America has recently been graced with a visit from the very embodiment of cheer and goodwill. Our visitor’s rosy cheeks are accompanied by a jovial disposition, he has a special affection for children all over the world, and sends woman into a frenzy. No, our guest is not Santa Claus--I'm talking about His Royal Highness, Prince Henry of Wales (but the girls just call him Harry).
Prince Harry’s visit has been a spectacle of international goodwill. Harry has done everything from shake hands with our politicians to play baseball with our children. But I am worried that he may have gotten the wrong impression of American women. It seems like very woman he locks eyes with has a panic attack or breaks down in tears. We don’t drop what we are doing and break into tears or intense ogling when confronted with every man with a British accent--just princes.
Like most American women, I grew up on a steady intake of fairy tales and a sometimes over-active imagination. I could sit and daydream for hours about the prince who would sweep me off my feet and save me from the drudgery of my ordinary life. With my Prince Charming, there would never be a dull moment. I would be kidnapped daily, saved by my Prince, and returned to the castle before dinner.
So I can relate to the women who gaze into Prince Harry’s beady blue eyes, in search of the man from her dreams. But other than the title -- and maybe the part about living in a castle--how many of the qualities that make up our fairytale daydreams can actually be found?
We know Prince Harry enlisted in the British army and fought in Afghanistan; Apparently he enjoys playing billiards, in the nude, and rugby with his clothes on; he seems to have displayed some diligence in raising money for an orphanage in Lesotho. But really, I can’t say I know much more than that. Still, women persistently fill in the gaps in their royal fantasies and then wish it into a living reality.
Perhaps my heart has gone all stale and crunchy from too many years of princely deprivation, but this "royal bad boy with a heart of gold” shtick just doesn't do it for me. After all, it was never really my Prince Charming’s public conduct that attracted me; it was the way he conducted himself towards me that melted my heart.
Prince Harry is not the only man who gets this royal treatment in America. How often do we find ourselves swooning over the suspiciously white smiles of Hollywood men? The only interaction we have with these actors, are when they are in movies--being paid to be someone they are not. Yet, we hang their posters in our rooms and tell ourselves that their roles are reality.
The truth is, the prince from our daydreams was everything we could have hoped for in a man, and we knew this because we made him up in our own heads. But no matter what story we build for Prince Harry, or Ryan Gosling for that matter, we can't turn him into our Prince Charming --and its probably not healthy to start planning our royal wedding.
Let's forget the crown and go back to searching for what was actually attractive about our fairytale princes: a man of virtue who knows and loves us. No crown or royal lineage perhaps, but well worth waiting for.
(Photo byAndrea Rose)