Maybe it’s Cinderella’s fault, or Belle with her gorgeous yellow gown, but for as long as I can remember, I’ve loved reading about royalty. Princesses, in particular. There’s just something about them which captivates me. Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Kiera Cass’s Selection series, Rachel Hauck’s Royal Wedding series, Jody Hedlund’s Lost Princesses, Lori Wick’s The Princess, Brigid Kemmerer’s A Curse so Dark and Lonely, just to name a few. Basically, if a book has a pretty gown on the cover, a prince or princess as a main character, and/or a tiara or some jewels, it’s highly likely I’ll read it. As to the why?
Admittedly, when I was young, it was mostly about the sparkle. Beautiful gowns, sparkly jewels, glittery tiaras, royal balls – what more could a girl want? But, alongside that, was the idea that anything was possible. I knew it wasn’t likely I’d get out of tidying my room by some fairy godmother suddenly whisking me off to a royal ball, or come across a grand palace (with an endless library of books) while traipsing through my suburban neighborhood, but that never stopped me from dreaming about it.
But these days? When I’m past those childhood dreams of meeting royalty and getting out of chores? What is it now that still draws me to royal fiction? Not only to read but to write?
Here are just a few reasons I still love it:
The number one reason I love royal fiction is because of the expectations that come with being a royal – and what happens when they go awry. Which, inevitably, in some form or another, happens in every royal-based novel.
Whether or not we say it out loud, we all hold certain expectations of royals – like the fact that they’re beautiful, they’re well behaved, they care more about their people than themselves, they say the right things, they marry certain people.
But what happens when they don’t live up to those expectations? When they fall for the ‘wrong’ person. Or hate the spotlight. When they’re not classically beautiful, or prefer high tops to high heels. When a word spoken in frustration becomes something they’ll never live down because of who happened to hear it. When a simple mistake becomes worldwide drama.
It makes royal fiction so much more interesting because the characters are under that added level of pressure. Every decision they make affects not only themselves but their country and all the people looking up to them. When torn between two decisions, do they do what’s best for themselves or what’s best for their country? What if choosing their country means denying their own heart? Ahhh… the dilemmas!
A Momentary Escape from Reality
I’m never going to be a royal. And, to be honest, I wouldn’t want to. That level of scrutiny? All those rules and regulations? Having to dress up all the time and never have an ‘off day’??? No way. Give me my jeans, privacy, and simple life any day.
But there is something nice about ‘living’ that life for a little while and, through books, being swept away into a royal world of gowns and intrigue and decisions so much bigger than I’ll ever have to make. It’s exciting and grand – and makes me appreciate my life even more when I get back.
The Gowns and Grandeur
I admit it, this is still a pull. I might have grown up but I’m still that little girl dreaming of pretty dresses. The gowns, the tiaras, the endless wardrobe (which totally suits the girl and no one ever seems to have to pay for). No, I don’t want to be a princess but I love a good ballgown, and the idea of being dressed in one, my hair and makeup done beautifully (by someone else, of course) and feeling like a princess for a night? Sign me up! I always sigh in that moment in books/movies when the princess walks down the stairs in all her finery and the prince catches his breath at the sight of her. What girl doesn’t want to be thought of as beautiful?
Speaking of the prince… I’m just going to say it. Royal fiction is that much better because it has a prince. Call me old-fashioned but there’s something so romantic about a prince coming to a girl’s rescue. Could she save herself? Probably. In some books, she does. In some books, she’s the one to rescue him (which is also sweet). But, I’ll be the one swooning every time when a prince steps up and saves the girl, proving himself worthy of her love.
Maybe it’s the romantic in me which finds this so captivating, but maybe it’s something deeper. I wonder, sometimes, if stories like that make my heart cheer because it reminds me of what God did for me. The King, sending his Son into the mire and darkness of my life to fight my dragons, save me and pull me out of my messy life when I was an absolute nobody. Not a princess. Not a royal of any kind. Simply a commoner. Not because I had anything to offer but simply because He loved me. Because He saw something in me that He thought beautiful. Because He thought me worth the rescue. Worth a room in His palace. Worth a life lived with Him forevermore.
Happily Ever After
Which brings me to one more thing I love – happily ever afters.
There’s a lot of mess in this world. A lot of not very happy moments. A lot of reasons to give up. Royal romances, with their happily ever afters, remind me that there’s still good too. There’s still a reason to hope and dream and believe.
Seems I have a lot to thank Cinderella for after all.
(This article first published on READ at WhiteFire, July 2020)
For further reading see my Royal Book List!