Welcome to Stereotype Saturday, a semi-weekly post discussing stereotypes and tropes in fiction. This week’s stereotype is Lost Princess.
When I think of the ‘Lost Princess’ trope, the first thing that comes to mind is the legend of Anastasia and the books, movies, and wild theories that have been built up around her. Don’t get me wrong, I love Anastasia and I’ve done entire projects on the doomed Tsar Nicholas II. What makes Anastasia’s myth so fascinating is how popular it has remained even after the discovery of her remains. Until recently only the bodies of her older sisters and parents had been found, but in the past decade they finally found Anastasia and her brother Alexi’s corpses.
But the legend remains.
Anastasia isn’t the only lost princess of course, there’s Rapunzel (most obvious perhaps in the Disney film, Tangled), Sleeping Beauty is close to the trope, being lost to her people and herself even if her parents know where she is. Then there’s The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot, my cat Mia Furr-mopolis is named for Mia Thurmopolis, the main character who is less than delighted to discover that she is next in line for the throne.
So what makes this such a popular trope? I have an idea. We read stories because we want to break away from reality. We read because we want to escape reality and experience another world, and often we read because we want to be that character. There are very few little girls who wouldn’t mind being Hermione, for instance, and what little girl wouldn’t want to wake up and discover that she’s a princess? ‘Lost Princess’ characters give them that hope.
This is a photo I took a few years ago of Rapunzel at Disney World, Florida during the Festival of Fantasy.