In our street there’s been a total absence of trestle tables blocking the traffic and neighbours knocking to find out what I’ve done with the sausage rolls. Having been immersed in interviewing totally inspiring women folk musicians for this issue’s cover feature, except for a chance remark by one of them I might have entirely missed the sprinkling of fairy dust over the latest chapter in our island’s illustrious royal story.
Luckily Scottish fiddler Lauren MacColl wondered about this new princess throwing aside her successful acting career and what that might say about the aspiration involved in shacking up with someone. So I knew what was happening if anyone should clap me on the back and say, “Aren’t they lovely!”
Actually, I think that in abandoning the precarious life of the studio stage for a more secure one on the world stage, Ms. Markle has made a sensible career move. But MacColl is right of course; the princess trope has to change.
Take Cinderella, a woman working all hours unpaid, which is particularly unfair because she’s a stunner. Luckily, due to MAGIC she gets to go to the ball and sit in a seat at the table. The Prince falls in love with her, helped by the fact she’s suddenly unavailable. Although she’s only left early because the magic doesn’t last long, to ensure she doesn’t have a chance to get pissed and make a spectacle of herself.
The Prince passes the test of his affection by not resting ’til he finds her. A lowly servant girl. (Not really; I seem to remember that her parents were aristocracy of some sort and her ill fortune began with the father’s second marriage). Luckily the Prince doesn’t take too long in his search and Cinderella is still beautiful and radiant despite the long hours breathing in detergent fumes and coal dust and with no gloves to protect her hands from the ravages of bleach.
The Prince carts off Cinderella. They get married and live happily ever after, cos he’s got pots of money and she doesn’t have to work any more. This is obviously unsuitable on so many levels.
So here’s a new one for the children.
Cinderella earns tons of money building up her own cleaning empire. She meets the Prince at a bar, where she often goes for a quick half. She buys him a drink. He is grateful because he’s royalty and never has any cash on him. (She never quite got her head round why lower classes are always happy to say “Please, Your Highness, this one’s on me” without realising the awful truth of it.) But the barman here is a staunch Republican and is having none of it.
The Prince falls in love with Cinderella, who doesn’t just pay for the drinks, but can hold her own and knows when to stop. They live happily ever after because they both have their own money, and their sense of self-worth is not tied up in their relationship with each other. They are having an excellent time shagging and know this is because it’s based on mutual respect and their own sense of value as separate and equal human beings in society.