Opinion: Imagine Waking Up and Being Told You Are Really a Princess

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty/Reuters
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty/Reuters

The British royal family has been having a rough time since… well, probably since sometime around the 1600s, but the last couple of years in particular.

King Charles and Kate Middleton are both undergoing treatment for cancer, which has left many of the royal duties for the king’s sister, Princess Anne. So the timing was not great when, a few weeks ago, the Princess Royal herself was injured by one of her own horses.

“What, was she kicked in the head by a horse?” sounds like a British euphemism for committing a devastating social blunder, like mispronouncing Cholmondeley (it’s pronounced “I am SO SORRY for being American”) or wearing a large hat to what is obviously a small-hat event. But in this case it also appears to be true.

The Princess Royal, 73, was hospitalized with a concussion and it now seems that she may have emerged from the whole ordeal with some memory loss and unable to remember the incident.

Princess Anne is widely beloved and known as a straight shooter and hard worker. But while I wish her and the entire royal family the best during her recovery, I can’t help but imagine what it’s like to wake up with a bout of amnesia and receive the news that you are a princess in the year 2024. I suspect it would go something like this:

PRINCESS: Doctor, where am I? What happened to me?

DOCTOR: Well, you either got kicked in the head by a horse or head butted by one. Your family has been very vague about the whole deal, which is sort of their thing. But the point is, you are concussed.

PRINCESS: Ok, not great. One more small question. Who am I?

DOCTOR: I was afraid you would ask that. I have some bad news.

PRINCESS: Oh no! Am I dying?

DOCTOR: No, it’s worse. You’re a princess.

PRINCESS: A princess? You mean that lady that Mario keeps showing up at the wrong castle to rescue?

DOCTOR: No. Also it’s weird that you know that and not your own name.

PRINCESS: I just think that after the third castle or so, he’d call ahead. Fine. Tell me what a princess is.

DOCTOR: Well your mother was the Queen. And now your brother is the King.

PRINCESS: That sounds fantastic. What part of the country do I get to rule over?

DOCTOR: That’s the thing. You’re sort of… symbolic.

PRINCESS: What does that mean?

DOCTOR: Well your brother is the King and he’s got no real governing power. So you have whatever is even less than that. You will go to a lot of state funerals and garden parties.

PRINCESS: Got it. So I can pretty much be ignored by the press and do whatever I want?

DOCTOR: Oh no. That’s the thing. Even though you have no real say in anything, the media will critique you and your family relentlessly. They will examine every word you say and every outfit you wear for the rest of your life.

PRINCESS: So I have no real power….

DOCTOR: Correct

PRINCESS: ...but also the press will follow me around and people will judge literally everything I do forever.

DOCTOR: Also correct.

PRINCESS: Can I, like, run to the market in my pajamas to buy cold medicine without it making the front page of a major newspaper?

DOCTOR: You cannot.

PRINCESS: And will my entire family be tormented by gossip columns every time they date someone new or cut their bangs weird?

DOCTOR: They will.

PRINCESS: ...Is there the option of going back into a coma?

DOCTOR: You were never in a coma so, no. Besides, you’re very rich!

PRINCESS: I see. Didn’t you say that I ride horses?

DOCTOR: Oh yes! You’re very good. You even represented Britain in the 1976 Olympics.

Princess Anne on Goodwill at the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976

Princess Anne on Goodwill at the Montreal Olympic Games in 1976.


PRINCESS: Great, can’t I do that then?

DOCTOR: Nope, I’m afraid you’re stuck with princess.

PRINCESS: But why would anyone ever want to do this?

DOCTOR: It’s a great question. You should call Meghan Markle and ask. Maybe do a podcast.


PRINCESS: One more question. Do I by any chance get to wear good hats?

DOCTOR: Yes you will get to wear very good hats, Your Highness.

Long royal sigh.

PRINCESS: Well, I suppose that is something.

The Princess Royal arriving ahead of the coronation ceremony of King Charles III and Queen Camilla at Westminster Abbey.

The Princess Royal arriving ahead of the coronation ceremony of King Charles III and Queen Camilla at Westminster Abbey.

Jacob King - PA Images

Jill Twiss won five Emmys as a writer for Last Week Tonight With John Oliver.

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