October 11, 2021
View this email in your browser

On Being a Princess

(Spoiler alert: being a princess is not all it’s cracked up to be!)

Nearly every little girl dreams of being a princess, and there are very few daddies who don’t play along. Living in a castle, wooed by dragon-slaying charming princes, eating what you want when you want, and having sleepovers with all the other princesses-- what’s not to like?

Well, in fantasyland with indulgent parents, there’s much to like. But in the real world of a fifteenth century princess, things were not “way kewl”. In fact, even though her life was vastly better than that of the daughter of a serf or local tradesperson, there were some pretty significant downsides.

A princess may well have been the apple of the king’s eye, but she also had a very important role in life: building royal alliances through marriage. If Princess Miralda could be married off to Prince Gustavian, peace could more or less be assured between the respective royal houses, at least during their lifetimes, and so much the more if the offspring inherited the throne of a dual monarchy. And there damned well better be offspring, and at least one of them male!

You can see where this is going. The princess’s ideas about romance didn’t matter. It was simply her duty to marry the prince or the king selected by her father, no matter what, and usually sight unseen.

As a result, the princess would arrive in the foreign land (maybe or maybe not speaking the language) with no choice but to share the throne and the bed of a man she knew little about. He may have been handsome and charming and devoted to monogamy, but likely not. More often than not, the husband-in-waiting was old enough to be the girl’s father, but on occasion he was still a child. As to marital fidelity-- are you kidding?

Catherine of Aragon had been married off to Prince Arthur of England, when they were both fifteen. Twenty weeks later, Arthur died, and his father, Henry VII decided that the next brother, Prince Henry, then ten years of age, should marry the grieving widow. Prince Henry declined (princes apparently had more autonomy than princesses), and Catherine was kept around as a useful semi-prisoner. However, when Henry VII died, newly-crowned Henry VIII (now seventeen) declared that it had been his father’s dying wish that the young Henry marry Catherine so as to ensure peace with Spain, or at least absence of war. And you know the rest of the sad story. 

So the next time your princess is fantasizing about handsome princes and castles, feel free to play along while she’s little, but in the meantime, help her develop the self-reliance, skills and attitudes she’ll need to stand strong, because even in our modern world, life ain’t always fair for girls, even princesses.

Forward to a friend

Can I help you or your organization? Contact me at or at 613-862-3489. 

Friday Briefing Archives


Being a princess isn't all it's cracked up to be.

Princess Diana

He's not your prince charming if he doesn't make sure you know that you're his princess.

Demi Lovato

What I Do

I am an explainer, that is, I deconstruct complex concepts and re-tell them in a fashion that can be understood.

In particular, I explain the secrets of professional success-- things I wish I had known as a beginner lawyer in 1981, but which I had to learn by trial and error (and the occasional epiphany).

Simple yet profound, these secrets are really just specific applications of common-sense life lessons. They are the keys to true professional satisfaction and financial success.

Call me at 613-862-3489 or e-mail me at

© Norman Bowley 2021, all rights reserved.
Your privacy is important to me. I never rent, sell, share your email address – ever!

This e-mail is coming to your in-box because you subscribed. If it just shows up without permission, please scold it, delete it, and tell us. We support and do our absolute best not to offend the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL), more formally known as "An Act to promote the efficiency and adaptability of the Canadian economy by regulating certain activities that discourage reliance on electronic means of carrying out commercial activities, and to amend the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission Act, the Competition Act, the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act and the Telecommunications Act." If you tell us that we sent this e-mail to you in error, your name will be struck from our list in an instant, with our abject apologies.

You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.


This email was sent to <<Email Address>>
why did I get this?    unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences
Purposeful Communications · 239 Somerville Drive · Perth, Ontario K7H 3C6 · Canada

Email Marketing Powered by Mailchimp