The Most Beautiful Princess
By Ruth Calder Murphy (Arciemme)
Prince Julian stamped her feet. She was five years old. Stamping was allowed.
“But I don’t want to be a boy!” she said. “I’m a girl.” Her nurse tutted.
“Tut, tut tut,” and carried on brushing down the princely clothes. Prince Julian was getting very fed up now.
“Don’t just ‘tut’ nurse,” she said. “Why do I have to be a boy? You of all people should know that I’m a girl. You know. A boy without a…”
“ALRIGHT Juliet,” snapped the nurse. “I know. I know that. Your mother knows that. Everyone with” she lowered her voice “half a brain cell knows that. But your father,” here the nurse’s voice dropped to a whisper, “Your father has commanded that no one else must ever know. OK?”
“Well,” said Juliet, pouting a little, “That’s just silly. I mean, what’s so special about boys? That’s what I’d like to know. I can do everything a boy can do. More in fact. Why do I have to pretend to be a boy? I think father’s an idiot.”
“Shhh!” The nurse flattened her finger against Juliet’s mouth. “Now just you stop saying such things. You’ll have us all exiled.” She straightened up. “There. You’ll do. Now, remember. None of this ‘I’m a girl’ nonsense. You’ll get used to it soon enough. You’re a boy. Understand?” Juliet stared at her.
“No.” She said, reasonably.
“Ok,” said the nurse in a ‘patient for ten seconds only’ sort of a voice. “It’s this way. Your father needs a boy to be king. He has got you. You are, therefore, a boy. So get used to it.” The nurse made to leave the room. She stopped at the door, a thought occurring to her. “At least you get to marry a princess,” she said before walking away, closing the door really quite firmly behind her.
Juliet sat down on the edge of her bed. A princess? Really? She wasn’t sure quite what to make of that. Surely she was the princess. Was that even allowed? She pondered a while and then, she left the room. After all, she couldn’t spend the next fifteen or so years sitting on her bed, could she?
Fifteen years did, in fact go by. Prince Julian grew into rather a handsome young man. At the same time, Princess Juliet grew into a very beautiful young woman. It was just… well, not many people knew about that bit. It was during the fifteenth year that the king decided that it was time for the prince to marry. Prince Julian had got rather used to the idea of marrying a princess. In fact, he was looking forward to it a great deal. But now it occurred to him that there might be… well… questions at some point. But what with one thing and another, he was swept along with the preparations and when he met his bride, he couldn’t bring himself to actually think too much about possible objections. She was everything he had always dreamed of. Beautiful, brainy, witty, wise… Prince Julian sighed. He was in love.
During the wedding reception, Prince Julian walked with his princess through the palace gardens. They were alone at last. The fragrance of roses wafted on the evening air. He turned to face his bride, who gazed adoringly down into his loving eyes. Prince Julian took a deep, rose scented breath.
“You are the most beautiful princess in the whole world,” he whispered.
“Not quite,” his bride murmured in reply. “I think that accolade should go to you.” She smiled, a slightly crooked smile. “And anyway...” Princess Juliet looked up into her bride’s face. It was alight with silent laughter, sparks of which ignited Juliet’s own.
“But wny?” She asked, laughing aloud now.
“Different kingdoms, different traditions,” the bride responded. “Besides, I like it… Do you mind?”
Juliet laughed some more and, reaching up, wrapped her arms around her bride’s neck and hugged her tightly. Then, she took his hand and led him gently back towards the palace.
“Come on princess,” she said. Let’s go home.”