The Ugly Princess and other incredible stories

Does a princess have to be pretty? Yes, she does, says Linnea Tillema in today’s Dagens Nyheter, one of Sweden’s leading daily papers. As a female royal Crown Princess Victoria is forced to constantly balance between the feminine and masculine parts of her profession. Too much of neither is bad for the image: if she’s seen as too feminine, caring or vulnerable, her abilities to rule could be questioned. If she’d develop too many traditionally masculine traits, her femininity would be endangered. However, as a woman she’s still forced to live up to the demands put on her by society: being pleasing to look at is one of them. Being able to give birth to and raise children is another.

Tillema continues by asking what if, for some reason, Victoria can’t have children? What if she chose to adopt instead? Or what if she had found herself falling in love with a woman; could she live out those feelings? Or what if she wanted to have children with her (female) partner; would insemination be allowed for a Queen?

The fact that – still today – society would probably answer those questions with a no, is scary. Talk about living in a gilded cage. As a royal Victoria is forced to mirror her life in the eyes of the public and the public wants her to project all the dreams we ourselves cannot achieve.

Obviously, as an individual problem, this perhaps even isn’t one. Swedish and probably other royals too are well compensated for the limitations in their lives. The issue is therefore more interesting as an image of what women can or cannot do, even if we’re living in the 21st century. Being pretty (or at least doing the best with what you’ve got) and choosing the “right” lifestyle is apparently still what every woman should do. Because if you don’t, you run the risk of not being taken seriously or being seen as a threat.

So, girls, be sure to choose wisely and broaden the public horizon: the more “wrong” decisions we make, the more “right” those will become. Even for a Crown Princess.

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