Story last updated at 12/18/2013 - 5:07 pm
There are no ugly princes in fairy tales.
The princesses are all very beautiful, too. Nobody has bad skin or bad breath, everybody wears fine clothing, and there are no Bad Hair Days in fairy tales. Kings are benevolent, even dragons and ogres are kinda cute.
But Once Upon a Time, real life wasn't so nice for your average royal. In the new book "Princesses Behaving Badly" by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie, you'll see that everyday existence could've been a royal pain.
Ask a gaggle of 6-year-old girls how they dressed for Halloween and chances are that you'd be in the presence of many a little princess wanna-be. That fascination doesn't fade, either: years after we've outgrown the sparkle-pink ballgown stage, some of us are still rather captivated by beautiful royalty - although princesses like Kate Middleton are, historically speaking, definite anomalies.
Take, for instance, Khutulun Khan.
Born in central Asia somewhere around 1260, Princess Khutulun was an only daughter with 14 brothers. As you might expect, this meant a bit of scrapping amongst siblings, and Khutulun grew to love wrestling. Yeah, WWE-type stuff.
"That was a problem," writes McRobbie, since Princess Khutulun vowed to remain single until she could find a man who could defeat her. (She didn't, but she eventually married anyhow).
Princess Pingyang of China's Tang Dynasty was married already when her father went to war, followed by Pingyang's brother and her husband. Rather than retreat to safety, the well-loved princess gathered her own army, which was larger than the one her father commanded. And yes, they won the war.
Then there was the "princess" who really wasn't royalty at all: for several months, Mary Baker convinced an entire town that she was a Javasuvian princess named Caraboo. She spun a good story filled with adversity and adventure, and she did it for fun - until she was caught in her elaborate lie.
In this book, you'll learn about a North American princess, and the "dollar princesses." You'll read about princesses who sympathized with the Nazis and one who had a "weird habit of collecting babies." You'll learn about a princess who became a saint, and one who chose an insane asylum instead of a husband. You'll find out about princesses who took lovers (men and women) and three who gave up their crowns for romance.
Looking for a personal antidote to royal pink overload? "Princesses Behaving Badly" gleefully offers it - but that's not all.
In addition to a good look at feminine tail-kicking through the ages, author Linda Rodriguez McRobbie also sneaks humor into this fun history book with snide side comments. Those laughs come when you least expect them because they're hidden inside the stories of strong, determined women who did things that most people don't think princesses should do.
A few of the stories in this book may be familiar to some readers but, overall, McRobbie includes a good mix that will satisfy anyone who loves tales of history and audacity. If that's you, then "Princesses Behaving Badly" will make you happily ever after.
"Princesses Behaving Badly" by Linda Rodriguez McRobbie, c.2013, Quirk Books, $19.95 U.S. and Canada, 288 pages.