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How well do we really know movie princes?

They are ciphers in epaulets, completely overshawdowed by the billowing gowns and puffy sleeves of their leading ladies. By Mary Beth Ellis
/ Source: contributor

We’re in an era of fractured fairy tales, and Disney’s “Enchanted,” slated for a Nov. 21 release, bypasses the coyness and dumps a fairy-tale maiden (Amy Adams) into modern-day Manhattan. Her prince (James Marden) and evil stepmother (played by Susan Sarandon), with only slight makeup, follow her there.

Most movie princes function in our fairy tales as supporting characters, the quarterback-handsome dude with the nice crib, someone for the main female character to fall in love at. He’s the crystal carriage enabler rather than his own fully drawn character.

Quick, what do you think Prince Charming’s thoughts on endangered species protection are? That is correct: We have absolutely no idea. They are ciphers in epaulets, completely overshawdowed by the billowing gowns and puffy sleeves of their leading ladies.

Gentlemen! You are more than mere gatherers of glass slippers! As Disney tweaks its own brand, let us delve further into these attainable-only-by-magic royals. There’s got to be more to them than high cheekbones.

Prince Philip
“Sleeping Beauty”Who he is: Prince of somewhere FrenchFemale competition: Briar Rose (Sleeping Beauty’s stripper name)Strengths: Father has excellent liquor cabinet; ability to dance while suspended mid-air; miraculous kisser; literal dragon-slayer; does not mind heavy nappersWeaknesses: Hair does not move

Prince Eric
“The Little Mermaid”Who he is: Prince of wherever he livesFemale competition: Ariel, Ursula the Sea Witch (when in 36-24-36 form) Strengths: Unlike most princes, boasts a fleet of one big boat and one rowboat; excellent biceps; castle by the sea; does not mind lapses in conversationWeaknesses: Kind of an idiot; needs a haircut

Prince Char
“Ella Enchanted”Who he is: Ruler of Lamia Female competition:  Ella, every single person in his kingdom with estrogen Strengths: Good social conscience; is three-dimensional as opposed to inkedWeaknesses: Easily manipulated by transparently evil people; will likely have groupie issues for the duration of his hotness

“The Ten Commandments”Female competition: Sephora and her sisters, Princess Nefertiri
Who he is:
Prince of Egypt, leader of slaves out of EgyptStrengths: Speaks directly to God; can command dinner out of nowhere; and, while the Bible tells us he stammered, when on camera sounded an awful lot like Charlton Heston  Weaknesses: Refuses to ask for directions; will stir up huge amounts of frogs and lice if angered

“The Ten Commandments”Female competition: No one really, but he sure does love himselfWho he is: Prince of Egypt, later PharaohStrengths: Outstanding abs; expert cape twirler; can pull off ensembles featuring enormous bird necklacesWeaknesses: Owned by Moses; tends to drown horses; kind of a jerk

Prince Charming
“Cinderella”Female competition: CinderellaWho he is: Prince of somewhere FrenchStrengths: Has wicked sweet castle; total romanticWeaknesses: Tends to overdelegate to servants; will probably age to be really short and really bald

The artist currently known as PrinceSource: Open to debateFemale competition: Everyone he romances in “P Control”Who he is: Singer/songwriter/performer, star of “Purple Rain”Strengths: Excellent guitar solosWeaknesses: Enjoys wearing crushed velvet entirely too much

Prince Charles 
Great Britain, “The Queen”Female competition: Camilla Parker-BowlesWho he is: Prince of Wales, heir to the throne of EnglandStrengths: Actually and currently exists; owns huge tracts of land; low standards of attractiveness; may act as a gateway prince to his sons, Prince William and Prince HarryWeaknesses:  Most likely over the whole marriage thing

That one prince from “Snow White”Source: “Snow White”Female competition: Snow WhiteWho he is: Prince of dwarf-containing landsStrengths: Awesome pipes; also, wherever here’s prince of, it’s got diamond mines, so dude’s got bank
Weaknesses: Too much rouge

Prince Humperdink
“The Princess Bride”Female competition: Princess ButtercupWho he is: Ruler of Florin Strengths: Owns a ponyWeaknesses: Enjoys killing people; great big liar; enormous wimp

“Hamlet” Female competition: Ophelia; Gertrude, his mother
Who he is: Prince of DenmarkStrengths: Deep thinker, not afraid to mock subpar dramaWeaknesses: Kinda wishy-washy; female competition is his mother

Prince John
“Robin Hood”Female competition: None, perhaps because the women in his kingdom have two brain cells to rub togetherWho he is: A prince in EnglandStrengths: Just waiting for the right woman to turn him aroundWeaknesses: Into heavy taxes; serious little-brother inferiority complex

Prince Akeem
“Coming to America”Female competition: Lisa; women willing to hop up and down while barkingWho he is: Prince of ZumundaStrengths: Has James Earl Jones for a fatherWeaknesses: When schlepping for a minimum-wage job, does not have the wherewithal to work at an actual McDonald’s

So clearly, there are so much more to these princes than merely the ability to lift various women out of poverty, dwarf-enforced labor or a really monster nap. They rode horses. They had feelings. They… made out with their mothers.

Perhaps we were better off not knowing them so well.

Mary Beth Ellis, author of “Drink to the Lasses” is a freelance writer in the Washington, D.C. area, from whence she runs Her prince is an air traffic controller who drives a Ford Focus, and that is OK with her.