Everyone’s been talking about princesses lately, thanks to Prince William’s marriage to Ms. Middleton today. (It was a lovely wedding, by turns “relaxed” and elegant, involving an attractive couple who are relaxed and elegant themselves, and appear to be much in love.)
The now-Duchess of Cambridge will eventually be a princess, hence all the interest in America. Grown women, apparently, have been expressing their princess dreams, to the point where my husband believes all women have this fantasy forever. When I tried to explain that most of us give it up at a certain age or with some reality checks early on in life, he says only 3 of us gave it up; the rest were holding on, still dreaming. Even “Doonsebury” has been addressing the dream.
When I was young and cute and running around the Mediterranean with a fast crowd of Euro-trash and glitteratti, I met several princesses, as well as a couple of princes. Only one princess was the kind we imagine, and she was unceremoniously dumped by her husband (a sultan) when he deemed his work more important, so only her looks were princess-like, after all.
In those days, a lot of us thought we would probably “put up with” Prince Charles if we had the chance. He wasn’t very dashing, or even remotely good-looking, but he was heir to the British throne, and until 1981 he was quite single. I never did meet him, though, and the princes I did meet were “minor princes,” mostly of Eastern European extraction and trading on their titles and money, without any real power or cache.
One did propose to me, though, which is rare enough, I suppose. He was enormously rich, with homes in Monaco, London and Ghana and a chauffeured Silver Cloud Rolls carrying him from private club to private club, his entourage dutifully following. His name was Prince Noldi and he was very taken with me (remember, I was YOUNG and cute) and insisted I sit with him whenever we crossed paths. He asked me to marry him several times. I always refused. He promised to build me a home wherever I wanted to live. I still refused. He tried to give me gifts. Nope.
It wasn’t so much that he was shorter than me and bald. It was because I was 25 years old, with what I hoped was an exciting life ahead of me — and he was 82.
My so-called friends encouraged the merger — “think of all the money you’ll inherit!” — but I knew that if I took the low road and did that, my dear prince would live to be 102 and I would be miserable and middle-aged, and have missed an exciting life. Besides, what good can come of marrying for money, and a rusty title?
A decade or so ago, I started seeing little girls wearing Disney princess costumes on a daily basis. One of the elements of modern parental indulgence seems to have become “embracing your childhood fantasy” by wearing the cowboy boots and tutu to the grocery store and waving a wand over the turnips.
I wish our parents had been as relaxed. Perhaps fewer adult women in America would still be hanging on to their own princess fantasies. Then again, some of these little princesses may be the young adults now whining about the world owing them a living. Who’s to say which is best. At least I had the chance to choose, and when I did, I knew becoming that princess was not going to involve tutus or tiaras.