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A reading list fit for a princess

Brian Bethune presents some essentially unroyal takes on dragons, princes and the working life for a modern Princess Charlotte


 
(Photograph by Rachel Wine)

(Photograph by Rachel Wine)

Most commoners, ticking off the advantages that being born royal heaps upon a young princess, probably run out of steam after listing the palaces, the jewels, the servants, the horses and the attention. We don’t stop to think that one perk of royalty is never running out of chances to read about themselves, in fiction as much as in the media. And in children’s literature, if not always in real life, princesses have it all over their brothers—Amazon.ca lists 10,000 books with “princess” in the title, versus 5,000 for “prince.”

Yet the life of a princess is not what it was—Charlotte is the first of her lineage to have her right to the throne ranked by birth order and not by sex—and the newest royal may have a harder time finding suitable tomes. Maclean’s is happy to help, with a few suggestions for a thoroughly modern princess.

In one of the foundational texts of contemporary princessdom, The Paper Bag Princess, Elizabeth is leading a traditional princess-y life when a dragon scorches everything she owns, and takes off with her fiancé. Undaunted, Elizabeth dons a paper bag and rescues her prince, who turns on her for her un-royal appearance. She punts the fop out of her life.

Kindred spirits for Elizabeth can be found in Princess in Black (the secret identity of a royal who defends her realm against goat-eating monsters) and in A Gold Star For Zog. Poor Zog keeps failing at one of his key assignments in dragon school: capturing a princess. So his human friend reveals herself as Princess Pearl, and allows Zog to capture her. He gets his gold star, and in return acts as an air ambulance for Pearl, who really wants to be a doctor. The gutsy heroine of Rosie Revere, Engineer, may not be blue-blooded, but her determination is regal. Encouraged by her great-great-aunt Rose, who like Charlotte’s great-grandmother Elizabeth performed mechanical labour during the war, young Rosie rises from fear of failure through one ingenious construction after another.

Nothing so dramatic occurs in The Old Man of Lochnagar, but this whimsical book by Charlotte’s grandfather, the Prince of Wales, explains why certain people living in Scotland are called “gormless” and why her family prefers Balmoral to London. Finally, a book literally for the newest resident of Kensington Palace, The Queen’s Hat. When the wind snatches the royal headgear, the Queen—who closely resembles great-grandma Elizabeth—and all the Queen’s men must pursue it through London landmarks until it comes to rest on a baby (guess who?) in a carriage at Kensington Palace.

Here’s more of Maclean’s in-depth coverage of the birth of the second royal baby:


 

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