And so it has come to this: It’s time to fight for the dignity of the nameless prince!
I’m sure you’re familiar with the PBS: the Princess Bowl Subdivision, aka Division 1 Princesses. You certainly know the girls from the major conferences: Leia, Cinderella, Snow White, Aurora & Belle. You even know the ladies of the mid-major conferences: Jasmine, Ariel, Rapunzel, Zelda & Tiana. Hell, you might even be able to name a couple princesses from the PCS (Princess Championship Subdivision, aka Division 1AA Princesses): Mulan or Pocahontas…even Thumbelina (gag).
Yes, love them or hate them, Princesses are out there in all shapes and sizes. Well, not really. They’re pretty much all the same shape and size. NEVERTHELESS, they’re out there. And guess who else is out there — Princes. Ah yes, the enemy of little girls and boys everywhere. Those overbearing/stereotypical/misogynistic princes. Well folks, I’m here to defend them. One prince in particular.
Do you recognize this man? Of course you do. It’s Prince Charming from Cinderella. Here’s what you may not recognize about this fellow: He’s just as oppressed as the woman he saves from a life of servitude.
“How can that be?” you ask. “He’s a prince, for goodness sake! He has it better than anyone in the kingdom!”
Oh, really? Let’s take a deeper look at this poor, neglected shell of a man.
What’s in a name…or lack thereof? Though he’s widely referred to as “Prince Charming,” He’s never actually called this in the Disney version of Cinderella (I’m assuming it’s the most popular version of Cinderella. Just go with it.) In fact, the prince is never called by ANY name in the movie. Not once. Not by the Grand Duke, not by Cinderella, not by the stepsisters or the stepmother. Not even by his own father. He’s just “the Prince.” Can’t a man at least be respected enough to be given a name? Because I’m a caring human being, I’m giving the Prince a name: Prince Emilio.
An overbearing father. People seem to forget the whole reason there’s a ball in the first place: The King — also a nameless male character, by the way — set the whole thing up as a ruse so his son would meet a woman with whom he could settle down and have children. Although he’s cleverly disguised as a romantic, the King is really just a selfish old man who wants what he wants when he wants it. In the case of a daughter-in-law and grandchildren, the King wants them ASAP, which is why he schedules the ball for the very night Prince Emilio arrives home from an undisclosed location. And, of course, upon learning of the existence of the single glass slipper, the King decrees that his son will marry the first woman whose foot it fits. Even if Prince Emilio had the chance to argue with his father or even try to calmly explain his side of the story, would he take the chance of sending the old man into one of his trademark red-faced rages? I think not.
Most of his lines ended up on the cutting room floor. In fairness, Prince Emilio does sing a duet with Cinderella as they dance and fall in love. Aside from the song, Prince Emilio has five lines in the movie. Five. This is the conversation Emilio has with Cinderella as the clock strikes midnight:
Cinderella: It’s midnight.
Prince Emilio: Yes, so it is.
Prince Emilio: No, no, wait. You can’t go now. It’s only…
Cinderella: Oh, I must, please. Please, I must
Prince Emilio: But, why?
Cinderella: Well, I-I, oh, the Prince. I haven’t met the Prince.
Prince Emilio: The Prince? But, didn’t you know that…
Prince Emilio: Wait! Please come back! I don’t even know your name, how will I find you?!
Is that really all Emilio has to contribute to the story? Shouldn’t there have been a scene where he sat down with his father and said, “You know, this is why I left home in the first place. You’re always butting into my business!” Then, of course, one has to revert back to wanting to avoid the King’s rage.
Side note: if they really want to make Cinderella better without changing much of anything, they could get rid of the conversation from above and have Prince Emilio sing the chorus from Stay a Little Longer, “Stay all night, stay a little longer. Dance all night, dance a little longer. Pull off your coat, throw it in the corner. Don’t see why you don’t stay a little longer!”
I can say without hesitation that Cinderella is a masterpiece. I truly enjoy watching it with Bean and seeing the delight in her eyes in the moment the pumpkin and mice are magically transformed into a horse and carriage and Cinderella’s tattered dress is morphed into a beautiful ball gown. I love dancing with her alongside Cinderella and Prince Emilio. It’s wonderful and innocent and a lovely piece of my life with a daughter.
I just wish someone would think of the poor, neglected Prince Emilio.
Oh, and if you’re so inclined, here’s a good story from Minnesota Public Radio: Raising Daughters While Battling Princess Culture.