American fascination with the British royal family used to leave me cold. Didn’t we revolt in 1776 partly to abolish such trappings? Lately I’m caught up in the excitement of royal courtships and weddings. The heritage of “the people’s princess” Diana moves forward with a new generation who talk openly about their feelings, promote human causes with empathy, and marry for love.
Some say instead of calling your daughter a princess, you should tell her she’s strong, or brave, or smart. (Or persistent, or hard-working, but that’s a topic for a different post.) Why not all of the above? Sleeping till kissed by a handsome prince makes a poor role model, but not every princess is so passive. One grew up to become Britain’s longest-reigning monarch.
For an African American girl, a girl of mixed race, a geeky high achiever, any girl who knows she’s strong or brave or smart, why insist fairy-tale beauty and grace are always for somebody else? A princess can be smart, strong, brave, and hard-working. A princess can be a leader who influences a nation or culture. Just look at Diana, Kate, and Meghan.*
* Never mind whether they all hold the title princess. This is about images, not titles or technicalities.
I'm a historian who writes novels and literary nonfiction. My home base is Madison, Wisconsin.