpsuit and small tiara.
  • Negima! Magister Negi Magi: Multiple, technically:
    • Konoka Konoe. The class's other Ojou is willing to spend the most ridiculous sums of money for whatever reason and has upgraded her dorm room to be twice as large as the standard (though in one episode of the first TV series, she took the subway with Asuna while dressed in a typical teen's shirt, jeans, and sneakers). Meanwhile Konoka (who's even richer) chooses to live as the other students and has so far used her vast fortune at least once in the series (to gain help for her friends from a miserly Boisterous Bruiser). Konoka specifically concealed it from the class that she was so rich at all (since they never asked).
    • Asuna also dresses modestly, in part because she actually doesn't know she's a princess.
    • Negi, a royal who was raised after their kingdom fell in a fairly austere setting.
  • One Piece:
    • Princess Nefertari Vivi of Alabasta. Granted the majority of her time onscreen was infiltrating an underground criminal organization that was trying to take over her kingdom and later fighting alongside the Straw Hats as an honorary crew mate, but she's only ever shown once in a Pimped-Out Dress and that was for an official occasion. Mostly she's seen wearing comfortable and practical clothes for everyday duties. To some extent, Dalton from Drum Kingdom, but then again he didn't inherit the throne and doesn't like to be called "King" to begin with.
    • Donquixote Doflamingo, the (now former) king of Dressrosa, is a double subversion. His main outfit is extravagant all right, but it's definitely not something you'd expect a king to wear either.
  • Sailor Moon: Queen Serenity and her daughter have fairly simple dresses as anime royalty goes, even Chibi Usa's princess dress in the manga is pretty modest, if you ignore the colour and frills. Even their jewelry is understated: Neo-Queen Serenity's crown (which is more like a tiara in the manga) isn't excessive and that's about the most ornate thing any of them appears with, minus the scepters, of course.
  • Shogun Yoshimune in Ōoku: The Inner Chambers has a very informal style, going so far as to conduct business in her pajamas and dragging members of her harem into convenient rooms or bushes on a whim. It's good to be the shogun. Yoshimune actually weaponized this by using it as a pretext to dismiss Akifusa Manabe from office, when Manabe said that she was now shogun, not just a lord of some backwater, and should dress the part. Granted, Manabe also tried to prevent Yoshimune from becoming shogun, but this was the excuse Yoshimune used.
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: The titular character always chooses practical clothes for flight, exploration and combat. At the beginning she wears the same uniform as the old male pilots of her valley.
  • Relena Peacecraft from Mobile Suit Gundam Wing tends to wear modest clothing in her everyday life, and even during the period where she was ruler of her own nation she alternated between a modestly fancy outfit for formal occasions and the local school uniform for day-to-day wear. The fanciest she gets is this dress, worn during the four episodes/two weeks in-universe where she was Queen of the World.
  • Queen Diana Soriel of ∀ Gundam dresses in a very practical manner that seems to prize function over fashion: she wears a rather plain black and white uniform with pants rather than a dress, and while she does have very long hair, she keeps it heavily gelled so that it stays in place in zero gravity. The fact that she's the only one who wears anything remotely like this uniform implies that it's the standard Moonrace royal garb.
  • Queen Millennia has this for pretty much the entire royal family: Yayoi and later her sister usually walks around in "normal" Earth clothes in order to keep up the masquerade, but even the royal clothes are subdued. The queen has a cool lightshow but when she leaves it, it turns out she is wearing only a similar version and a very un-fancy helmet.
  • Fushigi Yuugi: Although Hotohori is always well-dressed (and interested in fashion), he doesn't wear anything too fancy most of the time.
  • In Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha ViVid, flashbacks show that Sankt Kaiser Olivie Sägebrecht and Hegemon Claus Ingvalt commonly wear outfits reminiscent of warriors and knights rather than kings. Even Olivie's more formal outfits are simple dresses.
  • The Rose of Versailles:
    • King Louis XVI dresses very simply unless he's on an official occasion (as his coronation or the inauguration of the Estates-General, the only occasions he doesn't wear plain clothing). Even then he'll sometimes wear simple clothing (when ordering the National Assembly to revert to the Estates-General, for example).
    • Maria Theresa of Austria always wears simple dresses, with only a purple sash, earrings and a diadem, plus her own dignity, to announce she is the Empress of the Holy Roman Empire. She considers this as the only appropriate style for a sovereign, due to her belief that a true queen shouldn't need to wear extravagant clothing and that dressing modestly will bring out her natural beauty. She's appalled when she sees a portrait of her daughter Marie Antoinette wearing one of her preferred Pimped Out Dresses as the Queen of France, even saying she looks more like a gaudily-dressed actress than a queen.
    • In the sequel Eikou no Napoleon - Eroica Napoleon distinguishes himself from both other royals and his own Marshals by wearing the basic artillery officer uniform almost the entire time. The only time he wears rich clothing is his coronation as Emperor of the French.
  • Area 88: Justified with Saki Vashtal who is a prince of Asran while also commanding the mercenary base at Area 88. He is the son of Prince Abdael, who was passed over for kingship in favor of his brother Zak. Abdael turned traitor, becoming leader of the anti government forces. Saki either dresses in regular military fatigues, a flightsuit, or a simple shirt and tie. Additionally, despite being royalty, in the Asran military, Saki is only a Lt. Colonel and not even a full Colonel, let alone a Brigadier General. He's not a crown prince so Saki has no real reason to wear more princely garb, and especially since Asran is supposed to be a poor country, he probably hasn't got the means to.
  • Queen Aoi in the second series of Space Pirate Mito, queen of the galaxy, wants no part of the office and goes to great lengths to play the role of the Ordinary High-School Student she once was until finally dissolving the monarchy.
  • Castle Town Dandelion features the Sakurada family, who're technically the royal family of the country, and yet mostly live like a typical middle-income family: they have a two-floor house in the suburbs, the kids go to a public school, and barring the fact that dad Souichiro still commutes with a motorcade, and he often forgets to take off the crown from his head while at home, would easily pass for a salaryman.
  • Empress Yui of Regalia: The Three Sacred Stars lives and dresses like a fairly normal highschool student most of the time.
  • The Reiss Family in Attack on Titan appears to be this; while we only see a few members more than once, they all seem to dress simply, though this could be because they were hiding their royalty and masquerading as just minor nobles and Historia wasn't raised as a royal and was forced to hide the fact that she even was a Reiss due to her illegitimacy.
  • The titular character of Fena: Pirate Princess is this, spending most of the series in completely normal clothes. The fanciest thing she wears is the gown from her failed wedding and the gown she wears as The Maiden of Choosing. Subverted a bit since she was unaware of her royal heritage until recently.
    • Abel is a more straight example, having been raised as a prince but still favoring normal clothing. Though his blue naval uniform is nice-looking, it's no fancier than his fellow officers' uniforms.
  • Van Fanel (as did the rest of the Fanelian royal family, as seen in flashbacks) in The Vision of Escaflowne dresses very plainly, to the point that people outside of Fanelia — noble and peasant alike — don't even realize he's royalty unless someone points it out.
  • Princess Krystal Novaty Nokanatika of Tales of Wedding Rings spent ten years living incognito in Japan as an ordinary high schooler named Hime Nokana. She continues to wear her high school uniform on most occasions after returning to her world, putting on more fancy outfits only when required.
  • Code Geass zig-zags this. Plenty of members of the Britannian Royal family dress rather modestly consisdering their status - however this is justified for various reasons such as piloting Humongous Mecha (Cornelia), being undercover (Lelouch and Nunnally), or otherwise slightly fancier looking everyday attire. When the characters appear in more fancy looking outfits, they are generally doing things royals would do such as making public appearances and ruling.

    Card Games 
  • In the Rider-Waite Tarot deck, the Pentacles (or Disks, or Coins) suit relates to wealth, prosperity, and work. The Queen of Pentacles wears very simple clothing in plain, solid colors — clothes she might have made herself — with only a crown and a cape to indicate that she's anyone special. This is in stark contrast to her husband, the King of Pentacles, who wears long robes, lavishly embroidered with grapes, and a much bigger crown.

    Comic Books 
  • Ka-Zar: Lord Kevin Plunder is of noble blood but no one would ever guess it by how he dresses in just a loincloth.
  • Wonder Woman: Diana may be a princess but her jewelry is usually limited to her tiara, which doubles as a weapon, and her "bracelets" which are unquestionably designed as protective armor rather than for looks and her clothing tends to be jeans or very simple gowns.
  • X-Wing Rogue Squadron: Plourr dresses formally yet simply after taking up her role as the next Empress of Eiattu, wearing fairly masculine clothing to go with her boyish short hair.

    Fan Works 
  • In a But Doctor, I Am Pagliacci chapter from the point of view of Black Adam (here the ruler of Kahndaq), he comments that while he's expected to put on a show for diplomatic purposes, when left to his own devices he prefers to live a more simple life, because he can't really justify to himself being extravagant when his subjects have a lower standard of living.
  • Harry tends towards a mixture of this and King Incognito in Child of the Storm, and tends towards vague embarrassment when he's reminded that he is a Prince of Asgard. Later on, he's less embarrassed about it and more likely to use his position to his advantage in small ways (mainly to help other people), but still tends to dress simply - even when forced into regalia, he sticks to a circlet, and is uncomfortable even with that much.
  • As the Free Folk don't believe in lords or kings, Harry in The Difference One Man Can Make lives and dresses just the same as his people. He does break out the fancy clothes when Lord Stark invites him and his family to a feast in Winterfell but otherwise considers himself merely as a guy helping the Norfolk to become a nation, even if the Seven Kingdoms call him the King-Beyond-the-Wall.
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami: As seen in "Noble Conversations": The new empress, who sees more value in military spending than satorial:
    Iden secretly scoffed at the reaction, which she would have expected from a mere commoner. It fit with Mercury's general appearance. Her dress was of similar quality to what the daughter of a mildly successful merchant would wear - before the guards dragged her away for indecent exposure. That Keeper was insulting proper nobles everywhere by wearing something so scandalously short and clingy in front of her court!
    she wasn't wearing a proper crown - merely a tiara with a large sapphire set in its centre. Was some last shred of decency stopping her from donning all of the trappings of the title she didn't deserve?
  • Echoing Silence: Diadem — formerly Twilight Sparkle — is essentially Princess of the Den, due to being Happily Adopted by the Den's leader, Nereus. However, she is highly embarrassed whenever she's forced by custom to actually dress up and act the part, usually getting by with a cloak at most, no makeup or jewelry, and not liking to be referred to as such.
  • In the Supergirl (2015) AU fic "All will be well, as long as you stay by my side", Lena Luthor is the newly-crowned Queen of Theonia, but she is the descendant of the existing royal family even if she turned against her father and brother. Even after she has been acclaimed as queen by her people, she continues to be relatively discreet about public appearances, to the point where she first met Kara (a visiting foreign journalist) in a manner that led to Kara mistaking Lena for a palace chef before she learned Lena's true identity a few days later. Even when her council are proposing ideas such as putting Lena’s face on the new Theonian currency, Lena refuses to do it immediately and just agrees to table the idea until she’s been queen for five years and then see if people still want it.
  • In Frost Killing Hour, Jack from Rise of the Guardians is Elsa's younger brother and the second-in-line for their kingdom. He's a Rebellious Prince who prefers hoodies and pants.
  • A Growing Affection: The royals of the Land of Fire. When Naruto meets the Daimyo, he is no better dressed than anyone else at the party. And the one time Naruto and Hinata meet Nyoko in her formal, princess get up, Nyoko changes into civilian clothes at the first possible moment (a.k.a. as soon as she can ditch her normal guards).
  • In Naming, the Hyulian royal family dress in "almost drab" garb. The main thing that separates them from their servants is the symbols and small amounts of jewelry (and the current princess doesn't even jewelry outside of her crown). Zelda, who has been asleep for 1000 years, remembers when Hyule has been more prosperous. Since she fell asleep, Hyrule has fallen due to wars and other disasters.
  • The Night Unfurls:
    • The aversion of Requisite Royal Regalia means that the seven Princess Knights would qualify... if one overlooks how their outfits seem to be designed for showing off their bodies/assets.
    • The remastered version tones down the fanservice, putting several of the Princess Knights closer to this trope.
      • For straighter cases, there's Celestine, who wears a shawl and a white robe; Luu-Luu, who is clad in raw animal hide; and Kaguya, who looks like a Miko.
      • Prim is a subversion. She wears a white and pink dress during her first appearance, but the narration describes her dress as "the work of the finest tailors of Feoh and Ur", meaning that she falls into Simple, yet Opulent. Later double subverted as she wears a more practical white dress during the ride to Ken, which would take approximately three to five days.
  • Queens of Mewni:
    • Soupina the Strange, after years of working to help the poor and sick, tended to prefer plainer clothing compared to some of the other queens.
    • Justified with Star's own coronation outfit: by the time she's crowned queen, the Butterfly Kingdom has accrued massive debt after the Cleaving caused the War of Two Worlds, so she probably couldn't afford a grander dress, and considering most of the Mewnian population was killed in said war, it'd probably have been in bad taste to do so as well.
  • RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse: In "At The Grand Galloping Gala": Exaggerated and Invoked by Princess Luna. While Princess Luna usually makes use of the Ermine Cape Effect by dressing up for the big noble parties (and the Gala is the biggest of the big), this time she wants to rebuke the nobility of the Night Court for trying to deny emergency funds to Ponyville after it was hit by an especially nasty and destructive curse. To that end, she not only forgoes the fancy dresses but even lays aside her regalia and turns off her astral mane and tail. The end result is that she looks pretty much like one of the Ponyville residents she invited to the Gala as part of the aforementioned rebuke.
  • Sailor Moon Legends Of Lightstorm: Queen Beryl. Despite being the queen of the Negaverse, the only thing she wears that indicates this is a small tiara-like headpiece with a single jewel. The rest of her clothes resemble armor more than anything else, which is unsurprising considering how leadership in the Negaverse works.
  • In A Young Woman's Political Record, Tanya von Degurechaff, in her position as Germania's Chancellor (Read: Kaiserin of the Resurgent Empire in all but name), prefers to wear simple dresses made by the nuns running the orphanage she was raised in along with a heavier military coat.

    Films — Animation 
  • Disney Animated Canon:
    • Ariel from The Little Mermaid always wears casual attire as a mermaid, and in a notable contrast to her sisters, she prefers a very natural look for her hair, always leaving it down and letting it flow messy and free, and doesn't wear any hair decorations except for tropical flowers by her ear. Even though she wears more tiaras, regal gowns, fancy shoes, and Prim and Proper Buns as a human, she seems to prefer going barefoot with her hair down and wearing the more modest, less regal-looking "Kiss the Girl" dress. Honestly, most of the time she's a mermaid and a human you would never guess she was a princess based on looks alone.
    • Princess Aurora/Briar Rose in Sleeping Beauty. No Giant Poofy Sleeves, a minimum of the Ermine Cape Effect, an elegant but understated tiara... the most remarkable thing about her dress is the war the Fairies fight over what color it's supposed to be. No prizes for which color won out in the movie's merchandise. Her appearances in House of Mouse fit this trope even better, because in them she's ditched her fancy gown altogether and gone back to wearing her old peasant clothes.
    • Aladdin's Princess Jasmine (in her traveling outfit, not her court clothes.)
    • Robin Hood (1973)'s Maid Marian is King Richard's niece, and thus a member of England's royal family, but dresses very simply.
    • Princess Eilonwy, from The Black Cauldron, spends the entire film in a very simple dress, with nothing to indicate that she's anything other than a servant of some kind.
    • Kida's dress at the end of Atlantis: The Lost Empire, which is completely free of any detail except on the sash hanging down from the front of said dress.
    • Cinderella in Cinderella II: Dreams Come True favors simple dresses (including a blue version of her former servant outfit from her first Disney movie).
    • The epilogue of Frozen has Anna go with a rather simple dress.
    • Frozen II shows Elsa in a Simple, yet Opulent purple dress.
    • The Wreck-It Ralph series:
      • The first movie, Wreck-It Ralph: Vanellope prefers casual attire over her original design as Princess of Sugar Rush.
      • The sequel has all the Disney Princesses don extremely modern clothing, which is the result of them meeting Vanellope and becoming friends with her.
  • How to Train Your Dragon: Hiccup, who as the chief's son could technically be considered Viking "royalty", wears the same kind simple outfits as the rest of the Vikings. He's not even treated as the chief's son by anyone except Trader Johnan in the TV series, who calls him "Master Hiccup" as opposed to just "Mr. Whomever" like he calls everyone else. The second film does place more emphasis on Hiccup's role in the clan, especially at the end when he is formally installed as chief, but his outfits don't get any royal upgrades. Even in the third film, where he is explicitly in charge, there's nothing especially standout with regards to his clothing, except when he wears his dragonscale armor.
  • This seems to be the rule for all the Troll Tribe leaders in the Trolls franchise; most of the royal leaders, except the Funk ones, dress casually at all times.
  • Two of the three Holiday Kings we meet in The Nightmare Before Christmas fit this trope, while the third plays with it. The two who play it straight are Jack Skellington, King of Halloween Town, who wears a nice (if creepy) tuxedo but nothing that could be considered royal regalia; and Santa Claus, who wears his traditional cold weather gear. The third is the Easter Bunny, who wears only a sash that says "Happy Easter"...which is still a lot fancier than what you might expect it to wear, considering it's a non-anthropomorphic rabbit.
  • Brave: Merida wears a loose dress for most of the film and never any jewels.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • 300: Multiple:
    • Leonidas. You don't get much simpler than a pair of tight leather shorts and a cape.
    • Queen Gorgo seems to wear lengths of un-dyed wool draped around herself and precariously secured with a few leather straps except for the burgundy number she wears to confront the senate. This is Truth in Television, as female Spartan' dress code dis-encouraged the use of opulent dresses, jewelry and makeup and they tended to dress simply.
  • Dune (1984): Multiple:
    • The Atreides family, who wears uniforms very similar to what their house troops wear:
      • Duke Leto
      • Paul
    • Emperor Shaddam IV similarly wears a Sardaukar uniform.
  • The Great Warrior Skanderbeg: The royal family that the title character belongs to:
    • Skanderbeg himself also favors a casual white vest worn by his countrymen that makes them look just like them, though he does suit up in a very distinctive armor for battle.
    • His sister Mamica is first seen plowing the field and dressing like a peasant girl even though she is a princess.
  • Joanna the Mad: The titular character usually wears simple dresses.
  • The Lord of the Rings:
    • The royalty of Rohan wear clothing and armor that is mostly everyday garb with a little more decoration and no mud on it.
    • Legolas, the Prince of the Woodland Realm, looks generally as modest as the other members of the Fellowship, even when he's not out running around in the mountains and fighting. He always looks neat and pretty, but that's just because he's an elf, but his manner of dress especially contrasts with that of his father, King Thranduil, in the Hobbit movies.
    • Aragorn spends most of the trilogy in a "chosen exile", and so wanders around in his Ranger of the North gear. It's only after the Battle of Minas Tirith is won and Aragorn is king of Gondor again that he switches to finer armour.
  • Marvel Cinematic Universe:
    • Thor: The Dark World: When not in his trademark armor, Thor's clothing on Asgard consists of draping garments in rich but muted colors with no obvious ornamentation.
    • The royal family of Wakanda tends to don fancy clothes mainly for ceremonial purposes or when traveling for official/diplomatic business. While in her lab, Shuri almost always dresses for practicality. When holding council with the tribal elders, T'Challa and Ramonda's clothes are obviously well-made but not laden with decorations (even Ramonda's iconic headdress is rather plain).
  • Star Wars:
    • Princess Leia spends most of her time in either her white Iconic Outfit or more practical clothing.
    • Emperor Palpatine, ruler of the Galaxy, Evil Overlord Supreme? A black robe and hood. Even the crimson-clad bodyguards and personal advisors who accompany him have fancier outfits than he does. This may reflect the fact that he considers himself a Sith first - a Warrior Monk of sorts, for all that he's dedicated to the Dark Side - and Emperor second. He wore more ornate clothing as a scheming politician in the prequel trilogy.
    • Padmé and subsequent Queens of Naboo wear elaborate garb for public functions, but switch to simpler clothes afterwards. Even with the Queens of Naboo, it is implied that half the purpose for their elaborate outfits and makeup is to further facilitate the use of a Body Double.
    • And Dooku too. He isn't called Count for nothing, yet dresses in quite simple black and brown outfits. No regalia, no bling, nothing elaborate.


In General:

  • An early 1900s Afrikaans (South African) short story invokes this. It details a dream in which the protagonist, a farmhand, visits the King (of the British Empire). The King lives in a two-story farmhouse, and the protagonist throws pebbles at the upper bedroom window behind the house to attract the King's attention. He then drinks tea with the King under the large eucalyptus tree in the back yard (the Queen brings the tea tray) and they discuss current affairs. Except for addressing him as "o Koning" ("o King") at every possible opportunity, the King gets no special treatment from the farmhand, and by the former's reactions in the dream, this is apparently accepted protocol.

By Author:

  • A very common trope with David Eddings, whose nobility tend to wear their regalia only when real monarchs would: at formal occasions for dramatic effect. This is probably based on the simple fact that wearing excessively ornate clothing is heavy, uncomfortable, and hot.
    • Notably, near the beginning of the Belgariad, where Anheg, King of Cherek starts talking to Belgarath in a flowery, poetic language. Belgarath then responds with a sort of "what's up with the language, dude?" and the response is "well, we wanted it to look nice in the history books". From there on, though most characters are either royalty or nobility, only very corrupt nobles make a point of wearing their finery.
    • Belgarath himself isn't technically royalty, but is an ancient immortal, the first disciple of the god Aldur, and the most powerful sorcerer in the world. He also has fashion sense and personal hygiene comparable to a hobo. Said hobo outfit was actually made to look scruffy so he could pass as a wandering storyteller. It was custom tailored and is both incredibly comfortable and so well-made it has lasted five centuries.
    • The Malloreon has Emperor Zakath who, in complete contrast to the opulence of the palace he lives in (he inherited it that way rather than creating it to be such), dresses in such a simple white robe that it's easy for him to travel through his empire as a King Incognito (even the streets of his own capital city). And once he grows a beard, even people who had met him in person have trouble recognising him, such is his lack of pomp.
    • Taken to such an extreme with Zakath that his subjects don't recognize or salute him when he passes by: "The Emperor is a man in crimson robes who rides in a golden carriage, wears a terribly heavy jeweled crown, and is accompanied by at least a regiment of imperial guards all blowing trumpets. I'm just a man in white linen riding through town with a few friends." Note that this is not a deliberate case of King Incognito until he joins Garion's travels (and his one amendment to deliberately evoking King Incognito is... to grow a beard).
    • Partially employed in The Elenium; while courtiers are often described wearing ornate and rather ridiculous court fashions, serious or competent nobles tend to downplay their finery to tasteful elegance instead of ermine and other ornate details. In fact, most respectable monarchs are described as disliking court functions precisely because they're so overblown. Ehlana, the Queen of Elenia whom Sparhawk serves as Champion, is an exception; while she dresses sensibly enough, she likes court functions and the Ermine Cape Effect. The narrative explains that this is because of her neglectful and abusive childhood, during which formal court events were the only times anyone treated her with any sort of attention or respect. After they marry, Sparhawk actually has to force his wife to not issue him stylish clothing or a rapier.
      • Thoroughly averted in the same series, in Sparhawk's interactions with the Bhelliom - he has to use formal, archaic patterns of speech and thought or it won't deal with him, because it believes formality helps shape history.
  • Mercedes Lackey loves this one. It's not guaranteed that the fancier a noble's dress the further to the bad s/he is, but it's usually a safe bet:
    • Heralds of Valdemar: These characters, in contrast to Emperor Charliss, who wears silk-velvet robes that are so heavy that it takes two servants to lift them, and Prince Karathanelan dresses ornately even for combat practice. Charliss is something of an exception, though, as his rich robes are of a very austere cut and color, for the "making himself look badass" principle.
      • Queen Selenay, Prince-Consort Daren, and Grand Duke/King Tremaine wear high-quality but simple clothing, avoiding heavy robes and large crowns.
      • High Priest Solaris has to wear ornate robes for rituals, but her everyday clothing is the robes of a simple Sun-Priest (though of a finer quality of fabric).
    • Tales of the Five Hundred Kingdoms: Multiple:
      • From One Good Knight: Queen Cassiopeia wears rich gowns all the time, but her daughter, before she was coerced into dressing for her rank, Princess Andromeda could have been mistaken for a palace servant.
      • While she's not royalty, Godmother Elena only wears her elaborate gowns in situations when Background Magic Field of "the Tradition", demands it.
    • Dragon Jousters: Ari and Nofret only wear royal garb when they have to. They hate how uncomfortable the stuff feels.
  • The Last Days of Krypton: Council Head Jul-Us is an Obstructive Bureaucrat (and possibly a Corrupt Bureaucrat if Zod is to be believed), but he makes short, succinct speeches at formal affairs and wears a simple white robe.
    To his credit, the Council Head was not a man who demanded attention and praise from the people of Kandor.
  • Tamora Pierce tends to give the more sympathetic royal characters in her books this trait. In the first book in The Immortals of her Tortall series, when Daine first meets Queen Thayet, she's surprised to learn that Thayet is, well, the Queen, because she's dressed very plainly. In fact, one could go far as to say if a character likes dressing up really fancy all the time, they're probably evil. Examples include Roger from Song of the Lioness, Ozorne in The Immortals, Joren and to a lesser extent Blayce in Protector of the Small, Imajane and Rubinyan in the Trickster's Duet, and any noble antagonist in any of the Circleverse books. Good characters like dressing up sometimes, but only in very simple and understated fancy outfits. The more jewelry and makeup a character wears on a regular basis, the more evil they are with the exception of Dove in Trickster's Queen because she's embracing her "native" side by wearing multiple rings. And if a character does dress to the nines at every occasion and isn't evil, they are at least dismissed as very flippant or silly or petty and mean.
    • Ironically, TP is so into long, loving descriptions of what all of her characters are wearing that the effect of any contrast is sort of lost on the reader. She can spend just as much time telling you someone's not dressed up as that they are.
    • One notorious subversion was a story told to Daine, in which Thayet had been dressed up in a very expensive dress for a court function, but was called to fight bandits in her capacity as Commander of the Queen's Riders. The bandits were defeated, but the dress most emphatically did not survive.
  • Fred Saberhagen uses this trope a lot. In his Empire of the East trilogy, Emperor John Ominor wears simple white robes with black trim and is otherwise a fairly ordinary-looking man. He's also the Big Bad, which just goes to show you that this even villains can be modest. Later, in the Book of Swords trilogy, set thousands of years later but in the same fictional universe, Yambu, the Silver Queen, is depicted as preferring to dress casually and is generally pretty informal. Interestingly, she is also the Big Bad in the first couple of books, until another shows up at the end. Later, when Mark becomes the Prince Consort of Tasavalta, he continues to dress like a soldier. The Emperor (the one from the Swords series, not Ominor) is a subversion: he dresses like a shabby clown, but, despite his title, he is not really the ruler of anything (well, except the Universe).

By Work:

  • The Conatic from Jack Vance's Alastor-series combines this with King Incognito: his appearance is so unremarkable that he frequently walks among his many subjects unrecognized.
  • Belisarius Series:
    • Eon has that as one of his chief traits. When first we meet him he is Arm-Wrestling with Roman soldiers.
    • Shakuntala once has to dress like a prostitute as part of her disguise-and right there decides it would probably be more comfortable then normal clothes for a princess. It also served some practicality for her: a princess would be expected to wear a fairly tight-fitting dress that restricted leg movement while the prostitutes wore loose silk pants... and the assassin-trained Waif-Fu expert knows what she'd rather fight in.
    • Theodora, by contrast is almost always as Imperial as she can get. She grew up a street girl, has had enough of it, and once she gets to be an empress, by golly she's gonna act like one.
  • In A Brother's Price, Jerin mistakes Princess Odelia for a common soldier when he first meets her. The rest of the royal family seems to dress like this, too, as no explicit mention is made of extravagant dresses.
  • The Chronicles of Narnia: Most Narnian royals display this to some degree. While there are few detailed descriptions of clothing throughout the series, C. S. Lewis does emphasize that in Narnia, one's 'best' clothes are also one's most comfortable clothes.
    • The Magician's Nephew
      • When Aslan summons Helen, a commoner from our world, to become the first Queen of Narnia, she arrives in a simple dress and hands still soapy from washing. The narration notes that if she had known what was about to happen she would have put on her fanciest outfit, which was tacky and foolish-looking.
      • When Helen and her husband Frank are crowned, their crowns are described as being simple circlets, rather than the traditional real-world style baroque monstrosities.
    • The Horse and His Boy
      • The Narnian embassy to Calormen is one of the few detailed descriptions we get of clothing; the attending lords as well as King Edmund wear simple tunics in bright colors (green, yellow, and blue).
      • King Lune of Archenland makes a first impression like this with Aravis, but in this case it's justified in the narration; he was wearing older clothes because, at the time, he had been inspecting the kennels of his hunting-dogs.
  • The assorted (good) royalty in The Chronicles of Prydain are pretty much all this trope, except at court. Special mention goes to Prince Gwydion, who dresses so plainly that on their first meeting, Taran thinks he's lying about his identity. Princess Eilonwy is Modest Royalty not only in her attire but also in her manners - so much so that she never even thinks to mention that she's a princess throughout the entire first book. Both Taran and the reader only learn about it on literally the last page.
  • In Codex Alera, after the reveal of Tavi's true identity as Princeps Gaius Octavian, he eschews finery, preferring instead the uniform of a Legion Captain (which he is), because there's a war going on. The one time he's seen in all his finery, he's getting married.
  • Conqueror: Jelaudin in Bones of the Hills is an interesting case. When introduced, he's spent most of his life in fancy clothes, as befits the prince of Khwarezm. However, after Samarkand falls to the Mongols and the shah dies, he is reduced to wearing rags. He goes on to raise an army, largely by making a number of rousing speeches, and the fact that he doesn't wear fancy clothes is one of the things his men respect about him. Indeed, when offered the chance to wear something more fitting than rags, he refuses.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses: Feyre is the High Lady of the Night Court, but she enjoys interacting with people and prefers to dress to work, over dressing extravagantly.
  • Cradle Series: Akura Mercy is the daughter of the Monarch Akura Malice, who owns a significant portion of the world. Mercy never stops smiling and offering kind words to everyone around her, and is even an Internal Reformist trying to fix the dog-eat-dog nature of the world.
  • The Culture: Cheradinine Zakalwe in Use of Weapons: one of his assignments by the Culture is to turn around a war for one side. His coming has been prophesied, but he's not there just to be feted, so he rejects the ornate garments they offer him for military uniform.
  • Several examples from the Discworld series:
    • King Verence II, due to him growing up a jester. He spends most of his time in his work clothes and actively tries to lessen his own power and prestige, much to the confusion of the traditionalist people of Lancre. (Queen Magrat would like to do the same, but is told the rules are different. Kings can go around with "the arse hanging out of their trousers"; Queens have to have a Pimped-Out Dress.)
    • Vimes, too, fits this mold. After being promoted to Duke of Ankh, he goes out of his way to remove most of the frillier things in his "traditional" dress outfits—partly because he's always hated the upper class, and partly because (from the descriptions), they'd look ridiculous. He even gets into this as Commander of the Watch: for example, when his wife buys him new, expensive boots, he always trades them for the cheap, barely-a-sole-to-them boots like he used to wear, because he can tell exactly where he is in the city based on how the stones feel on his feet. He dresses so shabbily that a shop owner in Jingo mistakes him for a beggar.
      • When the soles of Vimes' boots are too worn to be considered boots anymore, he replaces them with cardboard.
    • Sybil, Vimes' wife, may be one of the wealthiest women in Ankh-Morpork, but she spends most of her time in work clothes tending to swamp dragons. They're well-made work clothes that will last for years, but still work clothes.
    • And another ruler who shuns the fancy stuff: Havelock Vetinari. He doesn't even dress as a high-class Assassin despite having attended and graduated from the school; instead of Assassins' traditional stylish black, he just wears plain, plain black. Back when he was still an active assassin, he preferred brown, gray, and green - essentially a variation of modern-day camouflage, as he realized that the regulation black is almost always visible except in deepest darkness where you can't see anything, anyway. He did wear black whenever attending the guild functions though, since anything else would have gotten him kicked out.
    • Not to mention Carrot Ironfoundersson, who'd rather remain in the Watch than be acknowledged as the rightful king of Ankh-Morpork.
  • Almost all of the main characters in the Melanie Rawn's Dragon Prince trilogy behave according to this trope. They get dressed up only to impress people and on formal occasions.
  • Frank Herbert's original Dune did exactly this. The narrator takes great pains to point out that Emperor Shaddam IV rarely bothers to wear imperial regalia; he prefers an only slightly more ostentatious version of the uniform worn by the Sardaukar, the Imperial House Corrino's military force, although it's less "modesty" and more "naked show of force".
  • King Mendanbar from the Enchanted Forest Chronicles. Not only does he dress very casually, he hates formal occasions and cancels as many as he can get away with, much to his steward's dismay. At one point, another character chides him for it, saying he should at least wear the crown or else no one would know who he was.
    • Cimorene is even worse; more especially when she was Kazul's princess you are more apt to see her in sensible clothing with an apron. Even after marrying Mendanbar she sticks to it. And their son Daystar sticks to the trend, though in the beginning he didn't know he was a prince.
  • After Honor Harrington gets ennobled on Grayson she starts wearing dresses, but due to her utilitarian nature from her military career tends towards very simple styles. Queen Elizabeth takes a liking to Honor's fashions, and - well, nobody argues with the Queen of Manticore.
    • Given the description of the traditional unisex formal Manticoran court clothing (basically the result of a clown car colliding with a tuxedo), the simple dress is a huge improvement.
  • The titular Julian takes up celibacy and asceticism. Unfortunately, his flaws more than make up for these virtues.
  • In one version of the King Midas story his princess daughter went to school with the other children, dressing and acting like a fairly ordinary (if wealthy) schoolgirl, despite all the extravagant luxury she had back home.
  • King Birtram of Binn in Dr. Seuss' book, The King's Stilts is a workaholic most of the day whose one pleasure is cavorting on his stilts on late afternoons. The book notes that the citizenry notes while this is an unusual thing to have, the King is perfectly entitled to his dirt cheap hobby.
  • Having grown up a rural farmgirl, Honorary Princess Dorothy in the Land of Oz books prefers to keep her clothing simple.
  • Leia, Princess of Alderaan centers a sixteen-year-old Leia and her adoptive parents. Alderaanian royalty is expected to be modest, to not hold themselves as above other people and to prefer the same treatment as any other Alderaanian. Even so, Leia has a Friendless Background thanks to the expectation that she can't really be friends with the staff, and was assigned a personal droid to maintain her hair and wardrobe to royal standards, though she'd prefer both were much simpler. After a meeting with the Queen of Naboo and having to borrow one of said Queen's fancy dresses, Leia muses to herself that she's glad the Alderaanian tradition is for elaborately braided hair instead of that kind of clothing.
  • Discussed at the end of The Lunar Chronicles:
    Cinder: Why are you still kneeling?
    Kai: You'll have to get used to people kneeling to you. It kind of comes with the territory.
    Cinder: I'm going to make it a law that the proper way to address your sovereign is by giving a high five.
    Kai: (smile) That's brilliant. Me too.
  • Chell from Masks of Aygrima never wears anything befitting his status as a prince, this is justified as he only has access to regular clothes for a while. This is completely subverted once he gets back to his ships though, as he dons very elaborate but still practical clothes.
  • Prince Josua from Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn - admittedly only the King's brother, but quickly becomes the replacement of choice once Elias does his Face–Heel Turn. Known for his lack of ostentatious dressing and easily mistaken for someone of much lower status.
  • The opening of Jules Verne's Michael Strogoff features the Tsar of All the Russias wearing "the simple uniform of a cavalry officer." Of course, cavalry in those days often had some pretty flashy "simple" uniforms.
  • Played darkly with the Lord Ruler in Mistborn: The Original Trilogy. Despite being the God-Emperor of the known world, he only wears a subdued black-and-white ensemble that's not hugely different from the day-to-day outfits preferred by the nobility (and is a lot less ostentatious than what many of them wear), and doesn't wear a crown or any visible signifier of his station at all. He does wear a lot of rings, bracelets, and other jewelry, but that's for magical purposes and mostly hidden under his clothing rather than on public display. It's explicitly noted that the reason he does this is actually an understated statement of authority; he's an absolute monarch, revered as a living god, and has his image plastered on statues and stained-glass windows across the empire - everyone knows beyond doubt that he's in charge, so why should he bother with the superficial trappings of rank? When Elend becomes king, he initially doesn't wear a crown (and in general acts more like a high-level clerk than a king), but an advisor suggests he wear a simple circlet for the look of it.
    Elend: The Lord Ruler never wore a crown.
    Tindwyl: The Lord Ruler never needed to remind people he was in charge.
  • Lynn Flewelling does this: in the Nightrunner books most of her queens and princesses run around in armor, riding clothes or appear at court in somewhat elaborate but modest dresses. The fanciest it gets is when Princess Klia has to do some negotiations with another nation. And it is fancy only because she wears tons of jewelry, and this is for tactical reasons (since the 'faie have an intricate gift culture: Klia has received most of said jewelry as welcome gifts and is more or less obliged to wear them. Aside of that such gifts are usually done by simply giving the necklace you wore yourself. Klia wears an arsenal of tactical maneuvers.)
    • Also Queen Tamír from the Tamír Triad always preferred simpler garb even in her/ his youth. She/ he grew up far away from court and is used to simple, comfortable clothes, and for a good while just feels silly in a dress. However, in general the trope is justified with any Skalan Queen since they also are the leaders of their armies and in wartimes spend quite a lot of time on the battlefield.
  • The Queen's Thief: Most of the royals in the books are like this, starting with the Queen of Attolia having a casual meeting with her generals, and it not being immediately apparent which one she is. Many fictional works set in Ancient Greece tend to lean in this direction.
  • Realm of the Elderlings: The rulers of the Mountain Kingdom in the Farseer trilogy are not royalty in the traditional sense, so when Fitz first meets Kettricken and her brother he mistakes them for servants.
  • Raymond E. Feist's The Riftwar Cycle uses this a lot. Most of the protagonists (especially in earlier novels) are gruff, tough, no-nonsense types from the rugged western frontier, so they tend to dress sensibly and conservatively and act in a very straightforward manner. Meanwhile nobles from the Kingdom's eastern realm are courtiers and intriguers, and they keep up with the latest trends and dress ostentatiously, and are portrayed as being isolated from the rigours of life in the real world.
  • Invoked by Yang Fu in Romance of the Three Kingdoms. When Cao Rui of Wei spends too much money on palaces, Yang Fu cites a number of precedents in history. On one hand were the kings and emperors who had modest palaces and were considered wise and left strong legacies. On the other were those who built extravagantly and lost their empire, or had their successors lose the empire. Rui ignores, and the Wei dynasty is eventually supplanted.
  • In The Secret of Platform 13 the Island is ruled by a pair of normal, non-magical humans who don't particularly care if you turn your back in their presence. They live in a marble house that is large and elegant but notably smaller than the average palace in another kingdom, and any citizen of the Island can stay there if they wish (Odge moves in at the end).
  • Sister Fidelma is sister to King Colgu of Muman (southern Ireland), but wanders all over Europe as an ordinary religious sister from the Abbey of Kildare.
  • Slave Of The Huns gives this treatment to Attila the Hun. The main character envisions Attila in glamorous, borderline Camp attire, going into absurd details such as wearing gold rings on all of his fingers and toes, but it turns out he is dressed in rather modest clothes, that while showing that he is of higher status than the other Huns, is still considerably plain.
  • Slayers: Multiple:
    • Princess Amelia's yellow/tan traveling outfit is modest, even compared to the sorceress Lina's complex getup, and the dress and accessories she's usually seen in (a ruffly pink dress) while performing her duties isn't super-elaborate. Aside from her vocal love of righteousness that borderlines on Wrong Genre Savvy, one also doesn't get more modest than a willingness to travel in austre settings with a bunch of misfits.
    • The prince Pokota (before being transformed into a stuffed animal thing) was also shown to have dressed down.
  • George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire:
    • In the Dunk and Egg short story "The Sworn Sword," Lady Webber is something of a tomboy and tends to dress in plain, outdoorsy clothes. When Dunk first enters her courtyard, he assumes that an older, better-dressed woman is the lady, overlooking the young woman in leather practicing archery.
    • The Starks (except for Sansa) tend to prefer simple clothing, as do most nobles in the North. Even their crown is simple, made from iron and bronze rather than gold or silver. The idea is that gold and silver, while pretty, are weak. The Stark crown is made of tougher stuff, because to be King in the North, you need to be tough.
    • The even grimmer, even upper north elective tribal monarchy of the Wildlings does not feature any distinction in appearance at all. Mance Rayder, the King Beyond The Wall, looks just like any other Wildling. No crown, of course. Some of the tribal chiefs, however, try their own ideas of bling, like the "Lord o'Bones" who wears an egregious amount of bones on his fur armor.
    • The Braavosi nobles wear simple black clothes, while poorer classes are peacocks.
    • Stannis Baratheon, Lord of the Narrow Sea, Master of Ships, and King of the Seven Kingdoms, dresses and acts like a soldier, wearing plain grey plate in battle and drab clothes outside of it, with the only sign of his power being his rather spartan crown. His meals and quarters are also fairly plain.
    • The Prince of Dragonstone in The Hedge Knight. Granted, Duncan the Tall isn't the world's smartest Knight, but he manages to not be aware that he's talking to the Heir Apparent to the Targaryen king.
    • The Lord Commander of the Night's Watch already exists in pretty modest state, but when Jon Snow becomes Commander he rejects some of its few signifiers, rarely keeping guards with him and choosing not to dwell in the Commander's normal tower quarters. Melisandre considers this its own form of pride and that the trappings of authority are important to retaining it and given Jon is later murdered by his subordinates may have a point.
  • Zig-zagged with Grimnosh, the scro general in the Spelljammer novel The Radiant Dragon. He wears the same black armour with spikes as his followers, and while other scro paint the spikes brightly, or use jewels if they can afford it, Grimnosh's are just a dull, grey metal. A very expensive dull, grey metal.
  • In The Stormlight Archive the Kholin family follow the old codes of war, which mandate that they wear a military uniform at all times when in camp. The father Dalinar, uncle to the king, is the one who insists on this and doesn't even paint his Shardplate, leaving it grey. His eldest son Adolin would be something of a fashionista, and is alternately jealous and appalled by how some other officers dress; jealous that they have the freedom to dress however they want, and appalled that that is how they use their freedom.
  • A non royal example is from Harry Turtledove's Timeline-191 series, Jake Featherston. During his rule as President of the CSA he prefers to dress in a Sergeant's uniform instead of anything gaudy or elaborate. Considering that he's an expy of Hitler this is understandable.
  • In The Two Princesses of Bamarre, when the dragon Vollys first takes Princess Addie prisoner, Addie picks the plainest clothes she can find. Vollys later says that she knew Addie was royal or at least noble when she noticed this, because her noble prisoners always pick plain clothes and the peasants pick the elaborate jeweled gowns.
  • In The Vorkosigan Saga, Emperor Gregor deliberately avoids the Barrayaran mania for military regalia and wears conservative civilian suits for most occasions. Though as commander-in-chief he is entitled to wear a pimped-out uniform, he wears it only when ceremonial duties require it. This is partly tacit acknowledgment that he has never meaningfully served in the military, and partly to support the image of his "progressive" reign. Miles mentions that lesser nobles are somewhat grateful for this, as it means they themselves are spared from having to wear their own (uncomfortable and complex) pimped-out uniforms.
  • Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: Princess Flora, which has been mentioned twice:
    • As said in the first story, Princesses Don't Do Summer School, she wears:
      homespun cotton and simple leather, not looking a bit like a lady of high birth.
    • The second time is in the sixth story, Banquets and Other Social Disasters:
      The usual homespun clothes had been replaced with a medley of green and tan satin embrodiered with the outlines of leaves from many different trees.
  • My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!: Catarina has the Past-Life Memories of a modern day tomboyish otaku, and finds the outfits that would be expected of someone of her station to be stuffy and restrictive, much preferring the work clothes that she wears while tending to her farm. She has only willingly worn fancy jewelery once, and that was only because the necklace looked just the one from a character in one of her favorite romance novels.
  • Souma in How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom wears normal clothes, talks casually to the castle guards, and even eats with soldiers in the cafeteria in an attempt to save money. While appreciating his pragmatism, prime minister Hakuya and others in the castle eventually convince him to act at least a little bit like a king.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Our Miss Brooks: The titular king in "King and Brooks". He wears an ordinary suit. Subverted in Miss Brooks' dream, where the Ermine Cape Effect applies.
  • Babylon 5:
    • Emperor Cartagia of the Centauri. Subversion of the usual rule since he's an undilutedly evil bastard: he may ponce around in a gleaming white frock coat/tuxedo with gold trim, a golden pendant the size of a dinnerplate (which is the Centauri counterpart to a crown of state), and white spats, but it's still much more subdued than usual Centauri dress. Hell, even Vir is flashier! Most importantly, he wears his hair short even though the size of a Centauri's hair fan traditionally indicates his status.
    • Played straight with Emperor Turhan, Cartagia's predecessor, who refused to wear a wig in his last days because he wished to appear as he was rather than as tradition said he ought to be.
  • Game of Thrones / House of the Dragon: Both series' feature a number of Royals Who Actually Do Something, and therefore dress sensibly.
    • Rhaenyra Targaryen never lets anyone forget her position as royalty and designated heir to the Iron Throne, yet she rarely makes a fuss about appearing the part 24/7. Her clothing/accoutrements - as well as those of her children and courtiers - are rarely fancy unless the situation requires it (though still of high quality). During her first councils as Queen after her half-brother has usurped her throne, she dispenses with nearly all ceremony and allows her councilors to speak freely (though they all do so respectfully).
    • Stannis Baratheon, in particular, especially when he compared his his brothers, as he dresses much like his men, with very few royal affections in his dress in general, and forgoes wearing a crown - even more modest than his book counterpart, who wears a crown shaped like flames. (Stannis's younger brother Renly Baratheon, on the other hand, wanders about in a silly crown made of stag antlers and loves dressing extravagantly.)
    • House Stark, compared to other great houses:
      • Ned Stark is definitely one of the most humble noblemen in all of Westeros. Case in point: when the servant who receives Ned in King's Landing asks if he'd like to change into something more appropriate for the King's Council meeting, Ned just takes his riding gloves off and goes as he is.
      • Like Stannis, Robb Stark dresses much like his men. Furthermore, he doesn't wear a crown - though neither do Stannis or Balon Greyjoy. (Among the Five Kings, only Renly and Joffrey wear one.) Even his book counterpart wears a crown in the same style of those worn by the old Kings of Winter. Additionally, when the Stark troops cheer after their first victory against the Lannisters, the first thing he does is to somberly remind his men that the war has only begun, and that their final victory is far from assured.
      • Like Robb, Jon Snow wears no crown after he is declared King in the North, and continues to dress the same way he did before.
  • It says something about their house that for the most part, Sansa was the only one who wears Southern-inspired flashy outfits (in Season 1 due to being an Alpha Bitch, Season 2 onwards due to being a hostage in King's Landing), and even she chooses to mute her style further come Season 6, wearing a Brunswick green layered dress—with the Stark insignia embossed in gold. Quite flashy for Northern wear, but definitely muted compared to the South.
  • Ironborns aren't flashy about their status compared to other nobles. Even when they become king, the crown is simply a piece of driftwood. That's because pirate is the emphasis in the term "pirate king."
  • In Harry & Meghan, early in their relationship, Meghan is surprised to find that while Harry lives on the grounds of Kensington Palace, he lives in a modest cottage that is so small he has no place for a wardrobe and must duck occasionally because of low ceilings. After they are married, Oprah Winfrey visits and is astonished at the size of their digs.
  • King Arthur and Queen Guinevere from Merlin straddle this trope. Arthur is often seen wearing armour as a signal of solidarity with his men, and although Guinevere certainly wears plenty of beautiful gowns, she has noticeably less jewelry than her predecessor Morgana.

  • Himespetchi from Tamagotchi is shown to be a princess, with her home on Spacy Land having a king and queen, but her clothing doesn't look like anything a king and queen's daughter would wear. Granted, she doesn't have much of an excuse to actually demonstrate her royalty, but still.

    Video Games 
  • Borderlands 2: Handsome Jack is the CEO and supreme authority at Hyperion, at the time the most powerful company on Pandora and the surrounding planets. Yet he still wear the same short-sleeved jacket he did when he was a low-level programmer (albeit in name only).
  • Marle in Chrono Trigger. She appears better dressed than most of the other characters, but the other royalty tends to be much better dressed.
  • Elden Ring:
    • Malenia is a demigod princess and the World's Best Warrior, but if you look at her statues in the Haligtree (where she currently dwells), they never depict her as such. Malenia is shown in plain clothes, with her prosthetic arm detached, kneeling to embrace her child-sized brother Miquella. Even in her boss fight, her garb is understated and practical, aside from her winged helmet. This is especially notable since basically every single soldier in her army has more ornate clothing and equipment than she does, particularly her elite knights.
    • Morgott the Veiled Monarch is this trope Played for Drama: he wears ragged clothing that make him look more like a homeless person than a king, doesn't even wear a crown, feels unworthy of sitting on the throne of Leyndell, and doesn't even show himself to the population; however, this is not out of humility, but out of pure self-loathing over being an Omen, a being scorned by the Golden Order for its 'impurity'; being the son of Queen Marika didn't spare him the fate of being locked in the sewers of Leyndell for most his life. Despite all of this, he's doggedly loyal to the Golden Order and so sees himself as deserving of that scorn.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Cecil and Rosa in Final Fantasy IV: The After Years. Cecil's armor is not much different than in the original game, and Rosa is less fancy, having swapped her Leotard of Power for a long white dress with a cape.
    • Galuf and Krile of Final Fantasy V wear quite simple outfits in their ingame sprites. Their Amano art has more decoration, but that's Amano for you—even then, Galuf's outfit is otherwise plain black. Lenna's ingame sprite is also a simple short dress. They are also Royals Who Actually Do Something.
    • Edgar of Final Fantasy VI dresses casually enough to pass for a non-royal, is on first name terms with most people, and appears to be wearing plain light armour in the tacked-on FMV sequences. He is another Final Fantasy royal who actually does things.
    • Garnet of Final Fantasy IX dresses fairly casually for most of the game, and actively tries to behave in a more "common" fashion, as well as changing her name to Dagger. And again, she is a princess who actually does something.
    • At least when considering the rest of the cast, Princess Ashe is this in Final Fantasy XII. Really, it's a safe bet that royalty in Final Fantasy games tend to dress as casually as the rest of the cast.
    • Prince Noctis from Final Fantasy XV wears a very casual black shirt and shorts, and can change into even more casual-looking clothes that give him the appearance of a trucker. His clothes are distinctly less fancy than many non-royal characters from the previous games, and actually appears less formal than his attendant, Ignis.
  • Kingdom Hearts:
    • This is the natural end result of making an everyman-type character like Mickey Mouse a king. It helps that he's the Consort, not the actual Royal Blood, as Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers is his canonical backstory in the series, making Queen Minnie (who does dress in more "royal" garb) the actual by-blood ruler.
    • Ansem the Wise, sage-king of Radiant Garden, wears a lab coat identical to his apprentices' save the addition of a red sash draped over his shoulder.
  • Graham in King's Quest. Even after becoming king at the end of the first game, he continues to adventure in his red shirt, blue leggings and feather cap.
    • The rest of his Badass Family isn't much fancier. The fanciest outfit among them is the dress Rosella wears when about to be sacrificed to a dragon. There's also his daughter-in-law's layered robes, all the better to conceal a knife.
    • Invoked Trope because no one believes they are royalty during their quests. Alexander has to show off his signet ring a few times in King's Quest VI. In the Fan Sequel The Silver Lining, Graham's first action is to change out of his formal attire and into his "questing gear" because it's frankly impractical to kick Black Cloaked butt in formal attire. He also has to show the ferryman a Daventry coin to prove he's Alexander's dad.
    • The remake Kings Quest (2015) upholds the trope for Graham, his children, and his grandchildren, although Queen Valanice dresses a bit more fancy than the rest of the family. Graham does wear a crown throughout the second chapter, but by the third chapter he's back to his feathered hat; Rosella wears a modest gold tiara when she appears onscreen.
  • Golden Sun:
  • Dragon Age:
    • In Dragon Age: Origins, if Alistair is elected king, he'll spend most of his time out of the castle, chatting with the locals and visiting taverns, all to the commoners' delight. Fereldan nobility in general is fairly modest; one Orlesian in Denerim observes that "the nobility is not so high, and the commoners not so low" in comparison to the rather haughty elite in Orlais.
      • If he is king in the world state used in Dragon Age: Inquisition, the trope is still in play. Like most Fereldan nobles, he wears formal-looking armor rather than any sort of robes of state, and no crown.
    • The Cousland family, of which the Human Noble Warden is a member, seem to all possess this trait. Despite being second in importance only to the actual royal family, the Couslands appear to dislike the formality of traditional courtly manners, preferring to speak as equals among friends and allies. In fact, Teyrn Cousland frequently is referred to by the other nobles simply as "Bryce."
    • In Dragon Age II, Hawke ascends to the Kirkwall nobility after regaining their family fortune, and later becomes the Champion of Kirkwall after preventing the Qunari invasion. Despite their newfound wealth and status, Hawke continues to roam around the city doing odd jobs for people, refuses to get a proper job, and would far prefer to head down to the Hanged Man in Lowtown for a round of drinks than attend a noble banquet held in their honour.
      • The Mark of the Assassin DLC reveals that despite being officially recognised as the legitimate heir to the Amell family, Hawke politely turned down the title of "Lord/Lady Amell", simply because they wanted to earn the title of "Lord/Lady Hawke" instead.
  • Suikoden IV:
    • King Lino En Kuldes prefers a very simple vest and shorts to the usual trappings of royalty. As a result, he's easily mistaken for just a local fisherman by anyone first visiting Obel... and he enjoys taking advantage of this mistake.
    • His daughter, Princess Flare En Kuldes, wears a more expensive-looking outfit. But it still lacks any indication of her royal status, consisting of simply a well-tailored blouse and pants, without a crown or even any jewelry.
  • Subverted by N in Pokémon Black and White, who dresses casually despite being the leader of fantasy-costume-tastic Team Plasma... because he thinks he's too good to need to dress for his station. This qualifies him as a villainous example, despite his Anti-Villain tendencies.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
  • Ulfric Stormcloak from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is the only jarl in the game who doesn't wear a crown, and his clothing (while a cut above what the common people wear) resembles armor more than finery. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that he is currently leading a rebellion.
    • Balgruuf the Greater may also qualify, as he likes to sneak out to the town tavern and speak with his people directly rather than make them come to him all the time. (It drives his bodyguard crazy.)
  • Fire Emblem: Awakening: Chrom and Lissa are siblings of the ruler of Ylisse, and Chrom becomes the actual ruler later, but both dress in common fighting outfits most of the time. The Avatar doesn't even realize they're royalty until they bring him/her to see their big sister, Emmeryn.
    • Considering that they're long descendants of Marth, they must've gotten that from Caeda/Sheeda (who is Marth's wife). She is never seen in royal garb, preferring to wear normal dresses plus necessary armors for combat, and her activities include cooking normal non-gourmet food (and eating those normal foods too), fighting while riding a Pegasus, and mingling with commoners, which led her to be able to recruit more units than usual while being something of a kind 'girl next door' type (also winning lots of the loyalty of many non-nobility units. Ask Ogma about it).
  • Blaze the Cat of Sonic The Hedgehog is a princess, and wears a relatively simple purple jacket and white pants. It is fancier than what most characters wear (mostly by virtue of being more than most characters wear), but not unduly so. She also dislikes being addressed as "Your Highness".
  • Catie from BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm is a queen, but the only bit of regalia she wears is a simple silver tiara, (and even that becomes optional after the prologue). Otherwise, she’s content to wander around in jeans and a t-shirt.
  • Tsarevna Alena from Dragon Quest IV is a tomboyish and rebellious princess who wears a simple tunic, cape and pointy hat on her adventures.
  • Ga Jiarg, former prince of the Kingdom of Wroth, from Xenoblade Chronicles X who is never seen wearing anything aside from his armour. He cares little for titles, always puts himself right on the front lines of battle and after defecting from the Ganglion considers himself a "Mercenary Warlord" at best. Despite, or perhaps because of this, everyone except Luxaar shows him the utmost respect with his subjects usually referring to him as "Prince Jiarg" when talking about him, or "My Prince" when talking to him.
  • Most leaders in Civilization meet you in lavish throne rooms or while wearing combat gear, but a few prefer this. Ahmad al-Mansur meets you outside of a small tent while wearing trader clothes, and Gandhi wears his signature loincloth.
  • Princess Peach of the Super Mario Bros. games usually wears a simple poofy pink dress with a small crown and a brooch on her chest along with a pair of white gloves. Princess Daisy follows a similar trend, but with a flower styled brooch, yellow dress with orange trims, and short gloves instead. Likewise, both are more than happy to engage in sports and racing with their subjects, and their respective Implied Love Interests are (well, used to be) Blue Collar plumbers.
  • Zagreus of Hades is the crown Prince of the Underworld and son of the eponymous god, but wears very little jewelry and even less ornamentation than many of the House of Hades's servants. The only details that suggest his position are a flaming laurel chaplet and some distinct supernatural features inherited from Lord Hades.
  • Purgatory (RPG Maker): While not quite royalty, Enri, Emma, Oliver, Lucas, and Amalia are teens who dress in casual, middle-class clothing, so them being revealed as the children of wealthy, powerful nobles is quite the Tomato Surprise.
  • Most of the faction leaders in World of Warcraft.
    • The one it's really notable with though, is the Prophet Velen: who dresses less fancy than his bodyguards. You'd never really mistake him for an ordinary Draenei though, even if the game didn't make his model hilariously huge. Not only is Velen the leader of the Draenei chosen by the Na'aru, but also one of the oldest beings in existence with almost godlike powers: who is all but actually worshipped by the Draenei (and one gets the sense they would if he let them).
    • Also invoked in-game by Regent Lord Lor'themar Theron: who tells the player how nice it is to get out of his office and back into the woods. He keeps the strapless blood-red and definitely very magical eyepatch though. By Blood Elf standards, he dresses simply: although Blood Elves are flashy dressers even in the worst of circumstances. This is partly because he became the Blood Elf leader in the absolute worst of circumstances, and partly because he never wanted to be leader of anything much less a civilization.
    • Thalyssra, the First Arcanist and current leader of Suramar looks absolutely ordinary as one of the Nightborne; whose outfits all possess elaborate arcane decorations that can defy gravity while hers are more subdued and simple.
    • There's also Genn Greymane and both his children Liam and Tess, whose outfits look like they about to go hunting; even back before the Forsaken invaded and drove them out of Gilneas.

    Visual Novels 
  • Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair: Princess Sonia of Novoselic's profile picture is her in a Pimped-Out Dress, but in game, she wears a green dress much more fitting of a high school student.
  • Arcueid in Tsukihime used to wear royal regalia most of the time, but now tends to wear sweaters. Borderline as everyone who could really be called one of her subjects is now dead but...

  • Thief from 8-Bit Theater, though far from modest in any other sense, is the Prince of Elfland and wears simple leather armor. His post-upgrade outfit (Ninja gear), though far from casual, might count as well, since it doesn't signify his status in any way.
  • Drowtales: Waes'soloth, Quain'tana, and Ariel dress rather plainly for the matriarch of an ancient and powerful clan and the ruler and heiress to a mercenary empire, respectively. The Sharen clan, on the other hand, tend to have elaborate outfits and crowns, and other clan leaders do the same to show off their wealth.
  • Homestuck:
    • Despite being near the top of the Troll blood caste system, Gamzee is a disheveled stoner who wears clown makeup (for religious reasons).
    • Feferi zigzags this trope; her clothing is pretty average (consisting of the uniform black shirt and an uneven pastel skirt) but she wears quite a bit of jewelry.
    • And then there's Meenah (Feferi's ancestor), who dresses more like a punk than a princess.
  • HRH Adharia Kuvoe in Last Res0rt dresses fairly simply and modestly, aside from some silky bedtime apparel. Of course, her modesty isn't all self-imposed; she's trying to make a run for the throne, so it's likely she can't afford to carry around her full trappings all the time!
  • Arthur in Arthur, King of Time and Space wears an ordinary-looking tunic and cloak in the baseline arc, saving the ermine robe for ceremonial occasions like his wedding. In the space arc he wears the same uniform as everyone else.
  • Tower of God - Princess Yuri Jahad runs around in skirt, blouse and tie, while Princess Endorsi Jahad wears a summer dress and a vest. Only Princess Khun Maschenny Jahad runs around in semi-royal clothes.
  • Kill Six Billion Demons: Solomon David, seemingly. He walks around his kingdom in simple clothes with no bodyguards. Of course, this is actually a function of his Pride—he knows no one would dare attack him, and he is confident in defeating any opposition even if they did.
    • The Posthumous Character Au Vam encourages this trope in his Fictional Document "Fifteen Ways of Ruling":
      "Do not surround yourself with splendor. Spend your treasury sparingly. Stock the halls of your holdfast with sturdy and plain men, and do not adorn your walls. Abhor gold. If you sit next to the sun too long, you’re likely to go blind."
  • City of Somnus: Paollo, the prince of Majestan, doesn't even tell Odette he's a prince when he's rescuing her - she learns when his retinue catch up with them. He's mostly embarrassed by people showing him reverence and worries a lot about his Power Incontinence making it impossible for him to be Royals Who Actually Do Something. Later, Odette meets Paollo's mother in the palace library, and she neglects to mention being a queen, too.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • Marceline, the Vampire Queen: she's a queen, but prefers a tank-top, skinny jeans, and cowgirl boots to any sort of indicator of her royalty. She's seen wearing a dress only once, and it was a dress made of tattered wolf fur. It should be noted, however, that she's the only vampire who's actually around for most of the show, and according to Word of God "Vampire Monarch" is more an honorary title for the strongest vampire unalive than an actual ruler. It helps that she's also the last vampire, since she killed them all herself and only became one because of a Contrived Coincidence.
    • There's also the Earl of Lemongrab. He's an earl, and the heir to the Candy Kingdom Throne, but he enters the kingdom with nothing but his camel, a sword, and a gray jumpsuit. Aside from his title on introduction (and the fact that he quite insistently screams "THAT IS WHY I AM ROYAL, AND YOOOU ARE SERVILE!" later), he gives no visual indication that he is royal.
    • Princess Bubblegum counts, too. Her costumes of choice consist of long, flowing formal dresses and gowns. However, when she isn't on the job, she prefers more casual attire, like jeans, hoodies, shorter skirts, and T-shirts. She also wears her lab coat a lot.
  • Roselyn of Xyber 9: New Dawn tends to wear rather plain clothes, although Tatiania wears royal requisite regalia.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender:
    • The Fire Nation royals are fairly modest, with both Zuko and Azula wearing what basically amounts to military uniforms. Ozai's Fire Lord outfit is a bit more elaborate, but he's perfectly willing to lose everything but the pants when it's time to get serious. The crown, meanwhile, is a simple flame-shaped piece that fits into the hair.
    • Ozai in particular tends to Zigzag this; he goes full Caligula and promotes himself to the new title of Phoenix King with a more elaborate crown and costume, but still shucks it without hesitation when it's time to fight.
    • The Earth King's robes aren't all that fancy either, and the Water Chiefs are largely indistinguishable from their tribe. Only Bumi is shown with exaggeratedly large and fancy regalia, and that seems to be a sign of his eccentricity.
    • Zuko’s grandson Iroh II is only ever called “General Iroh” in The Legend of Korra, despite presumably being the Crown Prince. note  He also just wears a normal military uniform, not a royal outfit.
  • Dave the Barbarian: Princess Candy always wears a crown, but she otherwise dresses just like her friends. And she didn't even start wearing her crown until her parents left the kingdom on an epic quest and left her in charge. Prince Dave usually wears a tunic and Princess Fang usually dresses like a cavegirl.
  • Bean from Western Animation/Disenchantment wears more modest clothes that can pass her off as a normal peasant.
  • Zelda from The Legend of Zelda (1989) looks upper-class, but doesn't dress like a princess at all. Her most common costume is a purple shirt, a blue vest, white trousers and black thigh-high boots. She only really gets one Pimped-Out Dress in all thirteen episodes.
  • From Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM): Princess Sally, though heir to the throne of the House of Acorn, is far too busy leading a resistance movement of desperate refugees from Doctor Robotnik's regime, to bother with the niceties of being a Princess.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic
    • Ruling princesses Celestia, Luna, and Cadance wear crowns, collars, and metal hoof covers akin to slippers, but nothing else, not even for most special occasions. Only once (Twilight's coronation) have they ever sported a Pimped-Out Dress – in Cadance's case, twice, the other was her own wedding.
    • Twilight Sparkle is the same way, once she becomes an alicorn princess as well. She won't even wear her crown unless it's a special occasion, and even then it's a very small and simple model; she completely forgoes any other regalia. In fact, her crowns get progressively simpler; her original crown as the bearer of the Element of Harmony was more ornate than the one she wore at her coronation, despite both containing her Element. When she wears a dress, rest assured that it has nothing to do with her social standing. She didn't even have a castle at first, preferring to continue living at the library and only leaving because it got blown up.
    • This trope must run in the family, as Twilight's older brother Shining Armor, a prince by marriage to the aforementioned Cadance, has never once been shown with a crown, only wearing a royal red tunic on very rare formal occasions. He once introduced himself to a tourist, whom they thought was an important Equestria Games instructor, merely by name rather than title.
  • Bloom from Winx Club is far more comfortable being a regular girl than a princess. Justified in that she was raised as a regular girl and didn't know she was a princess until some time later.
  • The Adventures of Teddy Ruxpin: Princess Aruzia wears a plain shirt, farmer's overalls, and ordinary workboots while helping out with the kingdom's farms.
  • In Wakfu, Princess Amalia has relatively fancy clothes, but prefers walking around barefoot in minimal clothing when traveling. Yugo's outfit is also pretty casual for the king of the Eliatropes (though he's unaware of that for most of the series). In the second series, some of the monarchs attending the Council of Twelves wear rather simple and modest clothing, especially the Sacrier King (sleevless shirt, pants, boots and his blood tattoos) and the Ecaflip King (who's dressed like a wandered, complete with bamboo staff and straw gasa and even sitting alone on a random rock rather than on a chair like the others).
  • Samurai Jack is this entirely by necessity; like the Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) example above, Jack is the Warrior Prince of Japan, and by default, the Emperor since his father is dead. However, he has no kingdom, and wanders from place to place as a destitute nomad. His only possessions are a plain white robe, his sandals, and his sword.
  • In Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town, Tanta Kringle is mentioned as being the queen of the Kringle Elves. Aside from being the head of the family and wearing a small tiara, there's really no indication that she's royalty—she wears the same red-and-white outfit as the others, lives in their cottage, and presumably used to work with them as a toymaker for the (human) king.
  • Star vs. the Forces of Evil:
    • Most of the time, Star Butterly wears extremely casual dresses, even when she leaves Earth and moves back to Mewni in the second half of the series. She does wear fancy dresses for formal occasions, however.
    • Tom Lucitor also dresses rather casually for the Prince of the Underworld, to the point where the only hints that he's royalty at all before being confirmed in side material and the third season are the fact that he rides around in a carriage (which he's later revealed to have built himself) and the fact that he's apparently the one hosting the Blood Moon Ball. While he can dress quite fancily when he wants to, sometimes he'll just wear a simple suit instead.

    Real Life 
  • Attila the Hun: Despite his incredible wealth, he was known for living simply. According to Priscus, a Byzantine historian who visited him as a member of a diplomatic mission, he wore simple clothes, ate from wooden dishes and did not adorn his sword with gold or gems.
  • Authoritarianism: It has been normal for military dictators of communist regimes to wear the uniform of the lowest-ranking private, without insignia or decorations – Mao and Stalin are major examples (though the latter dropped this habit after World War II and started to wear a white Custom Uniform made for him specially).
    • For fascist rulers, Hitler's toothbrush moustache stood in contrast to the extravagant facial hair of the old German upper classes.note 
    • A monarch, being the "font of honour", carried no honours themselves aside from being king or queen.
  • Basil II: Dubbed "the Bulgar Slayer" for his ruthless campaigns against that people (after one victory supposedly blinding nearly 40,000 captives), this Byzantine Emperor lived like a soldier to the point of eating the same daily rations as his troops.
  • The British Royal Family: The modern royals don’t get much more dressed up than business formal, except for truly pomp-inducing ceremonies like a royal wedding or coronation. Even Prince Charles' investiture as Prince of Wales in 1969 (when he was 21) was an understated affair, with his mother the queen in a white hat and matching dress/overcoat thing and the Prince himself in military uniform.
    • Elizabeth II Wore the Imperial State Crown and her full regalia for her annual speech before the Parliament.
    • This extends to the British Royal Guards; their iconic uniforms might be rather elaborate or impractical by the standards of contemporary combat uniforms, but compared to something like the Pontifical Swiss Guard Parade Dress uniformnote , a red tunic, black trousers, boots and a bearskin are positively austere.
    • "Bicycling monarchy" is a British term that refers to this trope in general.
  • Charlemagne: The proverbial “Father of Europe” basically had one rule; if you would drink and feast with him, you were all right. Outgoing and boisterous, his court was arguably one constant party, and it didn't end at the dining table. He would insist that friends join him while he bathed, so that they could keep reveling.
    • His easygoing attitude extended to his family: Although he was seemingly a Boyfriend-Blocking Dad regarding his daughters (only one was allowed to marry, and he refused to feast unless all of them and their brothers who weren't out on kingdom business were present), he had absolutely no problem with them conducting numerous affairs and even having children by various courtiers. Or as Larry Gonick put it:
    Charlemagne: (mouth full, pointing) Cute lil' bastard! Pass the roast!
  • China: This was actually a requirement for a good Confucian ruler. Confucius is quoted in The Analects as saying that the higher up the (meritocratic) social ladder one goes, the fewer times one should eat during the day: Commoners should eat several times a day, while the emperor should eat only once. Chinese historians viewed emperors who lived modestly and were open to criticism very favourably.
  • Corporate variation: Big-box store Costco was founded and run by James Sinegal for decades, whose net worth measures in the billions and who managed to keep the company's stock growing to five thousand percent of its starting value in 27 years. Yet he was rarely seen in anything other than a simple button-up shirt, slacks, and his Costco employee badge. He is seen occasionally in open-front suits or comfortable sweaters and almost never in a tie, befitting his textbook Benevolent Boss and Honest Corporate Executive demeanor.
  • The Danish & Dutch Royal Families are both particularly prominent examples:
    • Christian IX of Denmark was a minor noble who only became heir to the Danish throne by agreement between the Great Powers, after both the Heir Club for Men and the backup Heir Club for Women started scraping the bottom of the barrel. As a result, his only income was his yearlynote  officer's salary from the Danish Army (enough to live comfortably, but hardly the amount usual for a royal), and he lived with his wife and two daughters in a relatively small house in Copenhagennote —in other words, he lived more like an upper-middle-class professional than as the heir to the throne. The daughters shared a room and made their own clothes growing up, which proved a stunning contrast to their later lives: the elder, Alexandra, married a fellow named Albert Edward who happened to be the Prince of Wales, while the younger, Dagmar, married the Russian Tsar (her son met an unfortunate end).
    • The Dutch monarchs' tradition of simplicity is also deeply-rooted, and for good reason: Until 1815, they weren't even monarchs, but nobles who "happened" to always be elected stadtholder (commander-in-chief of the armed forces/chief magistrate) of most (but seldom all) of the Provinces of the Dutch Republic. As a result, they never quite got into the whole "I'm a king!" thing. (This, incidentally, is one of the main reasons why the English let stadtholder Prince William of Orange become King of England in 1688; having been head of state in a constitutional republic, he would know his place as head of state in a constitutional monarchy.note )
    • The Dutch Royal Family's FAQ page (in English) explains that "The Dutch don't coronate or 'crown' their monarch, but inhuldigen (install) them. It's an event similar to the inauguration of a President. The current monarch, Queen Beatrix, was inaugurated in 1980." Additionally, the monarch and members of the royal family pay income tax as well as taxes on assets that are not exempted by the Royal House Finances Act. But what truly stands out is the following quote:
      Question: Where can I see the crown jewels?
      Answer: Since there is none, you can't. The royal family, as an institution, doesn't own any crown jewels.
    • Queen Juliana used to ride her bicycle from her residence to her office. She also insisted people call her "ma'am" instead of "Your Majesty", and did away with court protocols such as curtsying.
    • The current Dutch monarch, King Willem-Alexander, does sometimes wear a uniform. He's fully qualified to fly a Boeing 737 and Airbus A320, and about twice a month walks through Schiphol Airport to report for duty in his KLM jacket and cap, and is rarely recognized.
  • Pope Francis: Showed up in the Italian newspapers pulling a Pope Incognito in the simple black trousers, black dress shirt and clerical collar of a rank-and-file priest while working a night-shift in a soup kitchen. This seems to be the mark of Francis's papacy in general; a humble man that calls out his subordinate clergy for spending lavishly (he fired one bishop for spending a million dollars to tile a floor). He's even written a children's book.
  • Frederick William I of Prussia: While other monarchs of his day wore fancy clothing - silk, lace, brocade, what have you - he always wore a simple officer's uniform (at that time there were no badges of rank, so an ensign and a general of the same regiment wore the same kind of uniform).
    • His son Frederick the Great followed his example, going even further by usually wearing the even simpler off-duty version most of the time. This set a trend for other European monarchs of the late 18th and 19th centuries. During and after the Napoleonic Wars, some of the most powerful monarchs in Europe, such as Frederick William III of Prussia and Francis I of Austria, tended to dress simply and favoured a lifestyle that was "bourgeois" with some military elements (Frederick William for instance would always sleep in a field bed).
  • Hazrat Umar Ibn Khattab: Many Islamic Caliphs embody this trope. Despite commanding a terrifyingly powerful army and ruling one of the greatest empires the world has ever seen, Umar would go out among the empire at night in common clothing with a sack of corn and would give it in charity to the poor. Following the Muslim conquered Jerusalem, Umar held the reins of his camel while his servant rode upon it. Upon seeing this, the Patriarch of Jerusalem was said to declare: verily, Islam has excelled over all other religions. Umar also allegedly chastised the men who took the city for wearing garish clothing and gold, accusing them of abandoning the simplicity of the Holy Prophet.
  • Louis IX of France: Later canonized as a saint by the Catholic Church for his "Crusades" in North Africa, his humble personality is recorded in the memoirs of his friend Jean de Joinville. St. Louis preferred to hold court under a tree in the royal garden as opposed to an official room. He also invited his lords to sit next to him on the steps by the royal throne to converse on state matters. He arguably counts as a slight deconstruction; although Louis appears to have been a great guy, his modesty made his officials somewhat uncomfortable, as they preferred stricter hierarchy.
  • Marcus Aurelius: As much of a philosopher as he was an emperor, he made a point of keeping his living area relatively simple, seeing material wealth as a distraction from his political duties.
  • Maria Theresa: The Holy Roman Empress genuinely enjoyed the finer things in life, and took a childlike delight in merrymaking (she could dance for hours in a night). At the same time, she was also known for her austerity: Whether or not things looked splendid was less important to her then whether or not they were fun. She usually talked with the accent of a Vienna housewife, and kept an easy-going and unpretentious court - for a Habsburg, anyway.
    • Her descendant, Franz Joseph I of Austria, echoed the Napoleonic era and lived a regimented, almost Spartan routine carried over from days in the military - to the point that even his quarters in the Hofburg in Vienna had little more than the bare essentials of the time.
  • Marie Antoinette: While her reputation as a spendthrift is largely accurate, the final queen of France also fits this trope in several ways.
    • Contrary to popular imagery, she preferred to dress in simpler muslin shifts and mostly avoided heavy makeup, rejecting the powdered wigs, pastel satin, and big frilly skirts that had previously been the norm (this caused a major scandal before The French Revolution).
    • She was also never entirely comfortable with the elaborate courtly rituals at Versailles, especially the practice of eating in public under the watchful eyes of courtiers.
    • Finally, her famously flippant remark “Let them eat cake” (referring to the major bread shortages being suffered by peasants) is apocryphal, and she actually donated sizable sums to charity during her reign.
  • Napoléon Bonaparte: Even as Emperor of the French, he nearly always wore a simple field uniform decorated only with a couple of medals, and on the field would add only gray greatcoat and an undecorated bicorn hat. Ironically, this served to make him stand out amidst the Bling of War worn by his marshals.
    • It is said that one of his biggest errors in judgment during the Hundred Days was when he continued this aesthetic during the ceremony on the Champ de Mars to amend the Imperial constitution (1 June 1815). His refusal to put on the majestic monarchical finery did not help his image at all.
  • King Norodom Sihamoni of Cambodia: While coronations are usually lavish affairs, he had a very understated one, not wanting to put his financially-devastated nation under further strain with a fancy ceremony. He doesn't even have a crown - the ancient crown of Cambodia disappeared during the reign of the Khmer Rouge - and he decided against having a new one made despite the unlikelihood of the original crown even existing any more.
  • King Phillip II of Spain: Despite holding dominion over a truly massive empire (the Phillippines are named after him, and at the time was considered one of his "minor" domains), he weirdly zig-zags this trope. He had a gargantuan palace built for himself at El Escorial, but that palace is nominally a monastery, and he did the actual governing from one of the smallest and most Spartan rooms in the entire building - the current Prime Minister of Spain has a more impressive office than Phillip did. He also dressed in those weird 16th century Catholic monarch clothes that don't look all that fancy compared to earlier or later monarchical dress.
  • Dom Pedro II of Brazil: Was known for his incredible humility and frugality in how he carried himself, thus earning the nickname "The Magnanimous". One example was him refusing a statue to commemorate his victory over Paraguay, instead deciding to spend the statue budget on scholarships. However, this also reflected his disinterest in the throne that was forced on him as child, a disinterest that grew into a refusal to support the perpetuation of the monarchy after his sons died and he got to travel the world and be free of his obligations. By the time he was overthrown in 1889, he dispensed with any pomp and formality, embittered and resentful of the throne.
    Baron Von Huber: I found the palace of São Cristóvão the same as ever. It is the bewitched castle of the fairy tales. A sentinel at the door and beside him not a living soul. I wandered alone through the corridors which surrounded the patio. I met nobody but I heard the tinkle of glasses in a neighboring room where the Emperor was dining alone with the Empress without their suite composed of a lady-in-waiting and a chamberlain.
  • King Sejong of Korea: Drove most of the yangban nuts with this (among other things—he just didn't share their classism). When he was required for an official meeting or the like, yes he'd put on the regalia. But if not, why bother with the attendant expense of repair and cleaning for the extra-expensive garb? Just wear what was comfortable. The traditionalists among the yangban, meanwhile, were irritated that Sejong wasn't keeping himself steeped in the gravity proper to a king.
  • Prince Svyatoslav I of Kyiv: Despite being the ruler of the Kievan Rus (though he left most of the political affairs to his mother Olga) and one of the most accomplished military commanders of his time, he wore simple white clothes and slept and ate alongside his warriors. According to the Primary Chronicle, he carried on his expeditions neither wagons nor kettles, and he boiled no meat, rather cutting off small strips of horseflesh, game, or beef to eat after roasting it on the coals. Nor did he have a tent, rather spreading a horse-blanket under him and setting his saddle under his head, and all his retinue did likewise. The only signs of him being royalty were his hairstyle, his clothes being cleaner, and a single large gold earring bearing a carbuncle and two pearls.
  • Sweden: During the COVID-19 Pandemic, Princess Sofia worked as a volunteer hospital orderly, while her husband Prince Carl Philip has reported for regular military duty at the Defence Staff HQ. He is a major of the naval infantry reserve by field service, not by birth. No particular fuss about the matter.
  • King Vittorio Emanuele III of Italy: Wore a basic uniform of the Royal Italian Army (under his rule said uniform had been heavily simplified for practical reasons) every time he could get away with it.
    • His son Umberto II, the last King of Italy, took after him, wearing the uniform during his rule and a simple business suit after abdicating.
  • William I of Prussia (and German Emperor since 1871): Served in the Napoleonic Wars as a teenager and favoured a somewhat Spartan military lifestyle, considering even underpants an effete luxury. When Victoria, the British Princess Royal (eldest child and daughter of Queen Victoria) married Crown Prince Frederick William (later Emperor Frederick III), she was shocked by how "primitive" the facilities in the Prussian palaces were.
  • Władysław Jagiełło: Grand Duke of Lithuania and eventually King of Poland. He dressed in black and grey (sometimes even wearing sheepskin coats), never drank alcohol, and shaved and bathed every day - at the end of the fourteenth century! According to legend, when the young Queen Jadwiga of Poland (later canonized as Saint Hedwig), was about to marry him, she was afraid that he was a hairy beast, per the Teutonic Knights' propaganda (Lithuania had only very recently converted to Christianity). She sent a courtier to check out the truth, but the future king predicted these concerns and invited the courtier to join him in the steambath, where he could see that the Lithuanian monarch was no monster.