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dear princess: a letter to charlotte of cambridge

Image via Wikimedia

Image via Wikimedia

 

Dear Princess,

You were less than a week into the world and already people were placing bets on you. You will probably need to get used to this. It started before you were born, even. Gamblers were pooling money to guess what your name would be. Charlotte. A diminutive form of the masculine Charles, meaning strong, virile, and vigorous. Your name, it means ‘petite.’ This is a name you’ll be expected to live up to, Princess, and expect it to be a paradox. Petite but grandiose, because after all, you are royalty.
Dear Princess,

The media adores you. The public adores you. In fact, the whole world adores you. You have become an overnight sensation. You’ve been prescribed an identity without your permission, and before you’ve even had a chance to develop one of your own. The Telegraph informs us that you have the makings of a ‘glamorous…romantic leading lady’. How do you feel about this, Princess? Do you understand what glamour entails, or romance? At one week old, I’d say it’s unlikely. But don’t worry—you will. And it won’t take long. You will find the public eye is very discerning and harsh and unforgiving, once you are able to understand the role it plays in your life.
Dear Princess,

When the eager public first laid eyes on you, they watched as you exited the hospital swaddled in an ivory shawl. Did it compliment your skin tones? It doesn’t really matter—yet. All that’s important right now is that was manufactured by G.H. Hurt and Son Ltd, a company with a long-standing connection with the royal family, apparently. All these connections, they’re important, you have to remember that. And would you believe it? Retail experts have already estimated that you’ll be worth a billion Great British Pounds by the time you’re 10 years old, mostly due to the fashion and beauty industry scrutinising your wardrobe at every opportunity. How old do you think you’ll be when you’re allowed to dress yourself?
Dear Princess,

You were born into an old system, a proud and strict system, and one that simultaneously privileges and oppresses you. You will live a comfortable, luxurious life. You will want for nothing—nothing material, that is. Already, you have been showered with hundreds of gifts. But, already the public speculates—will you receive as many presents as your brother? Such gossip is trivial, but you must understand, Princess, that it represents something more serious. Tradition dies hard, especially a monarchical one founded on keeping women in constant competition with their more entitled male counterparts. So, there’s a lot of pressure on you. You will have to fulfil expectations, to conform to standards, to learn quickly what is and isn’t appropriate for you to do. People will expect you to marry, to give birth to children, to perpetuate the royal line—a royal line along which you will still wait behind your father and brother.
Dear Princess,

When you’re older, you’ll probably want to break away from the image that has been created for you. Like pretty much all teenagers, you’ll want to rebel against what is expected of you, and against what others tell you to do. You may decide one day to dress purely in black, or to shave your head, or to skip class, or to adopt leftist politics. Or, you may not. But the point is, as a member of the royal family, growing up will be harder for you than for most. You will be subject to media scrutiny, and family scrutiny, you will have to fight hard to obtain the freedom and autonomy that you so desperately crave.
Dear Princess,

You belong to a centuries-old family. Many question its place in the 21st century—many claim it hasn’t got one. The majority of the public no longer looks to your family as a source of authority and guidance; more so, as a source of media-frenzy and scandal. Nowadays, the monarchy is primarily constitutional, tokenistic, honorary, and your family does not hold power as it used to. An evolving society will make your position even harder to navigate, Princess, as both your legitimacy as a royal and place as a woman will likely be the subject of much idle gossip.
Dear Princess,

As you get older, you’ll hear a lot of adults call young girls, or older girls, or women,Princess’. You’ll hear a lot of adults call you Princess, too. They’ll say to us that they mean it as a compliment, an affirmation that our actions have been approved, that our behaviour is nice, gracious, modest, that we’re feminine and pretty. Always pretty. I have two things to tell you. First: when you hear them call you ‘Princess’, Princess, they will mean it literally, as well as figuratively. Secondly: do not consider it a compliment.

3 thoughts on “dear princess: a letter to charlotte of cambridge

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