Back in less enlightened times, Princesses from the magical realms were expected to be vain. They grew up, focusing on their looks, surrounded by mirrors, still pools of water, ice-sheets and swooning swains. This was hardly surprising given a predominantly patriarchal, verging on the misogynistic bardship but in fact the requirement was based on the criteria laid down in Ungent the Ungallant’s seminal work on the Monarchical Peccadillos of the Despots of Fairyland (970 to 1231).
Times change and pressure mounted for a new definition of what made a true fairy princess. The well-regarded if usually avoided, especially at parties, Robust the Didactic declaimed (often and at length as was his way) that the rise of Evil Queens could be directly correlated to the imposition of the ‘vain’ requirement on impressionable princesses, with the standards being increasingly set at levels unattainable in a pre-Botox age without unconscionable amounts of magic and its application by Fairy Godmothers who, as it happened were dwindling in numbers as universities began to focus on mathematics and debating societies and less on alchemists, horoscopologists and godmothers of all hues and inclinations. Something new was needed.
A committee was formed and the issue debated. Finally a new improved definition was alighted upon. Princesses, henceforth should be V.A.I.N: Vivacious, Articulate, Intelligent and Normal.
As was the way in the magical realms, this was accepted to universal acclaim though many princesses protested. They had spent their lives, working on their beauty regimes in the hope that a peripatetic reptile might happen by and save them from a life of poisoned fruits, long walks in over hot hooded cloaks and interminable turns at the ubiquitous spinning wheel, in return for a cheeky snog in the bull-rushes.
So a proclamation was dispatched to the four corners (as well as along each side) of the magical realms, aimed at all the Lords Chamberlain, Factotae and other oleaginous civil servants: find a princess that fitted the new mould.
The bigger realms set to. The medium sized ones said they’d get round to it just as soon as they’d filled in the usual potholes in the yellow brick roads. The smaller ones hoped no-one noticed them. One of the smallest, Tinkety-Tonk, didn’t even realise there had been a proclamation. That was until a wandering page, Will Ingtocompromise passed through. Sitting in the Inn he listened to the local riff-faffery moaning about their latest Princess and how she wasn’t up to scratch. As the story unfolded, Will became determined to talk to the Lord Chamberlain.
This is what he heard. The problem was Princess Pointless. She hadn’t been in line for any sort of queendom; she wasn’t even the spare, just one of several meahs. She had received the usual training: dressmaking and depilation, patchwork and preening, but when that finished, she’d been expected to fade away, wail a bit and try and avoid teeth gnashing (it being accepted that meahs were entitled to a crown of sorts even if it was only an orthodontical one).
Instead Pointless had shown herself to be very unprincessy: articulate and intelligent, yes but that wasn’t normal was it? Not for a true princess. She wanted to be a mechanic, apparently.
None of that would have mattered until one day when a tragic accident involving the senior princesses, an incongruent unicorn and fifty one sachets of lube occurred.
Pointless had been in the middle of practicing her free diving technique using a portable sump, twenty two duo-decahedral cogs and a silicone-infused polyaplha-ester combo when she was summoned to the Palace. There it turned out Chaos reigned. The reason Chaos had been put temporarily in charge was because, in addition to the loss of the princesses, the King and Queen had lost their poise. While a search was instigated for the lost poise Chaos stepped in. It offered the usual reward for the poise’s return: – any one of (a) marriage to a minor royal but, this being a modern take, not a royal minor, (b) a tax-free happy-ever-after annuity and (c) transconfiguration of up to ten family members and acquaintances into any organism (subject to the usual bacterial and invasive species exclusions). On seeing Pointless, Chaos sniggered, mumbled ‘Perfect, I couldn’t have done better myself’ and offered her the crown. It was gone before the Lord Chamberlain had donned his ermine slippers of office.
Stu Bbornesspersonified had been Lord Chamberlain for a long time. He kept his head down and avoided making any decisions. That being his normal state he just nodded and left Pointless to it.
She did her best but she wasn’t vain and the good folk of Tinkery-Tonk felt cheated. Disquiet moved amongst the masses. ‘We need a proper princess.’
Things were getting desperate when Will appeared offering the Lord Chamberlain a solution. He handed him a copy of the proclamation. Stu read it. ‘You sure about this?’
‘She’s no one’s idea of normal.’
‘The new normal has yet to be defined. We can wing that.’
‘But what about this “vivacious” thingy? What’s it even mean?’
‘Let me take her to the Magical Citadel to be presented and I think everything will be okay.’
Pointless was presented at the next symposium. Her articulacy and intelligence were approved. Her normalcy was taken as a given, since no one knew what normal was any more.
As for the final criteria, well that was dealt with when she was announced on arrival.
‘You Majesties, Lords Chamberlain, magicians, witches and other spell-masters, I give you Princess… Viv Acious!’
This was written in response to this month’s #blogbattle