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The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask

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"I must now pass quickly over many years... during which the Queen of Glome had more and more part in me and Orual had less and less. I locked Orual up or laid her asleep as best I could somewhere deep down inside me; she lay curled there."
Orual, Till We Have Faces

For most of mankind's history, leadership and authority are associated with men. After all, a leader — especially the supreme ruler of a nation — are expected to be strong (to defend their borders), ambitious (to expand and improve their territory) and aloof (so that they won't be swayed from their long-term goals by a moment of impulse), all of which are often considered masculine qualities. So when a woman finds herself in a position of power, expect her subjects to be less than enthused by the idea — a volatile, emotionally-driven, Hysterical Woman in charge of other? Why, that would spell the end to the entire nation!


Thus, in order to be taken seriously as a leader, the female ruler is forced to repress her "feminine" (i.e. comparative physical weakness, compassion, emotional side) parts of herself, and even be more stoic, tough and "manly" than the men around her just to overcome the incorrect perception that femininity is by nature passive/submissive and therefore unsuitable for any position of authority.

While it is possible for this trope to apply to male rulers (if the man in question lacks the traditional masculine qualities, or if the work is set in a Lady Land and the man is forced to be more "feminine" to be accepted), what makes this an Always Female trope is the still commonly held view that leadership is an inherently masculine role, and the point of the trope is that the character suffers emotionally because they are forced to divest themselves of their society's gender norms just to be taken seriously as a monarch.


Is related to and may overlap with Broken Bird, where a female character who become aloof and closed-off to cope with her numerous hardships. Compare Iron Lady, which is about fictional female leaders being portrayed as actually tough and competent (and don't require a mask to naturally fit her into her role). See also The Chains of Commanding, in which the position adds a layer of burden of responsibility to the ruler to angst about.



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    Anime and Manga 
  • Baccano!: Luck Gandor is a male example working on the Just a Kid axis. He was pushed into running "the family business" after his father died before even reaching fifteen years old (to give you an idea how well that's accepted, his friend Firo's initiation to a similar position at eighteen was met with "Wait, you can possibly... Really...? Just how many executives did you sleep with to get there?"). So, to be taken seriously, he overcompensates like hell and puts up a front of ruthlessness that even he starts believing — though his best friend and adoptive brother both see right through it.
  • Berserk:
    • Being the second in command in the most successful army in Midland - and being the sole woman at the same time - Casca always had to deal with this and was quite cold because of her job. However, this became more evident when the Band of the Hawk got into some deep shit after their charismatic leader, Griffith, got arrested and imprisoned after Guts, a man who got both of their affection (one a bit more extreme, which led to his erratic behavior in the first place), left the Hawks, which left Casca in charge. Casca became so physically and emotionally drained during this time, not only because two men that she respected and loved were not by her side, but because she was in charge with keeping the Band of the Hawk together AND alive (since they became fugitives upon Griffith's arrest). She was able to keep her cool for the most part... but when Guts comes back after a year, Casca just lets it all spill out, and almost attempted suicide.
    • The Queen of Midland to a degree, in that she's a naturally passionate woman expected to act like a queen to a distant husband, which is why she ended up having an affair with the king's brother (that the king has the hots for his own daughter due to her resemblance to his first wife doesn't help). Unfortunately, Griffith's meteoric promotion led to the king's brother getting shafted, and she took it on herself to have Griffith removed, which didn't work out well for her.
  • Lolopechka from Black Clover seems very dignified as the princess of the Heart Kingdom but is in truth an awkward, clumsy girl. She thinks of herself as an inadequate princess for getting cursed and being clumsy and dull. And she's terrified of being cursed to die, feeling bad for crying in public. Thankfully, her friends Noelle and Mimosa comfort her.
  • Black Lagoon: Yukio Washimine is forced to do this in order to protect Yakuza faction from being wiped out by Hotel Moscow and the higher-ranking Yakuza clan in charge. She doesn't get any slack after.
  • As time goes on in Code Geass Lelouch turns out to be a Rare Male Example; though he Jumped at the Call to become Zero, the persona of a confident rebel leader, strategist, and ruthless Big Good starts to take a toll on him. Underneath his bitter cynicism is a Nice Guy who genuinely wants to help the world and hates the fact he has to even kill innocents to change the world. However, with his multiple secret identities, the only one he can rely on is C.C. for support. This is especially evident when he's forced to kill his Brainwashed and Crazy half-sister Euphemia after a careless phrase and Power Incontinence sent her on a massacre. He makes a glorious speech as Zero against her actions and Britannia, then goes off alone except for C.C. and cries over having to kill her and make her The Scapegoat.
  • Mina Tepes from Dance in the Vampire Bund is the sort of person whose first instinct even in the middle of an un-life-or-final-death fight is to protect a human child. Between that and the fact that she looks 12, it is hard to imagine how she can hope to maintain herself as Queen of the Vampires without the whole Stone Bitch pose and a good bit of doing what goes against her better nature.
  • Fairy Tail: Erza is an interesting example, even if she is not a Queen. She is basically one of the authorities in the Guild Fairy Tail and was given the temp rank of Guildmaster since she was the only one who could keep the rowdy gang of misfits in line though her sheer force of personality. However, she did not want the position and Makarov eventually recovered.Also, Queen Shagotte of Extalia.
  • The Familiar of Zero: The position of Queen demands a confident, competent, and most of all spotless image, and so Princess/Queen Henrietta has to maintain this image for the public. She takes solace in her friendship with Louise when no one can see her.
  • Gundam:
    • This is what happens with Haman Karn over the course of her young life: from being a naive-yet-well-meaning girl in Char's Deleted Affair to the cold, manipulative, and nigh-genocidal 20-year-old regent of Neo-Zeon.
    • Ex-Rebellious Princess Cagalli Yula Athha tries to be The High Queen in Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny. To say it FAILS... well, it's an understatement, and she ends up as this. It may have worked a bit better later, with the help of her close friend Lacus Clyne, after she's made leader of PLANT.
    • Mobile Suit Gundam Wing had Relena Peacecraft, another teenage Rebellious Princess who was forced to become The High Queen, though under different circumstances than Cagalli (and worse still, she had to be the figurehead leader of the militaristic organization that attacked and nearly destroyed her kingdom). She completely owns this, turning it into Reassignment Backfire and being well on the way to bringing peace when things got worse.
    • A non-royal version occurs in Crossbone Gundam, where Cecily Fairchild aka Bera Ronah is forced to be The Captain despite the fact that, for most of her life, she was an Ordinary High-School Student. Best illustrated in volume 2 where she freezes up during an intense battle on Io, and the Mother Vanguard's helmsman gives orders and politely criticizes Bera for spacing out when they need her the most.
    • Queen Dianna of ∀ Gundam. Her public persona is impeccably serene and composed. Around her Identical Stranger Kihel (and later as her), she shows her whimsical and sensitive side.
  • Hellsing: Sir Integra Hellsing as the leader of the Hellsing organization. The family can be quite cutthroat. She is coldblooded but she has her moments of weariness. Also, she has the special duty of keeping Alucard in check. Anyone might get a little stiff after years of that.
  • Toyed with in the interactions of Maria Theresa and Austria in Hetalia: Axis Powers. Since this is Hetalia, though, it's Played for Laughs.
  • Naruto: Hiashi Hyuga is another male example. He's the head of the Hyuga clan's main family (of Konoha's upper class) and, when we first meet him, he appears to be a very strict, stern-looking man and a Well Done Daughter Guy for his daughter Hinata. However, it's later revealed that he's been carrying around inner grief for the Heroic Sacrifice pulled over a decade earlier by his twin brother (who was delegated into the clan's branch family because Hiashi was born first) and the rift between both sides of the clan exacerbated by said sacrifice. He's been searching for an opportunity to tell his nephew Neji the truth of the matter (Neji believed that his father was made to sacrifice himself because he was a branch family member, not because it was his own choice for the sake of his family), and he finds that chance after Neji's defeat at Naruto's hands in the Chuunin exam, complete with him bowing to Neji in apology for not owning up earlier. Subsequent appearances in both canon and filler show him to smile more easily and get along better with both Neji and Hinata and this allows him to make amends with his brother when the latter is revived with the Forbidden Resurrection technique later on.
  • Later chapters in Negima! Magister Negi Magi begin to reveal Arika to be this. Nagi makes many attempts at lowering her unflappable guard.
  • Rebuild World: Sheryl tries, really tries to be a strong Supporting Leader of her and Akira's slum gang despite being forced into it by him at first. Sometimes Sheryl shows Dissonant Serenity and earns praise for being a Guile Hero as cunning as her Evil Mentor Viola, but her emotional instability as a scared teenaged girl in over her head sees her just as often break down or lash out. This is largely dependent on how confident Sheryl feels about Akira's backing, since she’s terrified of being abandon by him, and depends on her private time cuddling with him to maintain her morale, under the excuse of maintaining their Fake Relationship. Composure lessons from Viola see her becoming less dependent on this, which unnerves Akira until they settle on bathing together.
  • The Rose of Versailles portrays Empress Maria Theresa as this, mixed with Knight Templar Parent.
  • Another male example is Shi Ryuuki in The Story of Saiunkoku. As summed up by Shouka in the first season finale:
    "He is a man who is possessed by loneliness, from which he cannot escape. The more he behaves like an Emperor, the lonelier he becomes. ... From now on, just as he adds to his reputation as the Emperor, the people who see him as 'Ryuuki' start to vanish. ... That's why Shuurei is the only person who always did and always will call him by name. ... Right now, Seiran is able to take everything that he cherishes into his hands as much as his heart wishes. However, from now on, Ryuuki-sama will never be able to obtain anything anymore in his lifetime. Since he knows that, he can't let go of the one dream he has left."
  • Ayeka shows signs of this in the Tenchi Universe continuity. She tells Tenchi at some point that while she's the First Princess of the Juraian Empire, she doesn't exactly like it as it's more of an honorary title than anything, and she feels very trapped in her role.
  • One of the main plots of The Twelve Kingdoms kicks off when Youko not only has to fight her way into Kei to claim her throne but once crowned she starts having serious doubts about her own ability to reign over the Kei kingdom.
  • Yu-Gi-Oh!: Zig-zagged with Pharaoh Atem. Over the years he has gotten used to adopting the visage of the strong king, but he shows doubt over what is right, and his need to protect everyone and constantly be victorious causes problems even after he loses his memories.

    Comic Books 
  • Heart of Empire had Anne, Queen of the Universe, appearing to be this at first. Later, we find out the terrible truth...
  • The X-Men has Majestrix Lilandra of the Shi'ar, who always struggles and frequently fails to hold on to her throne and keep her kingdom from turning into The Empire, despite all the challengers to her rule and the corrupt and warmongering bureaucrats under her.
  • Legion of Super-Heroes: Princess Projectra left the Legion because of this following the (first) death of her husband, Karate Kid and the need to rebuild her homeworld. She later returned to the team in secret, under the guise of Sensor Girl.
  • Wonder Woman: Warbringer: Hippolyta. Diana mentions that her mother has to make sure to present the exact right image to the other Amazons and that she can never act the way she wishes to without considering the consequences.

    Fan Works 
  • Dungeon Keeper Ami features this in a very interesting manner. Ami, after becoming the Empress of the Avatar Islands has to put on a cruel facade in the presence of most of her minions, as most are underworlders, and would not respond to a gentle hand attempting to govern them. She actually had this problem before, the Queenly mask is more her efforts to deal with the Lightworld Kingdoms, which require an entirely different approach.
  • Composure: One of the two central conflicts is Princess Celestia's struggle to maintain her calm, dignified demeanor after centuries of emotional repression, irrational fears of her reformed sister, an unacceptable affection for her former student Twilight Sparkle, and being blown up.
  • In The Vow, after Lady Lianne becomes Gongmen City's ruler, she keeps it prospering for twenty years with the people's support, but privately she's sad and lonely for losing her closest loved ones. She focuses on her duties to try and forget her pain so much that she no longer keeps up her passion for painting.
  • Both the Princesses Equestris in RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse, though it's somewhat Deconstructed as the strain has gradually cause problems for both of them. In Celestia's case, untold centuries fighting to keep her ponies alive wore away at her until she Jumped Off The Slippery Slope and became Corona, the Tyrant Sun, seeking to rule every last detail of her ponies' lives in order to ensure their safety. Luna, on the other hand, has been consumed by fear of following her sister into madness, and that fear has crippled her and made her reluctant to use her authority to reign in the excesses of her Night Court.
  • Deconstructed in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess oneshot They Are Wrong. Zelda's detached attitude makes her an unpopular queen because others mistake her for cold and uncaring.
  • In In Sotto Voce, the Wise Beyond Their Years 16-year-old Zelda is crowned queen after her father's sudden murder. Despite her wisdom, Zelda is still just a teenager whose father was brutally killed in front of her. She's unable to emotionally handle the role of queen so she hides behind a mask of stoicism. Zelda's cold even towards Impa because she believes Impa betrayed her.
  • Deconstructed in Their Bond. Queen Zelda is so emotionally detached predominantly because of past trauma. She has trouble accepting or understanding love.
  • Queen Sunsparkle tries to act like this in Wishing Well, but everyone sees past her solemn image. She isn't respected because she's barely an adult, the second youngest pony in their "kingdom" of only twelve.
  • Hinata from Princess Of Konoha is an Ojou and is the heir to the most powerful clan in her village. She keeps her emotions in check and normally seems like an Emotionless Girl.
  • When Scorpia voices her insecurities with being a leader in She-Ra: In The Wake, Glimmer admits that she knows just as much about being a leader as her, something that surprises Scorpia.
  • Son of the Sannin: Downplayed with Kurotsuchi. Given that she's recently become Tsuchikage, the prospect of having to lead her village in the wake of the 4th Ninja War was clearly a heavy duty for her, and during the Five Kage summit, she vocally opposed to forming an alliance with the other villages out of fear of this being taken as a sign of weakness. It gets to the point she almost broke down crying upon returning from the summit, but thankfully, her grandfather was there to support her.
  • This trope is why Bowser is able to make a highly profitable business as a professional princess kidnapper in Your Alicorn Is in Another Castle. For far too many princesses and other authority figures, a brief kidnapping is the only way their subjects will let them lay aside their responsibilities, be a person rather than a princess or a queen or an avatar or a whatever for a few days and truly relax.

    Film — Animation 
  • Frozen (2013): Elsa represses her feelings and isolates herself from others because she is next in line to the throne...and she is absolutely terrified of screwing up. Unlike other queens, she has the additional burden that anxiety makes her Power Incontinence worse...and her magical abilities are potentially deadly. "Conceal, don't feel". Unfortunately, after one argument with Anna, she snaps and outs her powers by accident which causes her mask to whittle down. In the end, she completely abandons it and becomes a benevolent queen who entertains her people with her powers and has fun skating with them as well.
  • Somewhat subverted with Queen Elinor in Brave. She fits the trope very well, being the more level-headed sovereign. Her husband, King Fergus, is a Boisterous Bruiser with a good heart who is much more prone to being ruled by his emotions than his wife. Elinor is the one who is able to calm a crowd of feuding Scots simply by walking through it with the utmost dignity and takes care of details such as the betrothal of their daughter. The subversion comes in where it doesn't appear that Elinor is remotely ruffled by her holding this position. She doesn't seem to find it at all wearying, and it's only later in the story that she comes to realize that she's adopted the mask a little too well, and learns to let her hair down again (literally, in fact).

    Film — Live-Action 
  • The 2009 Tamil/Telugu movie, Arundhati takes this to the next level, with the Princess/Queen ousting tyrants, battling fiends, and even suffering voluntary torture and death for her people. Yet the while her queenly mask of composure never slips...
  • The Masterpiece Theater production Bertie and Elizabeth is a romance about a marriage between a Wise Prince (George VI) and The Woman Wearing A Queenly Mask (the Queen Mum) sharing The Chains of Commanding during World War II.
  • The movies Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age depict Elizabeth I this way. Both films are largely inspired by her Real Life story.
  • In Kingdom of Heaven, Princess (later Queen) Sibylla tells the protagonist, "A woman in my place has two faces, one for the world and one which she wears in private." Her characterization throughout the film is largely in keeping with this idea.
  • The 2006 movie The Queen is about what happens when the public doesn't like the Queenly Mask, but the Queen doesn't know how to be anything else.
    The Queen: One in four wanted to get rid of me?
    Tony Blair: For about a half an hour. But then you came back to London, and all that went away.
    The Queen: I have never been hated like that before.
    Tony Blair: It must have been difficult.
    The Queen: Yes. Very. Nowadays, people want glamour and tears, the grand performance. I am not very good at that, never have been. I prefer to keep my feelings to myself, and foolishly I believed that that was what people wanted from their Queen; not to make a fuss, not to wear one's heart on a sleeve. "Duty first, self second!" ... That was how I was brought up. That's all I have ever known.
    Tony Blair: You were so young when you became Queen...
    The Queen: Yes... yes, just a girl...
    • This is why the later exchange between the Queen and the girl with the flowers is heartwarming.
      The Queen: Would you like me to place those for you?
      Little Girl: No.
      The Queen: Oh. (hides her heartbreak, and is about to move on)
      Little Girl: They're for you.
  • A Royal Night Out suggests this was the case for Elizabeth II at age 19. There's one scene where she wistfully talks about what life would be like if she didn't have any responsibilities - but then does use her authority to her benefit at many points during the film.
  • The Star Wars prequel trilogy has Queen Amidala of Naboo. Her gowns make her look larger than life, and her painted white face is firm but never emotional. Where the queen cannot go, Padmé Naberrie does, leaving her handmaid Sabé to take her place as a decoy, letting Padmé Amidala be both The High Queen and an invisible common girl.

  • Indu Sundaresan writes about Mehrunnisa, better known as Nur Jahan, in both The 20th Wife and Feast of Roses. She married Emperor Jahangir of the Mughal Empire in 17th-century India, only to see her dominion destroyed by her own aggressive tendencies.
  • Shakuntala in the Belisarius Series is locked in a guerrilla campaign against one of the most powerful empires of the sixth century AD with few allies due to other kingdoms in the Indian subcontinent not wanting to draw the rapacious attention of said empire.
  • In the third book of Fred Saberhagen's Books of Swords, Princess Kristin was prepared to marry Mark, who was just a common soldier, and was completely informal with him, right up until they arrived back in Tasavalta and learned that her older sister Princess Rimac had been killed, and the principality was on the verge of civil war with no clear heir to the throne since everyone thought Kristin was also dead. Kristin then agreed to take the throne, but that of course meant she could no longer marry Mark or be his lover. After that, she had to be totally formal with Mark and hide her true feelings. The mask slipped once or twice, as when her uncle, the wizard Karel, was reluctant to leave them alone together, and Kristin angrily pointed out that it was way too late to be worried about that. It all worked out in the end when Mark was revealed to be the son of the Emperor, and as such an appropriate consort for the princess after all.
    • Subverted with Yambu, the Silver Queen, in the same series. After she became queen, she became detached and distant, and could never let her true feelings show; but at the same time was also pretty informal, and took any man whom she pleased as a lover, although she never had any feelings for them, of course. She's also a subversion in the sense that her emotional detachment is necessary for her to commit the crimes she proceeds to carry out in power, including selling her own daughter into slavery.
  • A Brother's Price: Ren isn't really keen on all the responsibility that comes with being Princess Eldest. Her sister Halley, who was more respected, vanished and left her to do the job, but they both were born as younger sisters and didn't expect to ever have to shoulder that much responsibility. Halley later reveals that she vanished on purpose, at least partly in order to make people look up to Ren more.
  • In Robert E. Howard's Conan the Barbarian story "Black Colossus", Princess Yasmela. Her brother the king is prisoner and she is ruling in his stead, and when she finds Conan attractive it produces a guilty start.
  • Queen Keli in the Discworld novel Mort, only allows herself to be a confused and whiny teenager in front of Cutwell and Mort. The Duchess of Borogravia in Monstrous Regiment turned into this after her own death thanks to the power of belief on the Disc.
  • Goldmoon of Dragonlance fame was this during the years she waited for Riverwind's return due to her father's illness. Her mask becomes so thick that when Riverwind returns, he notices the change.
  • Anchee Min's books Empress Orchid and The Last Empress, which portray Ci Xi as harassed, tired, and maligned than anything else.
  • Web writer Tygati's short story A Fairy Tale has a subversion of this: the outwardly calm, beautiful and regal Faerie Queen is really a man, the real Queen's servant who was forced to pretend to be her after her mysterious disappearance, lest the country erupt into chaos.
  • Michael Moorcock, in his novel Gloriana; or, the Unfulfill'd Queen, portrays Elizabeth I as a queen so intent on her responsibilities as a monarch that she is incapable of reaching orgasm no matter how kinky she gets. And she gets very kinky.
  • In The Goblin Emperor, Maia quickly becomes a male version of this. While he has the right sex, being half goblin is not exactly working in his favour. He tries to not wear the mask of the emperor, but when one of his bodyguards tells him that they cannot be his friends, he realizes that he has to. His attempts to make his Arranged Marriage at least a somewhat friendly arrangement are met with cold formality. He feels like a tyrant whenever he asserts his position but feels he has no choice. At the end of the novel he has figured out that he can have emotional connections to the people around him, even though none of them are, strictly speaking, friends.
  • Rhian in Karen Miller's Godspeaker Trilogy who constantly has to prove she is worthy to rule in her own right and this includes dueling with vassals who will not submit to her. She only has sex with her childhood sweetheart once after she marries him, and that's only to consummate the marriage.
  • While not a Queen per se, D'ol Falla in the Green-Sky Trilogy has a lot of this. Chosen as an Ol-zhaan at thirteen (the usual age) her psychic gifts and personal charm were such that she was made High Priestess only two or three years later. Like all Ol-zhaan she could have "close communion" love affairs but was forbidden to pair-bond (marry) or have children. She had to keep up the serene and regal mask of the High Priestess for the Kindar people, and even her fellow Ol-zhaan. She also has to keep up a mask of ruthlessness as Grandmistress of the Geets-Kel. Yet, all those acts she had to take in her long life now began to weigh on her conscience and ended up injuring Green-sky in the long term, to say nothing of what it did to her psychic powers. Her Choosing Raamo, guided in part by a prophetic dream she'd had, was a way to try and repair some of the damage done.
  • Heralds of Valdemar: Queen Selenay of Valdemar. She has to be The High Queen and a Lady of War when the need calls for it, but it helps that she has the entire Heraldic Circle to trust. Part of the problem, though, is that these are the same Heralds she must often send into deadly danger.
    • Naturally, the one time she fails to ask her Heralds for advice (and they fail to speak their minds), she makes a disastrous marriage that nearly gets her killed.
  • In Honor Harrington:
    • Her Majesty The Queen Elizabeth III of Manticore was forced to wear the Queenly Mask for some time in her youth after her parents were assassinated by Haven's sympathizers, who hoped that a teenage queen would be easy to manipulate. They happened to be wrong. Very, very, very wrong. She had it tough for some time, though, until she won a broad popular support, and not just that of her close allies.
    • President Eloise Pritchart of the restored Republic of Haven, as well — she's not, strictly speaking, a queen, but she is a President with the same responsibilities. And all the more so because she, Thomas Theisman, her lover Javier Giscard, and a few other people had restored a true republic that hadn't existed for two centuries, and so she absolutely must be this in order to ensure it survives.
    • Honor herself is not exactly royalty, but her capacity as a commander suffers from this on-and-off starting with the middle of the second book and coming in full force after the fourth.
  • Ward of Hurog became ruler of a small piece of land after his father died. He had been Obfuscating Stupidity for quite some time, and when he drops that act, he puts on another mask, this time using as an example a legendary hero he admires, whenever he has to do something connected to his title and responsibility. He tells a friend that he has no idea who he himself actually is, after wearing masks for so long.
  • Pearl Buck's interpretation of Tsu Hsi (Ci-xi) in the historical novel Imperial Woman. In real life, it's still debated if Cixi truly as much of an Evil Matriarch as usually depicted or if Red China and its propaganda made her worse than she really was. Considering other testimonies, Cixi was a polemic and very shady figure, but not the uber-horrid monster that she's portrayed to be.
  • Played with in Piers Anthony's Isle of Woman, during a segment that follows a Chinese royal concubine. She follows the trope pretty much to the letter and later becomes the Queen in all but name.
  • Nasuada from the Inheritance Cycle isn't a queen, but she is the leader of The Alliance and theoretically equal to her royal supporters. She has workaholic tendencies and once noted that she cannot indulge in romance, though she has considered proposing a diplomatic marriage to one of her allies. Murtagh has a one-sided crush on her, which will probably turn out to be important in the last book of the series.
    • This turns into a more literal example at the end of Inheritance when Nasuada is declared Queen. Good call on the Murtagh thing, which also enhances this by not allowing the two to be together.
  • Journey to Chaos: Eric notes this sort of change in Kasile in Looming Shadow. When she was a princess she affected a cutesy and friendly persona. Now that she is The High Queen she is cold and regal. When in private with him, she drops the act.
  • Queen-Mother Muriele of Greg Keyes's Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series, after her brother-in-law attempts to seize power by having the entire royal family murdered (thankfully he missed a few). This event leaves her mentally challenged son as the official king, and she has to act through him to lead her kingdom through some very serious conflicts, with only a handful of advisors remaining loyal to her.
  • C. J. Cherryh's Bangsian Fantasy Legions of Hell has a passage portraying Hatshepsut as a case of this. She sent out explorers, listened to their reports when they returned, and all the while she wanted to be an explorer, not just hear what they had to say.
    And if she were not Hatshepsut the pharaoh, she might blurt out, simply, with tears: I want to go, the way she had ached when her explorers had come back to her and told of great waterfalls and strange tribes and unknown coasts and vast seas. I want to go because she had ruled two-thirds of the known world and had no freedom ever to see those things, she could only send others...
  • Subverted in The Lord of the Rings. Éowyn was ordered to be this and refused.
  • The Childlike Empress in The Neverending Story (Die Unendliche Geschichte) is this. She's quite different in the film version, though, because the film never truly shows the burden she has to bear.
  • Prince Tobin/Queen Tamír in Lynn Flewelling's The Oracle's Queen, until close to the end of the book. At this point, with the war over, she acknowledges her feelings for her childhood friend and ends up marrying him.
  • In Megan Whalen Turner's The Queen's Thief, the Queen of Attolia inspires awe and fear in her people, and she certainly isn't nice but her job isn't easy either. Specifically, she was forced to marry a much older man who completely disregarded her, most tellingly eating her food and drinking from her glass without asking permission. So she poisoned her own wine.
    • It doesn't get any easier when our good friend Eugenides wins her love and becomes King of Attolia. He's happy as a clam to be married to the woman he fell in love with so long ago, but he isn't so hot on the job that comes with it. Now, not only does the poor woman have to rule the country, she has to keep reminding her husband that now it's his country too, and he needs to take an interest in ruling it.

  • The Riftwar Cycle: Lady Mara in Raymond Feist's and Joanna Wurtz's Daughter of the Empire and its sequels must take command of the noble house of the Acoma when her parents are killed. Complicating matters is a societal proscription against showing emotion in public.
  • Queen Sharleyan of the Safehold kingdom of Chisholm inherited the throne at a young age after her father was murdered. While her uncle and her first councilor were instrumental in helping her stay on the throne, Sharleyan herself was quick to develop into a strong young woman. Additionally, she did it with the precedent of a less able queen hanging over her.
  • In the first book of Tad William's Shadowmarch, Briony has to rule at age fifteen and though she has a hard time, her brother is completely hopeless.
  • Song at Dawn Alienor is beloved in her home county of Aquitaine but despised in the capital, Paris. There she is called 'the southern whore'. The queenly mask is her only weapon against such gossip.
  • George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire has Daenerys Targaryen, who goes from an innocent princess to this over the course of the series.
  • In Mary Hoffman's Stravaganza, the Duchessa Silvia is this trope to the letter, even to the mask that she legally must wear as an unmarried woman. However, she does not have to worry about doubts of a woman ruler, as Belleza (the Fantasy Counterpart Culture version of Venice) would not accept anything but a female ruler. And furthermore, she takes this role to Magnificent Bitch levels.
  • Queen Ketricken from the Tawny Man trilogy. She has lost her husband, all family and friends, and has had to clean up a kingdom after a war. She also has to deal with the persecution of certain of her people by others of her people. Although she wears plain clothing and little jewellery in public, she still only lets her guard down in private.
  • Orual from Till We Have Faces, as the page quote notes. In this case, she literally wore a mask/veil as well.
  • In Vampire Academy, Queen Tatiana is eventually revealed to be this, being much nicer and more caring than the Ice Queen exterior she wears in public. She is open to having Moroi train in self-defense and wants to protect dhampirs from Moroi royals willing to take away their rights.
  • Gregor in Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga seems to be a rare male version of this. Much talk is made about the "mask" he wears as an Emperor.
  • The Wheel of Time:
    • Elayne Trakand. Her problems are not caused by her sex or youth, but by her not actually being a queen yet. She has to deal with a civil war caused by other aspiring queens, not to mention some highly irritating magic wielders and being pregnant to a man whom (and whose children) dozens of people would love to kill. Oh, and did I mention approaching End of the World as We Know It yet?
    • Egwene al'Vere kind of fits this, too. Or at least she used to. Sure, she's no queen, she's "just" the leader of the resident Mage Species who put her on the Amyrlin Seat as a puppet and nothing more. She had to really take charge and prove them wrong.
    • For that matter, Queen Morgase too. Not the age part, but having to act the very picture of a queen (and the loneliness part, if her fling with Thom is any judge).
  • The High Queen in Wicked Lovely, Sorcha, seems to suffer from this. As she puts it, 'the unchanging queen wasn't allowed to show such emotion'.
  • Princess Marla in Jennifer Fallon's Wolfblade Trilogy starts out as a spoiled princess but becomes more and more this as the books go on, despite the fact that her brother is the High Prince. Several people recognize that she is the one who makes all the decisions in Hytria instead of her no-good brother even while she continues with the charade of being a spoiled brat.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Delenn in Babylon 5 displays the traits of this despite not being a queen.
  • Not exactly a Queen as such, but arguably President Laura Roslin from the new Battlestar Galactica has to fill this role.
  • The Crown (2016) is basically this trope writ large as Queen Elizabeth II struggles to balance her personal life and the requirements of performing the duties of Queen of the United Kingdom.
  • Adelle DeWitt from Dollhouse, who only takes off her mask with someone who doesn't technically exist and whose body is programmed to forget.
  • Blair Waldorf in Gossip Girl. Referred to as 'Queen B' and served by minions, she displays a constant need for perfection and order while suffering secret parental abandonment and insecurity over her classmates' love of her bubbly best friend (Serena). As soon as she leaves, her replacement is so much worse that even those she was worst to miss her.
  • The Great: The first season of the show is about Catherine, who will one day be known as "The Great", learning how to develop that mask. We see her arrive in Russia's most decadent and murderous royal court as an idealistic and naive young woman who keeps blundering every time she says something, and as the season progresses, we see her become more steely and politically savvy until she is not only ready to stage a coup to seize power but is able to truly command the respect necessary for her to be able to do so.
  • The titular character in Queen Seondeok.
  • Queen Anne from The Musketeers is distrusted and disliked by her subjects because she is Spanish-born (at a time when peace between France and Spain was delicate at best). She's often ignored, dismissed, or unfairly blamed when important things go wrong. She is often one of the few nobles in the French court to actually care about the poor and will always do what she can to help others, no matter how dangerous or risky it might be for her.
  • DG from the Sci Fi Channel miniseries Tin Man is often portrayed this way in fanfiction set after the miniseries.
  • Lao Ma from Xena: Warrior Princess. Regent both for her degenerate husband and degenerate son.

  • The Mercedes Lackey song "The Cost of the Crown" deals much in the grief of being queen. For instance, mourning dead soldiers and putting your kingdom's needs before your own wants:
    The royal circlet of bright gold rests lightly on my brow
    I once thought only of the rights this circlet would endow
    But once I took the crown, on which I had been schooled and bred
    I found it heavy on the heart, though light upon the head

    Tabletop Games 
  • Empress Arbellatra in Traveller the founder of the dynasty that rules in the default time of the GURPS version. She was a frontier Noblewoman that repulsed a Zhodani invasion. Then she headed for the capital to crush the struggling warlords and become Empress. Sort of a female Henry VII.
  • Exalted: Some interpretations of the Scarlet Empress suggest that she is this, maintaining a cold, distant facade and engaging in and encouraging cutthroat politics because the alternative (the chaos and division that characterised the Shogunate) would be far worse, and might just be enough to end the world. The occasional reference even hints at great (if private) Angst at what she's become.
  • Empress Elisabetta Barbados from Anima: Beyond Fantasy. She didn't want to become Empress after the death of her father but took the crown because she knows that otherwise the Empire would collapse and as Empress has to deal not only with the many people who think she's just a puppet or that a woman must not rule the Empire (mostly as she's also a religious leader) but also with the Azur Alliance.
  • In the fanmade Princess: The Hopeful, The Queen of Tears is described as being a soft-spoken yet attentive leader who quietly weeps while constantly involved in the defense of her city. When she is alone with other Nobility "the endlessly crying Queen turns hysterical as she unburdens centuries of unceasing sorrow upon the Princess and begs her for help."
    • As a less dramatic example, the Queen of Diamonds appears amongst her court as calm, precise, and brilliant as she dispenses well-reasoned advice, but in private she's a Genki Girl with a boundless passion for learning who talks so fast she stumbles over her words.

  • This is the eventual fate of Glinda in Wicked. Her official title may only be that of "Good Witch", but for all intents and purposes, she is a queen. After Elphaba is forced into Faking the Dead and has to flee with Fiyero before any of them can tell Glinda of their plan, Glinda believes the only two real friends she's ever had to be dead - yet she keeps her promise to Elphaba, and spends the rest of her life as a deeply lonely Stepford Smiler being forced to uphold a Government Conspiracy.
  • The Timothy Findley play Elizabeth Rex toys with this, portraying Queen Elizabeth I of England as The Woman Wearing the Kingly Mask. Throughout the play, set on the night of the execution of the Earl of Essex (leader of a coup and possibly also her lover), Elizabeth struggles with the need to reign as a man in order to govern from a position of strength.

    Video Games 
  • Queen Arshtat from Suikoden V combines this with Blessed with Suck. Taking the throne after her mother (a real Evil Queen) dies, she is forced to bear the country's all-powerful Sun Rune herself to stop it from being stolen. Unfortunately for her, along with the power, it also confers mental instability and delusions of grandeur that have isolated her from both her family and people, not to mention the hard decisions she has had to make to keep her country from full-scale civil war. The game actually plays with this early on, trailers and her actions at the beginning of the game portraying her as a merciless Tyrant, totally at odds with her real character. note 
  • Lost Odyssey: Ming Numara, the Free Ocean State of Numara's "Thousand-Year-Old Queen". Be aware "Thousand-Year-Old" is not an exaggeration. She may have worn the mask during the early years of her reign and after she became amnesiac, but for most of the time she spent ruling her kingdom, she was neither as isolated (having enjoyed a thousand years of ongoing stellar popularity) nor her rule as fragile as the other examples: being the most experienced and cunning ruler -she will know with a quick glance who among her bureaucrat and officers will betray her, decades before they start to contemplate treason, will let them rise in rank for as long as they are useful to her kingdom and single-handedly out-gambit them when they finally turn against her- as well as one of the three most powerful mages on the planet makes things like strictly adhering to the protocol, hiding her emotions, carefully choosing her consort, etc... superfluous considering how unshakable her throne is.
  • Fire Emblem:
    • Elincia is the lost princess during Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance, and rules as queen of Crimea in the sequel Fire Emblem: Radiant Dawn. Her desire to avert this trope by ruling with kindness and compassion leads to internal unrest and rebellion in Crimea, which forces her to reevaluate her rule and be willing to use more force if necessary.
    • Princess Nyna from Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon & the Blade of Light and Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem is almost terrifying in her willingness to throw away her personal happiness for the greater good. This especially comes into play after she marries the future Emperor Hardin not for love but because she thought it was the best for their kingdoms, sacrificing her love for Camus in the process. Things go downhill soon afterward.
    • Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem also gives us Princess Sheena of Gra (she's luckier than Nyna, thankfully). She commands an aura of protectiveness and leadership and the most femininity she can afford is her pink armor. Though she loves cute things, she keeps secret a plushie which was a memento from her late mother, as she believes that if anyone sees her with it, she'd be ridiculed and deemed unfit to lead.
    • Queen Ismaire from Fire Emblem: The Sacred Stones is a beloved ruler, but her total dedication to her nation after the death of her husband led to her becoming estranged from her son Joshua, who eventually abandoned her to pursue his own adventures.
    • Queen/Exalt Emmeryn from Fire Emblem Awakening is more of The High Queen, but she can fit in here as well. After all, she became Exalt before hitting her teens and after a horrible war that tore the continent of Ylisse apart, and pretty much dedicates her life to reform the Halidom of Ylisse into a more peaceful nature, barely thinking of her own needs...
    • Edelgard von Hresvelg from Fire Emblem: Three Houses is the heir to the throne of the Adrestian Empire, and as such maintains an unflappably formal and ruthlessly determined persona towards all but her closest companions, despite still being a 17-year-old girl with all the attendant quirks, anxieties, and insecurities. If Byleth is not there by her side after she ascends the throne, she retreats even further into her queenly mask after the Time Skip, becoming a "harsh leader with a heart of ice".
  • Garnet/Dagger goes through this once or twice in Final Fantasy IX. She's certainly unprepared for the responsibility of being a ruler, but her sense of duty is far stronger than her personal desires - for the most part.
  • Final Fantasy XV: Among the 113 past rulers of Lucis were a few High Queens, and the Royal Edition reveals that Crepera Lucis Caelum fit this trope. Her father and brother were killed by daemons, and Lucis felt that a woman was unfit to rule. Crepera thus spurned the public eye, took to the shadows, and single-handedly led Lucis through crisis. In post-mortem, she is known as the Rogue.
  • Queen Anora of Dragon Age: Origins would seem like this initially. However, her position is really shaky due to the fact that she's merely the King's widow and Alistair, your Lancer, is the half-brother of the king, and therefore has a better claim to the throne than she does.
  • The eponymous Queen of Adretana in Laxius Force III: she has to appear as a capable, no-nonsense leader, despite the fact that she is weeping inside for the sudden death of the King.
  • She's not a queen per se (merely the heir to an absurdly powerful corporation), but Mitsuru Kirijo from Persona 3 fits this description to a tee. In order to live up to the responsibilities of her role, she's always cool, collected, and focused on success, but if you enter her romance route, you'll see how she secretly dreams of a normal life.
  • Played with a bit is Luminous Arc 2. Carnava's rule has been matriarchal for so long that while Queen Sofia does feel the burden of leadership, her authority is never questioned and her subjects carry out their orders unwavering.
  • Princess Zelda of The Legend of Zelda fits this role in a few of her incarnations, most particularly in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess (which is the only incarnation thus far where she is queen, or she was supposed to be before her coronation was put on hold). In The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Zelda's father warns her the nobles believe she's treading this path because she hasn't manifested the sealing powers that Hyrulean queens and princesses possess. He grows upset with the intrigue and shadow politics, telling Zelda she must prove them wrong. She eventually does... but not without the entire kingdom falling into ruin beforehand.
  • Take very literally with Princess Melia of the High Entia from Xenoblade Chronicles, since she had to show a different side to the High Entia she has to wear a mask to hide her Half-Homs face.
  • Queen Aula from Gravity Rush 2 was the unusually young queen of the kingdom of Eto, which resides at the top of the World Pillar. The World Pillar was slowly being consumed by black hole at the bottom, but Eto's Senate assured her it wouldn't reach them for thousands of years. But Aula, apparently unlike her predecessors, was worried about the people who lived farther down the World Pillar and tried to save them. When the Senate balked at the idea Aula sent a message down to the people below offering them shelter. This led to a coup where Aula was thrown off the Pillar.
  • Queen Elizant II from Bug Fables was crowned immediately after her mother's "sudden retirement" and was entrusted with her dream of finding the Everlasting Sapling. However, she was very inexperienced in ruling the Ant Kingdom, reigniting the old hostilities with the Termite and Wasp Kingdoms, banishing all ladybugs from the Ant Kingdom because seventeen of them were raiding aphid farms, and constantly putting on the cold, harsh facade, which made many bugs fear, distrust, or, in some cases, outright hate and resent her. Her facade finally cracks when the Wasp King forced her to give him all artifacts required to find the sapling, and she outs herself as a sad bug with inferiority complex who desperately tries so hard to be the strong ruler, lamenting her inability to live up to her subjects' expectations. In the end, when she opens her heart to Team Snakemouth, she finally becomes the kind and fair ruler the Ant Kingdom needs and rebuilds all broken relationships with the people she pushed away.

    Visual Novels 
  • Saber, aka Artoria, aka King Arthur of Fate/stay night not only fulfilled this trope to a T, she even had to give up her femininity and pose as a boy to do it - even to most of her closest allies. Worse, because Humans Are Bastards, some detractors against "his" rule actually used "his" inhuman image as a way to stir dissent. Her nation destroyed itself in civil war, and she died fighting against the people she had tried so hard to rule well. Even after her death, she seeks the Holy Grail in an attempt to set things right for her country.
    • It's pretty bad when Lancelot apparently figures out after his death that he kinda goofed on that one, and Bedivere was the only one to suspect the mask was exactly that before she died. Even Mordred herself admits after death and some self-reflection that she simultaneously admired, hated, and wanted to lighten the burdens of that role for her. Other than that?... She seemed to get along okay with Merlin, and Agravain wholeheartedly admired her for this, believing that the fact she could wear the mask so well made her the perfect and only choice for a king.
  • Princess Elodie, the heroine of Long Live the Queen, is a young girl who has just had the responsibility of ruling an entire country thrust upon her well before anyone expected her to be ready for the task, least of all Elodie herself. The mood swings she experiences are important for players to consider, given that her attitude affects how well she does in her weekly classes. Focusing on being loyal and eloquent and neglecting to learn how to run an empire or command an army or fight will likely get her either killed or overthrown. Usually killed. On the flip side, focusing on developing her military commanding and combat skills at the expense of court manners or royal demeanour may impact how she behaves in front of her other nobles, which can also result in getting her killed or overthrown. Usually killed.
  • While only metaphorically royalty, Franziska von Karma of Ace Attorney counts. She is the daughter of a legendary prosecutor and feels pressured to live up to his image, despite her self doubts and her fears that she can never be perfect. She slowly comes to realize that her father was only able to stay 'perfect' because he cheated, coached testimonies, falsified evidence, and probably got a lot of innocent people convicted.

    Web Comics 
  • The Remarried Empress: Navier Trovi is a prime example. As an empress with influence on the emperor, she has many duties. She investigates rumours, does a lot of budget paperwork, hosts diplomats, deals with trade affairs, and sponsors promising students as charity work. And she does all of this work while hiding her discontent over her possessive husband's infidelity and a host of humiliating incidents just to fulfill her duty. Her now ex-husband, Sovieshu, seems to believe her a heartless person, but it is made apparent that while being a Consummate Professional, she does have feelings and can be hurt, which her current husband, Heinly, observes at many points.
  • Nefarious: Princess Foxglove tries her best to make sure Kyuutopia is economically prosperous, however, that requires her to cut deals with big corporations that cause massive financial inequality and give her a 0% Approval Rating.
  • Unsounded: Once Queen Sonorie reveals that she has sponsored a cult (of academic atheists), her already dubious court insists on choosing an heir other than from her immediate family, while her treacherous general redoubles his efforts to oust her. Never mind the fact that this multi-national university cult is responsible for most of the continent's advances in technology, they are on the brink of extinction with the withdrawal of their main sponsor, and that she is on the verge of winning the bloody war that her country is engulfed in.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time: Princess Bubblegum has been doing this for more than 800 years and counting, but it's more a part of her personality than a mask. Season 5.2 made it especially clear that she's having a breakdown caused by all the stress she's under throughout the series. She fears dying because it would leave the Candy populace unattended and she has few confidants, namely Lady Rainicorn and The Protagonist Finn. The latter is complicated given how he had feelings for her for the longest time and how her own tendencies mean she can be suspect in how much she cares about him (though it does become clear she genuinely treasures their bond and cares for him as a friend.) She is somewhat unrespected (though that's namely because of her surveillance and her subjects come to appreciate her more when they realize living under the so-called King of Ooo is pretty bad).
    • It's telling that when she was temporarily restored to her 13-year-old self, she did not want to take back the reigns of her 18-year-old self. She preferred to indulge in youthful merriment, especially spending a lot of close time with Finn. She was also more jovial and light-hearted. She only re-aged herself back up since her successor Lemongrab was running the Candy Kingdom to the ground and even then, she was reluctant to.
  • Princess Yue from Avatar: The Last Airbender realised that she must do what is best for the Northern Water Tribe, even though it meant marrying a man she didn't love. In the end, she was willing to take this as far as making a Heroic Sacrifice to resurrect the Moon Spirit.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic:
    • Princess Celestia may technically be one of the two God Empresses of Ponykind, but she hates her duties and the court protocol so much, she enacted a Batman Gambit to manipulate the mane characters into destroying half her palace as an excuse to get out of having to deal with a formal soiree, so she could just hang out with said characters at the local donut shop instead without breach of protocol. It's hinted that her centuries of isolation without Luna was a big reason why.
    • At the beginning of "Sweet and Elite", Rarity is given a room in the palace while staying in Canterlot and goes overboard with the praise, going so far as to kiss Celestia's hooves. The princess is visibly uncomfortable the entire time.
    • In "Princess Twilight - Part 1", Celestia explains to Twilight that she's been enduring the Summer Sun Celebrations for the sake of her subjects, even though it's served her only as a bitter reminder of her needing to banish her sister. However, she is much happier and looking forward to the one in this season, since it now serves as a celebration of her and Luna reuniting.
    • Luna too displays some of this. Though she gets upset when her subjects display fear towards her, she is clearly more comfortable as the distant, imperious monarch as a means of hiding her more vulnerable nature.
    • After Twilight Sparkle becomes a princess, she notably averts this, acting the same as she did before ascending. She even tells her friends not to refer to her as "Princess Twilight."
  • The driving antagonists of Steven Universe are led by a trio (formerly a quartet) of royalty-caste beings called the Diamonds, who led a highly invasive multi-galactic empire. As the show develops these antagonists, variations on this trope come into play:
    • Yellow Diamond could be seen as touching on this trope — she has a song trying to convince Blue Diamond to get over Pink Diamond's death, but by the end, it's pretty clear that she's close to tears herself. (Blue Diamond may also count, but it's not clear if she's even trying to hide her depression.)
      "Don't you know I miss her too?!
      But tell me...
      What's the use of feeling..."
    • We later find out that Pink Diamond zigzagged this. While the Diamond Authority was a rule of four equals on the outside, Pink, being the youngest, was often brushed aside as incompetent, and had begged for her own colony because her authority was essentially a farce put on for their subjects. But when she got the colony she asked for, she realized to her horror that completing colonization would kill the life that lived there — a truth she'd been unaware of, as she'd believed that Gem production "created life from nothing"; she later miserably concludes that they are instead "stealing life and leaving nothing behind." When Pink made the decision as Ruler of Earth to spare the Earth from the resource extraction process that would destroy it, Yellow and Blue wrote her off as irresponsible and ungrateful, usurped control, and made her only task to smile and assure her subjects that the Rebellion that had cropped up against Gem Homeworld rule was no threat. Unbeknownst to them, Pink had created the Rebellion herself; her Puppet Queen role was a part she played in the hopes that her careful balancing act would last until her rebels could free the colonized planet; she even spread Anti-Pink propaganda to incite them further. All the while the Diamond Authority continued putting on a front of being a single, cohesive, flawless oligarchy in order to hold their empire together.
    • Ironically, the rebel leader Rose Quartz becomes this. Initially Rose's purpose was for Pink to be able to socialize with others and experience freedom from the restraints of her class, but since her decision to spearhead a Rebellion, she had to become whatever necessary for her fellow rebels to believe in her competency in leadership and maintain unity in the cause. She had a lot of personal baggage that probably would have torn the Rebellion apart if her secrets had been known and led to the doom of the Earth, humanity, and the rebels, so she hid her flaws under a graceful, perfect, wise, infallible veneer in order to keep the Rebellion together. Which ironically though not uncoincidentally, reflects many traits in the façade propagated by the Diamond Authority about their own leadership.
      • Furthermore, this would meant that Rose would be unable to connect with any of the other Gems as equals because of her mask. Even Pearl, her close confidant, viewed their relationship not as equals and could not provide the emotional support or intimacy she needed. Ultimately, this would be why she would end up with Greg Universe. Greg liked her for her and they were Birds of a Feather. He pushed her to be honest and to change to be more open, furthering her Character Development and giving her some much-needed emotional support. Of course, the other Gems didn't understand this nor why Rose would wanna have Steven at the risk it came to her despite being so beloved (though it's implied Garnet begins to understand once the The Chains of Commanding begin wearing on her.)

    Real Life 
  • The Celtic queen Boudicea. Her husband was killed, she was beaten, and her two daughters were raped by Roman invaders. She did not choose to take that sitting down and declared war on them. She was ultimately defeated but did so much damage that to this day excavators in London still find what's been deemed the "Boudicca's Destruction Horizon" so she certainly didn't go down without a fight.note 
  • Urraca, Queen of Leon and Castile from 1109 AD to 1126 AD. She was Queen in her own right and reigned alone from 1110 onwards.
  • Queen Isabel of Castile (of "Isabella and Ferdinand" fame). After a struggle to claim the throne, she reorganized the governmental system, brought the crime rate to the lowest it had been in years, unburdened her kingdom of the enormous debt her half-brother, King Henry IV, had left behind, and sent Columbus to the New World. Her marriage to Ferdinand created the basis of the de facto unification of Spain. She often led troops while pregnant in course of the Reconquista. Three of her descendants proved that this was In the Blood.
    • Her daughter, Catherine of Aragon. Her first marriage to Arthur, Prince of Wales, ended abruptly with his death, leaving her in a dangerous political position, so she wrote her father to chose a better ambassador to help her case, and he chose her to act in the interem, thus becoming the first European woman to act as ambassador (and an effective one at that) to a foreign court. During her marriage to Arthur's younger brother, Henry VIII , she defeated the Scottish troops in a battle she personally directed with the Earl of Surrey when Henry was in France, note  promoted high-level education for women, and gave a lot of money from her personal funds to charity. After he threw her over for Anne Boleyn, however, Catherine took on the Queenly Mask rather than let her detractors see how much she was suffering, and continued to insist that she was the rightful Queen Consort. Even though she was banished from the court and kept apart from her only living child, Mary Tudor, Catherine remained loyal to England until her last breath.
    • One of her granddaughters, Isabella of Portugal. She was the regent of Spain because of the constant travels of her husband, Charles V, through Europe. Her actions were decisive in the defence of the coasts of the peninsula and of North Africa, which were infested by piracy. This allowed the flow of precious metals and turned Spain into one the imperial treasury's chief sources.note  After her death, her only surviving son, Phillip II, used her claim to the Portuguese throne to establish the Iberian Union.
    • Her distant descendant, Maria Theresa of Austria fits this trope perfectly. She had great difficulty in establishing the claim of her husband, Francis of Habsburg-Lorraine, as Holy Roman Emperor; was betrayed and made war on by her nominal subject Frederick II of Prussia; reorganised Austria's ramshackle military, commerce, agriculture and education; and though she was devoted to her husband, his philandering made her bitterly unhappy; and her son Joseph II's progressive religious policies troubled her deeply. She was also a major Badass - she once gave birth, then rushed off to command her troops in battle with the baby in her armnote .
  • Queens Elizabeth I of Englandnote  and Victoria of the United Kingdomnote .
    "...I know I have the body but of a weak and feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a king of England too, and think foul scorn that Parma or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm; to which rather than any dishonour shall grow by me, I myself will take up arms, I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field...." (Elizabeth to the troops at Tilbury as the Spanish Armada approached.)
  • Catherine the Great had to be this at the beginning of her reign, because her claim for the Russian throne was dubious at best - she wasn't Romanov or even Russian at all, leading many to basically ask, "Seriously, what the hell?" But when her position was stronger, she relaxed a bit.
  • Elisabeth of Austria (Sissi) has to fall into this category. She was shy and introverted by nature, and excruciatingly ill at ease among the stifling formality of Hapsburg court life after she married Emperor Franz Joseph. However, she was instrumental in the formation of the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy, and beloved by the common people.
  • Hawaii's last queen, Queen Liliuokalani. Her husband cheated on her numerous times, and she had the misfortune of reigning just as Eagleland was taking over Hawaii.
    • Elizabeth II, as mentioned in the entry about the film The Queen above, has quite a bit of this trope in her story, too.

It's not easy, being queen.