Never Mess With a Princess

Betrayal has been a common theme among princess shows as of late, and I think that may be something worth exploring a little further. I incorporated an act of betrayal into my own story, The Stolen Jewel, even before it appeared in three of my favorite princess shows. The betrayal of a princess by someone she cares about is a big trend among Disney properties within the past five years or so. It began with the popularity of Frozen which had a novel twist for a Disney movie in which Anna's true love turned out to be using her for power and tried to kill both her and her sister. Once Frozen became the cultural phenomenon that it did, Disney decided to duplicate the formula with varying results. In my opinion, the most effective of these was Cassandra's betrayal of Rapunzel. The Tangled series gave us over two years to feel as close to Rapunzel's lady-in-waiting as she did, which made it sting that much more when she stabbed her in the back during the previous season's finale.

Betrayal has been a common theme in stories dating as far back as Shakespeare, but princess stories tend to play it safe. Princesses are loved by all who know them. Anyone who would want to do them harm is branded a dangerous enemy to the kingdom from the moment they appear onscreen. That was not the case for Hans from Frozen, Esteban from Elena of Avalor, Cassandra from Tangled, or Queen Dagmar from Disenchantment. These characters were introduced as allies to their corresponding princesses and were not particularly feared or even spoken of by many other people in the kingdom. This is an example of how storytelling has changed with the times. Before the days of the internet, people's circles of friends were quite small and limited by proximity to each other. If one person was a bad seed, everyone knew about it, like an evil queen that the entire kingdom wants to impeach. Today, the circles are bigger with looser ties. It's so easy to log onto the internet and find people from all over the world with similar interests and try to befriend them. Just because they share your interests, however, does not mean they have your best interests at heart.

"Don't talk to strangers" was the most commonplace lesson on TV when the internet was in its early days. Since then, so many people have used social media to form beautiful friendships with people they never would have met otherwise. Today, a better message is "Be careful who you trust," a line that Cassandra recited just after she backstabbed Rapunzel. It's okay to meet new people and put yourself out there, but it's important to be careful with how much information you entrust with someone before you truly get to know them. Even the two years that Rapunzel spent growing close with Cassandra isn't that long in the grand scheme of things. Elena knew Esteban her whole life, but after she found out that he was working with Shuriki, she revealed that she never truly knew him at all. Princesses tend to wear their hearts on their sleeves, which makes it hard for them to protect themselves from the outside world.

Princesses also respond to betrayal differently than many other people would. They are known for their kind hearts and acceptance for all types of people. When a princess is betrayed, she doesn't get angry or seek revenge. Instead, she is left with a hole in her heart that yearns to be filled. Princesses surround themselves with love, so one betrayal does not mean the loss of everyone important in their lives, even though it might feel that way at first. When Cassandra betrayed Rapunzel, Eugene was right there to support her. The same applies to Elena with the rest of her familia and Bean with Elfo and Luci. We've all been hurt in the past, but if we don't let it taint our hearts, we can allow it to strengthen the connections we have with those who still care about us. Many other types of betrayal stories turn into quests for revenge, but one with a princess for a protagonist will become a story about love in the end.

If you've been hurt by someone you thought cared about you, the best way to handle it is to let your inner princess out and focus on the people in your life who still love you and will be there to help you through it. Those who are innocent and compassionate are the ones who are most prone to betrayal. It's easy to take advantage of their kind nature. Yet, princesses can get an entire kingdom fighting to protect them because their light shines through the darkness and can overturn even the most cynical of minds. It makes me so happy that princess stories have grown up alongside me and continue to teach me valuable life lessons even to this day.


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