Lifestyle & Culture

A Fractured Fairy Tale

March 22, 2023

Tags: ,


By Grace Cooper

Recommended listening: Brave  by Sara Barielles

ANYONE UP for a romantic fairy tale? I don’t know about you but I could use a distraction from the “real world 2023.” War rages overseas. Raging fires or flooded coastlines, global warming is truly alarming. On the domestic front inflation may be affecting us all, but a rising tide of homelessness is reaching crisis proportions for others. And bullying—once expected only of ill-mannered hooligans on the sidelines of British soccer matches . . . or perhaps among mean girls in middle school—is now a widely tolerated international pastime. Everyone from suburban housewives to obsessed celebrity fans bully others online. Thanks to mainstream-media shock jocks, such as Tucker Carlson, legitimizing bullying, raging political opponents and their diehard supporters have a forum. And most distressing of all—our kids, no strangers to cyber-bullying, are increasingly succumbing to drug abuse and suicide. To hell with 2023, I say.

Distract me with a good story!

. . . Once upon a time in the far-off land of California, there lived a beautiful young girl with skin the color of honey and ebony eyes that matched her long black silky hair. She was loved. An only child, her mother and father grew apart, and when they divorced, the beauty was forced to travel twixt and between two homes. Alas, being a good-natured and imaginative girl, she did the best she could to cope with the loneliness of this situation by dreaming of one day finding romance and adventure, and some day creating the loving family unit family she truly craved.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the wide ocean, lived a handsome prince, born into vast wealth and privilege, but with a rather complicated family dynamic of his own. His mother was a young beauty who fell in love with a prince who someday would be king. All the kingdom celebrated this charmed union, but for one small complication—another woman had cast a love spell over the prince, rendering him helplessly smitten with her, rather than his blushing bride. Unable to break the spell, the beautiful princess was heartbroken, driven to the brink of madness. She longed to escape, but now, as a devoted mother, she feared she might lose her two young sons to the kingdom. What to do? Desperately alone, the princess reached out to others beyond the palace walls, looking for understanding. This infuriated the prince, who whined to his mother, the Queen. The Queen forced the princess to sign divorce papers, deliver her beloved first-born over to the bewitched prince and vacate the palace . . . with a pack of gossip-hungry paparazzi in full pursuit. Around the world the evil photographers, feeding off the misfortune of the beautiful princess, hunted her without mercy until one night their actions led to her untimely death.

The prince-who-would-be-king, still besotted with the other, was unable to offer his sons comfort—not even a hug—when he broke the devastating news to them that their beautiful mother was gone forever. The elder prince eventually grew to accept his fate, destined to follow in his father’s footsteps. He was an heir to the kingdom after all. He eventually married an attractive woman—a commoner, pretty-but-plain, smart like a fox, who knew “upon which side her bread was buttered” type of chameleon. She would blend into the background as the perfect accessory, perfect wife and mother, perfectly turned out. . . predictable and perfectly boring princess.

The younger son, however, as the “spare,” was a bit freer to roam the world. He set off on one adventure after another—a soldier, a pilot, a polo-playing playboy—he did it all with the ever-present paparazzi never far away.

Yet freedom and adventure and riches aside, the handsome youth longed for something else . . . something that had been stolen from him by a pack of hungry wolves. His mother had wrapped her boys in a warm blanket of love, but it was lost all too soon. Lonely, the young prince set off to find a love of his own to fill the empty spaces within.

Remember the plucky beauty from the land of California? By now she’d grown into something of a celebrity—hard work, lucky stars  and her natural talent for acting propelled her into the public eye—she was a celebrity with a heart of gold. Not content to blend into the background, she dazzled while devoting her spare time to helping others succeed as well. Outgoing, with a sense of adventure, she blogged her thoughts on food, travel, fashion, photography and beauty with her devoted readers. As luck would have it—not to mention social media hype among influencers, key-word optimization and data-driven visuals—before long the youngest prince was a fan of both her blog and television show. Through mutual friends, he arranged to meet her. One date led to another and soon they were deeply in love and planning their future.

As in all fairy tales and modern kingdoms, royal weddings are a big (formal) deal, steeped in ancient traditions. But our plucky beauty, true to her roots, opted for customs that reflected the diversity and inclusiveness that she valued so deeply. Unfortunately, her own father opted out of her big day—a bit of scandal nipping at his heels. And then there was her older stepsister blabbing to anyone who’d listen, spilling her thinly disguised jealousy-fueled stories about her younger, prettier half-sibling. But her mama remained true and loving, and even her soon-to-be father-in-law stepped up and walked the poor girl down that long aisle, in front of all those many hundreds of invited guests.

However, thousands of royal subjects lined the streets outside the church, cheering wildly for this union. And in the year that followed, all reacted with delight for this uncommon royal couple that promised to break with their past history of imperialism, racism and classism. Soon, in all the land—and many of their foreign colonies as well—the new royal couple was greeted with much enthusiastic fanfare and favorable publicity. Touched by this show of love and support, the new royals actually touched people back—outstretched hands were grasped, and warm hugs exchanged. In addition, these modern royals endorsed issues of social justice previously eschewed by past royal families. On one such magical tour, the announcement came that the happy couple was expecting a baby, completing the circle of love and family they both so desired.

It seemed as if this young prince had married well. But hold on. In all good fairy tales, as in much of real life, sooner or later, good meets evil, and that is what soon happened. Do you remember the evil-ish stepmother? Well, years before, in the wake of the death of the young prince’s mother, her romance with Papa Prince was not well received by the royal subjects. In fact, opinion polls showed her to be the most hated woman in all the land. But Papa Prince remained under her unbreakable spell, and despite the objections of his two sons, married her, and soon it was announced that she would eventually be queen. However, as soon as her royal ambitions were about to be realized, a strange thing occurred. The handsome prince and his bride began to sense an impending change in the wind of popular opinion. Gossip and insinuating inuendo began to follow them everywhere. Paparazzi and reporters began to publish unflattering stories, based on “leaked information” from “royal sources. ” More and more, with every passing day, their popularity declined as sheeples allowed the mass media to tell them what and how to think. Most of the unflattering criticism was directed at the plucky beauty, accusing her of being a social climber of the worst kind. There were public outcries for the modern equivalent of beheading.

Bewildered, our plucky beauty soldiered on as best she could in public, but in private she grew more and more despondent and withdrawn, fearful for her unborn child, and longing for a bit of peace and privacy. Her handsome prince was enraged to see his love wither under the harsh glare of merciless press coverage, helpless to staunch the flow of salacious gossip. In desperation, fueled by the fear that his own family was implicit in feeding his wife to the angry mob, he arranged to flee his homeland with his young family, to a place where all could be safe.

Publicly, Papa Prince was appalled and to appease the masses, promptly stripped his youngest son of all his royal titles, as well as his royal allowance. Older-brother prince and his chameleon wife were all too happy to advise the young couple not to let the gilded door hit him on his way out. And adding slander to insult, someone yet unnamed within royal circles mused unkindly about the skin color of their yet unborn child.

So away they went with noisy, ferocious packs of rabid paparazzi in full pursuit. The young prince remembered all too well from his mother’s fate what tragedy might befall his wife and newborn baby boy. Unfortunately, safety has always meant a secure home base and an extensive and well-trained security detail—all of which costs a small fortune.

And so the prince and his bride, now resettled in the land that champions capitalism and economic opportunity, did what any of their neighbors would do under similar circumstances—they sold their story to the highest bidder and became fabulously wealthy. (Updates to follow as this evolving fairytale continues to unfold . . .)

By now, unless you’ve been in a coma for a few years, you have read all the “unbiased accounts” of this famously dysfunctional royal family. This is where is where you vote for how this fairy tale ends, because life gives us choices unless you are a sheeple, in which case the 24/7 cable news channels will decide for you.

  1. Dysfunctional families are not my thing. I regard all public displays of emotions as tacky. I am too distracted or emotionally reserved to care about learning from the missteps of others. I stay in my own lane and restrict my attention to reading the business section only.
  2. I love a good love story . . . love conquers all. . . let everyone hug and make up. . .I see no evil and wish the young family well.
  3. I am momentarily tired of the Kardashians—I love a good slug royal fest, albeit one decked out in pomp and circumstance. I root for royal traditions and mottos — “never complain and never explain—just get on with it.” “Let them eat cake”. . . and so on. Why question anything that might lead to change – especially not ask myself why I endorse such an irrelevant institution with a sordid history? I love a good competitive fight between opposing teams and all the world —thanks to mass media—is now my colosseum.
  4. I relate with discomfort to human acts of cruelty, be it slavery, misogyny, genocide or bullying anyone who is relatively defenseless. I try to use discomfort as a self-assessment tool, with the goal of continuously realigning my moral compass.

And because every good fairy tale has a moral:

“What you hate in others is usually what you hate most in yourself. The people who drive you crazy do so because they reflect back at you the worst aspects of yourself that you have either tried to deny or overcome.” From The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson.


—Grace Cooper (a nom de plume), who pens Late Dates, takes a wry look at the British royals and their foibles. 

4 thoughts on “A Fractured Fairy Tale

  1. Grace says:

    Thanks so much Nancy. Glad you enjoyed my little romp!
    And Maggie, what part of my piece did you think was inaccurate? Global warming, Tucker tells lies, the British royals have a shameful history of brutal colonialism, or that sheeples believe everything that’s printed and published? PT Barnum, in his day, and Rupert Murdoch today, understand how to turn even marmite into solid gold….and that’s entertainment!

  2. Maggie Hall says:

    Oh, dear. What a fractured account. Like The Crown, loosely based on the truth, with a lot of truths ignored and those used adorned with literary license – i.e., tosh. Sadly, Grace Cooper has indulged in that sad mantra: don’t let the facts spoil a good story.

    –Maggie Hall, retired Fleet Street reporter

    1. Janet Kelly says:

      Hi, Maggie,
      I don’t much about the doings of the royals, but in Grace’s defense, the facts seem to depend on who’s telling the story.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *