October 13, 2013 catherinetownsend

Case Study: Prince Charming

Girls grow up dreaming about finding their Prince Charming, but taking an adult look at our favorite fairy tales illustrates the importance of a pre-marital background check. As an investigator I need to verify (at a minimum) identity, marital status, financial information, and moral character for my client, Cinderella. How much does she know about her knight in shining armor? And what really happens to princesses after they ride off into the sunset?

1. Identity

My investigation actually shows that Prince Charming has no name. In her book Little Red Riding Hood Uncloaked, author Catherine Orenstein writes that storybook Prince Charmings ‘can be viewed more as rewards for the heroine rather than characters’. Wikipedia calls him a ‘stock character’ for a good reason: Basically, he’s someone onto whom we project our dreams. We’re not in love with him; we’re in love with the idea of a happy ending that he represents. He’s not a real person.

2. Marital status
I unearth evidence that Prince Charming is technically a bigamist. He’s promised happily ever after to women including Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Rapunzel, and The Little Mermaid.

In fact his only constant companion (and closest emotional connection) appears to be his horse.

3. Financial Information

Though Prince Charming’s employment record is spotty, he is from a wealthy family and has several assets including jewelry, gold coins and a castle. However the nature of the family business has potential to be highly unstable due to outside forces challenging the throne.

4. Character

This is where he fails big time. Because Prince Charming loves to rescue damsels in distress, but many of his exes went through serious suffering.  Sleeping Beauty bled. Snow White was in a coma surrounded by potentially necrophiliac dwarves. And in the original versions of the story, The Little Mermaid stabs herself and gets turned into sea foam.

I used an imaginary example to illustrate a serious point: Many modern romances begin this way – in fact, in our culture it’s held up as the ultimate romantic ideal.

But before you get ready to ride off into the sunset, a good investigator can help you make sure that your happy ending isn’t just a fairy tale.


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