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Rags to Royalty

how to marry into royalty

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In her case, everyone glosses over the frog phase.

A classic of literature. this Changeling Fantasy is as simple as it is sublime: the beautiful. hard working. put upon commoner girl who never loses her hope will be a princess or queen by the story's end. That much is certain, what varies is how she goes from Rags to Royalty. The following is a non-exhaustive list of common variations:

  • Cinderella Style: A commoner by birth, or with only minor ties to nobility. Nonetheless, through hard work, perseverance, and the help of some musical animals, she'll swoop into the ball and make the prince her "husband". Other classics of this type: Beauty and the Beast . Aladdin and King David
  • Snow White Style: Legitimately royalty. but forced into hiding to escape those who plot against her or because she cannot act as she needs to as long as she is seen as royal. Usually part of a Fish out of Water plot as she tries to hide her royalty and fake being a commoner. May have to prove birthright with bizarre tests or special trinkets only the legitimate Princess would have. Other classics of this type: "The Princess and the Pea ", "Donkey Skin ".
  • Sleeping Beauty Style: Like the Snow White, she's royalty and forced into hiding for protection. Unlike the Snow White, she has no idea she has a Secret Legacy and is actually royalty. Of course, her Genre Blind guardians feel she's safer not knowing her ancestry or that there are evil forces seeking to harm her, or possibly they don't know either. You can guess how that ends. (Note: Named after the Disney version of the story only. ) The classic Gender Flip version is, of course, King Arthur. It also features in such fairy tales as The Dancing Water, the Singing Apple, and the Speaking Bird
  • King Thrushbeard Style: A spoiled royal daughter who loses her inheritance due to her own actions and is forced to live in poverty. Fortuitously, when she comes to realize the value of what she lost, it is restored to her. Often as part of

    her humiliation she marries a commoner, who turns out to be a King Incognito whom she had previously scorned.

  • The Goose Girl Style: Those who plotted against the princess succeed, and she is forced into a menial position. or enslaved. until her story comes out. Usually, the princess knows who she is, but isn't able to tell the truth, and she may be ignorant.
    • A Gender Flip classic of this type, the Child Ballad "The Lord of Lorn and the False Steward "; it also appears with Ozma
    • A common technique is to combine this with Cinderella. The heroine wins the prince, perhaps even marries him and has his child; then her enemies triumph over her, and she must flee until she is restored. Bride and Switch is also common, just before the wedding. Such a combination occurs in The Wonderful Birch

      and The Maiden Without Hands

This is Older Than Feudalism. and has long since gone into being a Dead Horse Trope when used in a serious application. However, sweeten the deal with a deconstruction or other device, and this will work quite well in a modern setting.

Epidemic in the Fairy Tale. it often reappears in retellings of fairy tales. This is a common reason why kings who have promised the Standard Hero Reward decide instead to assign another Engagement Challenge. and then another. And another. (This is usually very unwise in the long run.)

Christopher Booker takes the Cinderella version for his second plot, Rags to Riches. According to his scheme, the hero seems to get everything he wants very early. only to lose it through a serious character flaw, which leads to the darkest moment for the hero (e.g. in the original Aladdin . when the villain had stolen both the lamp and the princess). Then, of course, the hero manages to face his flaws and gets an even better prize than the one he would have been content with early on.

Due to social expectations/gender double standards, male versions of this trope are rarer (especially ones involving a romance between a rich woman and a poorer man), but do exist in fiction and real-life.

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