In our society, the role of the Princess has often been coveted through both media and fairy tales. The recent wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton and endless Disney movies still show that we have an obsession with the persona of the princess, the beautiful maiden who is all song and loveliness, usually up against some odds, whether it be locked tower, evil stepmother or dragon, just waiting for her beauty to lure someone in to rescue her. It's a beautiful story, but is it something to really aspire to?
About a year ago, I had a discussion with one of my coworkers who had been in a relationship for a while, but found himself being pursued by a beautiful girl who came from money and seemed to offer a life of bliss, limited struggle and future financial stability. She was becoming quite vigilant in her pursuit of him, with little regard for his relationship, which she was well aware of. I looked at my coworker and told him, "She sounds like she's a Princess, but I think what you deserve, and will ultimately want, is a Queen." I am quite aware that the princesses of our world (Lady Di, Princess Grace of Monaco and now the Duchess of Cambridge) have had a more philanthropic impact and have done great things in our world, but I'm speaking here of an archetype.
I explained the difference to him like this: a Princess is lovely, but she needs to be forever rescued. She doesn't have control or power over anything, just the illusion of it. She will look for ways to put herself in peril so that you will spend your days acting as a Knight in Shining Armor, expending your strengths and abilities. Heck, most princesses are asleep while their "true love" is out slaying dragons, risking life and limb, to save her.
What you really want is a Queen. She has to rule her kingdom with a level-head, compassion and strength. She has to put her own self-interest to the side in order to protect the dignity of both her family and her people. She doesn't wake up in the morning ready to be beautifully dressed so that she can wander the garden and be admired. She wakes up ready to face the day and make decisions that won't endanger herself or others, and will promote the future of her kingdom so that others can thrive and prosper. She doesn't make decisions that will compromise her people's security, such as spending money or going in to battle, without much thought and counsel of those that she respects and admires. This is what you want in the woman in your life.
This co-worker still remembers this discussion and references it on occasion as to what he is looking for, and while I do believe what I said, living it is much harder than just sharing it with another. Who doesn't want to live a life of perpetual admiration with little expectation or pressure to make bold decisions? Some days I feel like life would be easier if I could be lifted from the cinders and swept away into a castle, but that's where the illusion of Happily Ever After begins. What then?
My hope is that I appreciate the princess, but that I live and act like a queen. I want to make the lives of those around me better. The princess can smell the roses, but the queen can command that the most exotic and lovely plants be brought in to make the kingdom more beautiful. The princess can be the belle of the ball, but the queen had the resources to make it happen. The princess can marry a prince and wait for the someday when she'll have the opportunity to make a lasting impact, but the queen is able to do this every day.