Some Day (Surely) My Prince Will  Come?

A Fairy Tale of Royal Weddings & Missing Princes

Once upon a time in a land far, far away lived a Little Princess. She lived with her mother and father, who were, of course, the King and Queen, in a very small, but very perfect, castle. Each night, before, bed, the King would lift the Little Princess on to his knee and hug her good night. And each night he would tell her that, when she grew up, she could become anything she chose. "Anything?" the Little Princess would ask. "Anything," the King would affirm. And she would sleep soundly. You see the Little Princess couldn't really imagine ever being anything other than the princess she already was and she was perfectly content to remain just that.  She would dream of attending royal balls, travelling across town in a golden carriage and being given flowers by her besotted subjects. And, providing the right one came along, she imagined that one day she might even marry a prince from another land.

But one day she awoke from her her sound sleep to find that the life she was living as an adult was rather different to the one she had imagined while a child. Because, of course, her parents were not, in fact, the king and queen – they were just ordinary folk and she wasn't even a princess, she was just a Would-be Princess.  But still she remembered that promise – that she could be anything she wanted to be. And because, in the intervening years, other things had taken her fancy she had sought out a different path. One that had taken her far away from anything remotely royal. But she never lost hope of getting that first wish – to be a princess for ever and ever. She knew now that she had only one chance of becoming one. She had to marry a prince! And so she set her sights on finding the perfect one.

But soon she realised that finding a prince to marry was not as easy as she'd imagined. First of all, it proved quite impossible even to meet one. And it seemed that as soon as she identified one, he appeared smiling before the cameras, and announcing that he had already found the beautiful girl he had chosen to become his princess. Princes were getting engaged left, right and centre. In far-off lands like Spain, and Denmark, Sweden and Norway, princes were marrying themselves off with alarming regularity. She ruled out the ones whose parents ruled by absolute power (she didn't want to be a dictator) and the exiles (not much point in being a princess without any land over which to rule). 

She knew of two young British princes, whose late mother had been called the most beautiful woman of her generation. But, in reality, as handsome and charming as both were, they were far too young for her. And she knew that, wherever they went, they were followed by photographers and reporters and that their lives would never really be their own and that just didn't sound like fun. Besides, the older prince had already had his eye caught by a willowy dark-haired beauty and everyone knew they would one day marry, even if their families wondered when that day might come.

No, the Would-be Princess knew she would have to look elsewhere for her prince. And, as luck should have it, long ago she'd heard of one who lived in a sunny land named Monaco. The son of a dashing father and divinely beautiful mother who once was a film star, he was now the ruler of an entire principality. And, oh, it was glamorous! With rocky cliffs, winding roads and designer boutiques and with dozens of huge yachts bobbing in its beautiful marina. The prince was of a sensible age for her, handsome enough but not so much that every girl in the world would be throwing herself at him. He was sporty, a clever businessman and, so far, remarkably reluctant to settle down to married life. Rumour had it that his late father had despaired of him ever bringing home a new princess to the pink palace. 

The Monaco Prince had sisters and nieces and nephews who were more than happy to share out official duties, so the Would-be Princess knew she wouldn't have to work too hard. She would have plenty of time to sit and be preened and to try on her tiaras in front of a great big mirror.The Would-be Princess thought it might suit her just right! No damp summers spent fishing in Scotland getting bitten to death by midges. No dreary days out aiming guns at innocent birds in Norfolk. And no having to sit for hours reading out the decisions of a government and pretending they were her choice too. 

What she wanted, what she needed, was a room-service kind of princesshood. Oh she didn't mind shaking a few hands here and there. Or receiving flowers from little girls. Not at all. And she certainly didn't mind turning up to the Olympics, or even football matches and supporting the national teams. These were small prices to pay for the lifestyle she knew she should have been born into. But then she became distracted. Indeed, the entire world became distracted because the older British prince finally became engaged to his sweetheart. And everyone, including the Would-be Princess, stopped to watch. But while she was watching something terrible happened. The Monaco Prince, the prince who would never settle down, had found his sweetheart. The Would-be Princess was borderline devastated to learn her chance had passed her by yet again. She knew, in her heart of hearts, it was probably her last chance and that she would never be a princess. 

But an extraordinary thing happened as she looked more closely at the engagement photographs. As handsome as she had once found the Monaco Prince, she now noticed a few imperfections in her once-chosen prince. He didn't seem quite so handsome as she'd once thought. Now he looked a bit staid and, frankly, a bit unglamorous. She realised that it had been some 20-odd years since he'd first caught her eye. She wondered what other tricks time had played on her. And then another extraordinary thing happened. She looked around at her life. Her simple, anonymous commoner life. Her home and her garden. She looked at the flowers she had grown and the vegetables she had planted and let out a happy sigh. Because this was her palace. She no longer needed, nor yearned for, riches, or jewels or subjects. She was the princess of everything before her and she would sleep soundly that night.

But as she was about to go indoors, she thought she saw a frog sitting on a lily pad in her pond. "Now, I wonder …"