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Princess Classic

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"One gift, beauty rare, Gold of sunshine in her hair,
Lips that shame the red, red rose,
She'll walk with springtime wherever she goes."

A princess is kind...
A princess is smart...
A princess is caring...
A princess likes to dress up...
A princess is brave...
A princess is ready for fun...
A princess loves to see new things...
A princess is a dreamer...
A princess is polite...
A princess loves to sing and dance...
And a princess always lives happily ever after!
Disney Princess, "What is a Princess"
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When we think of a Princess, the most common association is the archetypical princess, the perfectly good, innocent, and beautiful princess, who is practically a saint with a royal title. These are largely associated with Fairy Tales, and are considered to be as old as those types of stories.

Actually, this character started in the Victorian Era. In that time when stories were being shaped by Disneyfication and Bowdlerization, the concept of Courtly Love was warped to take all the sexual Sub Text out, and turn the noble lady into an ideal of the times. All to provide only the most positive and uncomplicated image to children, and even adults as well.

Princess Classic has many general traits.

These first two points are required:

The following traits are typical, though optional, and since Tropes Are Flexible, any of them can be mixed & matched.

Now changing values have eroded the idealism that this character represented. So even though this character has only slightly more credibility than the geocentric universe theory, she's not a Dead Horse Trope yet. She's still around in some fiction for really young children due to the Grandfather Clause. And even in everywhere else, there is still the belief that Everything's Better with Princesses.

Also, there is still the important fact that Tropes Are Tools and this trope doesn't mean a princess must lack Character Depth. She can still be well-rounded while having some of these traits.

One the other hand, some girls who grew up on this trope apply some of the above traits to their Fan Fiction, meaning a lot of the traits of this character match the traits of a Purity Sue. Heck, mix and match this trope with being better than everyone else at their skills, and with suddenly being the Spotlight-Stealing Squad, and there you have the archetypal Mary Sue.

These days, if she's played straight in a story, it's highly unlikely for that story to be taken seriously. Most writers would give her some flaws, some depth. She could be sheltered and demure, but not a Flat Character.

Also, being ground zero for any Princess Tropes, she can get an upgrade to Pretty Princess Powerhouse if the story requires her to (and can even overlap with Kicking Ass in All Her Finery). Likely to browbeat Silly Rabbit, Cynicism Is for Losers! into any Grumpy Bear she finds.

A Sister Trope to Yamato Nadeshiko, The Ingenue, Proper Lady, (those two are also archetypes built of idealistic views), Southern Belle, The Pollyanna, The High Queen, Sheltered Aristocrat, Knight in Shining Armor, Prince Charming (the latter two being her Spear Counterparts).

Compare Idle Rich, Parasol of Prettiness, Old-Fashioned Rowboat Date.

Contrast Tomboy Princess, Rebellious Princess, Lady of War, Pretty Princess Powerhouse, Royal Brat, Politically Active Princess, Daddy's Little Villain.


Examples

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    Anime and Manga 
  • A Certain Magical Index has the youngest royal daughter, Villian, who is an apparently timid but virtuous young woman.
  • While she isn't royalty (though being a principality is pretty close), Monaco from Axis Powers Hetalia grew out her hair to give off this vibe according to Word of God, though the actual word used is Grand Duchess, not Princess.
  • Princess Charlotte in the Berserk anime and the origin arc of the manga is the sheltered and demure version of this. After the Eclipse, the Kushan empire took Wyndham and Charlotte was taken prisoner by Ganishka. Griffith rescues her after being reincarnated back on earth. She's now part of his new Band of the Hawk.
  • Code Geass:
    • Nunnally Lamperouge looks the part at first glance, but the moment you begin going below the surface she suddenly becomes more of a deconstruction than anything.
    • Euphemia also fits in the oozing virtue and sweetness and light way until Lelouch accidentally geasses her and sends her out on a killing spree.
  • Princess Rune Venus of El-Hazard: The Magnificent World is played this way most of the time, although she's considerably more politically savvy than the usual princess.
  • Princess Fala of GoLion (aka Princess Allura of Voltron), even when fighting the bad guys.
  • One Piece: Princess Shirahoshi meets most of the criteria. She's the actual princess of Fishman Island. She's so utterly committed to peace between Fishmen and humans that she doesn't reveal the identity of her mother's killer for a decade. Her beauty is said to rival that of Boa Hancock. Her clothing is about as pimped-out as the traditional mermaid sea-shell halter would allow. About the only way she doesn't play this trope straight down the line is that she turns out to be not so defenseless, having the nigh-apocalyptic power to control Sea Kings. She's also estimated to be 17 meters tall, which is unprincess-like from a human perspective.
  • Played with at every turn in Princess Tutu. Neither Princess Tutu nor Princess Kraehe are actually royalty—the only reasonable explanation for their titles is that they both assume they're going to marry the Prince. Tutu might fit the model aside from that (replacing "amazing singer" with "amazing ballerina", naturally) except that she's actually a duck and she inadvertently causes misery for the whole cast, if not a Downer Ending. Kraehe isn't exactly innocent either. And Kraehe gets the Happily Ever After.
  • Screwed around with in Revolutionary Girl Utena.
  • Rose of Versailles both deconstructs this, through the filter of Marie Antoinette's actual history and invokes it when Maria Theresa orders a PR campaign to make her daughter seem like this.
  • Sailor Moon: Princess Serenity in the 90s anime, possibly to the point of being Exaggerated and a Purity Sue. Also a good example of this trope done wrong in a modern work; her entire personality seems to revolve around this trope to the point she is the trope. Her and Endymion could easily replace Aurora and Philip up there. Actual royalty? Check. Innocence personified? The only vice she seems to have is a Forbidden Love with Prince Endymion of Earth and that solely exists so Usagi and Mamoru can have a Reincarnation Romance. There's very little chance she would've been punished for breaking the law that Earth and Moon people couldn't interact. She is, of course, pretty with blonde hair almost long enough to reach the ground. Her clothes are Simple, yet Opulent and she has a small crown. While she isn't shy, she seems to be demure, polite, and courteous and is definitely helpless; it's why she has bodyguards and her Prince Charming is knight-themed with a sword. She ends up dying (along with Endymion), but only for plot reasons; she could still be interpreted as Too Good for This Sinful Earth though. Her reincarnation is instead the one who gets the Happily Ever After. She's also a Messianic Archetype due to the anime implying that this is Usagi's most powerful form. It seems like every important battle with the Big Bad of the season has her transform into Serenity to beat them and save the Earth.

    • Subverted in the manga and Crystal, especially if your introduction to the character was the 90s anime. While the physical description still applies, her personality is the complete opposite of a Princess Classic. Princess Serenity here is a lot like Usagi: flighty, reckless, doesn't like school and will actively attempt to avoid her lessons, into boys, and generally lives in a dream world. Her and Endymion's relationship thus ceases to be her only vice, though the likelihood they'd be punished is still low since the "gods forbidding it" was always a paper-thin excuse; it just took on more meaning once Serenity had any semblance of personality stripped from her. She's still helpless and has bodyguards and a knight-themed Prince Charming with a sword, but it's to emphasize how different she is from Sailor Moon, who's a strong fighter in her own right (actually stronger than her boyfriend and bodyguards put together) and how she fights alongside of them instead of being protected by them. She still dies, again for plot reasons, but instead of being Too Good for This Sinful Earth, she's painted as a tragic princess. Also committing suicide isn't very Princess Classic-like. Takeuchi was instead going for a Romeo & Juliet vibe fitting with the manga's maturer tone. Also the manga implied that Endymion and Serenity were having sex, but didn't portray the act as in any way sullying her. As the 90s anime was clearly aimed at grade-schoolers, this part was obviously left out. It is Usagi/Sailor Moon, not Serenity, who is the Messianic Archetype in these versions and Sailor Cosmos is her strongest form (assuming Cosmos is just another form of Moon; if not then Moon's strongest form is Eternal Sailor Moon) while Serenity is her weakest, possibly even weaker than regular, ol' schoolgirl Usagi Tsukino (Usagi's kinda sheltered, but she's not that sheltered).

    • Invoked in a filler episode of the 90s anime when Usagi went to "princess classes" in an attempt to be more like her past self due to feeling inadequate about being the reincarnated Moon Princess they had spent the past few episodes looking for. Of course, it turned out to be a trap set by the villain. She fails and in the process manages to out herself as Sailor Moon to the Monster of the Week (which changed nothing anyway). The entire point of Serenity being a perfect princess in this adaptation was so the contrast between her and Usagi could be milked for all it was worth.

  • In Skip Beat!, it's rather Played for Laughs that Kyoko tends to see every fairy tale this way. This goes so far as to see famous celebrities who appear nice or frail to be the typical Princess Classic. Kyoko's visions are repeatedly beaten down. Her tendency to see things this way takes on a darker turn if you recall that this may be a coping mechanism of hers due to her own emotionally abusive childhood.

     Comic Books 
  • Princess Ugg is about an academy for these sorts of characters...and what happens when a Barbarian Princess joins them. The "classic" princesses are mostly concerned with marriage, grace, and diversions like sewing and fashion, to the point where their history teacher calls them on it by claiming an over-focus on those subjects makes them appear dull to prospective princes.
    • The four named princesses themselves are a subversion, at least initially, as they start out as Ulga's antagonists, though Phonecia and Desdemona are closer to the trope than Julifer and Jasmin.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 

    Literature 
  • Deconstructed in Mark Twain's A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court where Morgan realizes the ladies are as rude and crude as the not-so-noble knights.
  • Princess Alexandra from A Hole in the World is this. She's also a lesbian. Her Prince Charming is a girl named Bianca.
  • George Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire: Princess Classic was what Sansa Stark always aspired to be from being a tiny tot and she actively cultivates all the the traits of trope she can express as hard as possible throughout the series (including turning them into barely adequate weaponry when needed). She can even do the "can talk to the well-trained and polite animals" one (for a time). Sansa, however, lives in a politically volatile Crapsack World within a story dedicated to deconstruction (with some reconstruction on the side). So you can guess where her initial bright-eyed, bushy-tailed, pink-dyed romanticism is heading.
  • Poked fun at in Angry Lead Skies, when Garrett ponders Kip Prose's childish fantasies about saving beautiful princesses, and how, despite having run into everything else on his weird cases, he's never met a Princess Classic. Near the end, Garrett does catch sight of two genuine royal daughters, and they're both quite unattractive, yet are praised and fawned upon constantly by political kiss-ups.
  • Firebird Trilogy: Princess Carradee Angelo is gentle, honorable, sweet, and rather uninterested in politics. Unfortunately for her, as eldest, she is the heir to the throne, which leads to her being thrust into ruling before she is truly ready for it. She contrasts with her sisters Phoena, who is a Politically Active Princess, and Firebird, who barely acknowledges her role as princess.
  • Although she is an Empress rather than a princess, Portia from First Sword Chronicles fits all the other points of this trope, as she beautiful, elegant, kind, gentle, demure, royal by marriage and in need of Miranda's protection from the machinations of the court.
  • Averted in Mercedes Lackey's Heralds of Valdemar books by Princess Elspeth, who starts off a Royal Brat and becomes a tomboy after she's broken of the brattishness. Eventually she abdicates her position as heir when it becomes obvious (to her, at least) that she'll serve her country better as a Herald-Mage than as its queen.
  • The Lady Amalthea in The Last Unicorn acts like this as she loses her memories of being the last unicorn.
  • The Paper Bag Princess has Princess Elizabeth starts as this type of character, but becomes an Action Girl later on, especially when she finds that Prince Ronald is an Ungrateful Bastard.
  • The Princesses of Sweet Rhyme and Pure Reason in The Phantom Tollbooth. They are universally loved for their "great beauty, their gentle ways, and their ability to solve all controversies fairly and reasonably." Even better, their unjust exile from the Kingdom of Wisdom is what sends Milo on his quest in the first place.
  • Alk from Phenomena is a Rare Male Example. Can talk to animals, is nice, feminine, pretty, is a good fighter when needed to but not the best and it's more the sword fighting than him, and referred to by royal titles, even though he hasn't really earned them yet. In the seventh book, it's deconstructed as he beats Sherpa to death when he can't defend himself and refuses to accept any royal titles. He even treats the extremely Bittersweet Ending as a Happily Ever After because he's together with his muse and Childhood Friend Romance. He acts actually more feminine than his twin sister who's a Tomboy with a Girly Streak.
  • Belinda in The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope is certainly meant to reflect this trope. She's Spoiled Sweet—not any sort of royalty, but the Queen Bee of all the court she surveys, while still being friendly (and uncommitted) to everyone. That is, until a certain involuntary haircut happens.
  • Lissa Dragomir from Vampire Academy fits all the bullet points of refined royalty. She is actual royalty by birth, she is a Messianic Archetype (though not a virgin), she is beautiful, good with animals, wears elegant clothes, and needs protection from her guardians.
  • Played With in the tale of Vivenna and Siri from Warbreaker. Vivenna was raised as a Princess Classic but ended up getting pushed into a Pretty Princess Powerhouse role, while her Rebellious Princess sister Siri ended up in the Princess Classic slot. Both do excellently in their new role.
  • Beautiful, royal, and good—Princess Paulina in Why Polly? fits this trope to a tee. Polly is unsure how to relate to a princess classic in real life.
  • In Xanth, Princess Irene was a Royal Brat. Her daughters, Ivy and Ida, are straight examples.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Princess Ariadne from Atlantis, though she gets a bit more spunk than this trope usually implies.
  • Used in the most famous Halloween episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Buffy dresses up as one of these on the Halloween when Ethan Rayne conjures up a spell that causes her and all of her friends to get turned into their costumes. So Willow, who dressed as a ghost, becomes a ghost and Xander, who dressed as an Army Guy, becomes an actual Army Guy. Ethan lucked out when she chose the Princess costume: the powerful Slayer becomes a simpering, helpless bundle of nerves and snobbery.
  • Game of Thrones:
    • Zigzagged with Sansa. Though not initially a princess in her own right, she was raised by her mother to be the perfect princess and is eager to fulfill this role when she is betrothed to a prince, only to find her Prince Charming is a petulant psychopath ruling over a Crapsack World. And then Robb declares himself King in the North, which does make her a princess in her own right. Too bad her hosts don't recognize Stark claims of sovereignty. By the time she could be undeniably referred as a princess in Season 6 when her brother Jon is crowned king, the naiveté and innocence associated with the trope have long faded.
    • Margaery is an astute politician and manipulator who puts on the persona of a charming and harmless princess to all and sundry. This has gained her the fanatical support of most of the common people, whom she's highly charitable with.
    • Myrcella is a young, lovely and beautiful golden-haired princess in a Perfectly Arranged Marriage to a handsome Prince Charming.
  • Played with on Merlin with the portrayal of Princess Mithian. Characterized as the embodiment of a Princess Classic, she's genuinely lovely, as well as beautiful, royal, elegant, talented and with an extensive wardrobe of gorgeous outfits; yet it's all done in order to provide more impact to the fact that King Arthur turns her down for the sake of the blacksmith's daughter.
  • Queen Anne from The Musketeers may technically be a queen (and occasionally passes into The High Queen territory) but for the most part embodies all the traits of a Princess Classic instead.

    Music 
  • Fairytale imagery featured on Taylor Swift's second album, Fearless. She explored the disconnect "between fairy tales and the reality of love": "We're raised as little girls to think that we're a princess and that Prince Charming is going to sweep us off our feet". Seen in "Love Story", "White Horse", and "Today Was A Fairy-Tale".

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • Charlie from Hazbin Hotel fits this trope to a T, although she prefers suits over dresses. It's just that her domain happens to be Hell.

    Webcomics 

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 

    Real Life 
  • Debatable if there are actual examples in Real Life (that weren't this from being sheltered and not taught about the world), but Queen Victoria of England did her best to make royal ladies appear to be this way. To the point of the Urban Legend of noblewomen being advised to "close your eyes and think of England".

    • Queen Vicky was pretty sheltered herself as a result of her mom not wanting her to see her dad's relatives and their scandals potentially affecting Vicky's reputation before she hit puberty. In fact, it was probably this upbringing that led to Victorian prudishness in the first place (and her husband Albert was even more prudish than she!).

  • On the subject of saints with a royal title, Saint Catherine of Alexandria provides a very early example of this trope (her name was once thought to come from "katharos", the Greek word meaning "pure", but this is less certain nowadays. But certainly this supposed etymology played a role in the name Katharine and its various forms being immensely popular throughout Christendom). It is a somewhat unusual one, however, as the virgin princess is wed to Jesus Christ in mystic marriage (ie. a dream-vision) and chooses martyrdom rather than betraying her vows to Him, which would be cheating in the eyes of the Church. "Thou shall not commit adultery" was one of the Ten Commandments.

Alternative Title(s): Stock Princess, Ermine Cape Princess

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