I was recently watching an old family favourite, The Slipper and The Rose, feeling full of the joys of men doing split leaps while wearing leggings and inordinate amounts of blusher, when suddenly it dawned on me how much the sappy protagonists and the inconceivable love story annoyed me. This Cinderella and Prince Charming piffle is probably responsible for at least 72% of my impossible relationship expectations and for my habit of leaving my shoes lying around the place. This drippy couple have nothing in common, they briefly chat for a bit at a poncy disco and suddenly we’re meant to buy the happily ever after? I’ve had dental examinations that stood more chance of resulting in a wedding than this tryst.
So, putting to one side the mighty morphing mice and four wheel drive pumpkins, let’s go along with this tale of a couple joined by a shoe-based game of hard-to-get; let’s imagine that they met, fell in love during a slow dance to Whitney Houston and have been reunited after Cinders pegged it (hopping in one non-shatter proof shoe, no less). Let’s imagine Prince Charming has swept her off to his castle and they married, supposedly, for ever more. Now it’s my turn!
At first things are great. Cinderella and Prince Charming are caught up in a heady whirl of romance and spend the first few weeks holed up in a hotel room in some stereotypically secluded honeymoon hideaway, surfacing only to let in servants with trays of stereotypical lobster and stereotypical Champagne. Cinders can’t believe her luck – not long ago she was unblocking her sisters’ U-bend wearing a pair of Marigolds and here she is, having her own pipes seen to by the hottest man to bear blue blood. Prince Charming is equally smitten and just glad to have a decent conversation with a really hot, down to earth girl who doesn’t just talk about polo ponies.
Eventually emerging from their haze of newlywed bliss, they return to their homeland to be greeted by the press, who can’t wait to get a scoop on this bizarre, heart-warming marriage of the girl from the gutter who snaffled the heart of a Prince. He, having been raised in the spotlight, can’t tolerate the press intrusion and wishes for a quiet life in the palace. Cinders on the other hand, is dazzled by the limelight and can’t resist the chance to tell her side of the story in a series of high price, low brow media exposés.
Having quickly acquired a taste for the public eye, Cinderella hires a publicist who scores her some tasty deals on chat shows, where she confronts her own stepmother and less aesthetically blessed siblings about their brazen attempts at domestic slavery. Off the back of this, she secures herself the role of Goodwill Ambassador for domestic abuse issues. Sadly, this position takes up a huge amount of her time and the Prince, while fully offering support to his new bride, gets lonely, turning more to his friends and to drink for comfort and is soon papped falling out of a notorious nightclub at 3am, surrounded by posh totty and without his wedding ring.
Caught up in her success as the latest media darling, Cinders accepts an offer to appear nude, save for a pumpkin, in Nuts magazine, which results in her losing her Goodwill Ambassador role and causes a huge rift between the Prince and his family, as he struggles to reconcile his loyalties. With all the turmoil at home, and ever more aware that he and Cinderella have little in common save for that fateful night at the royal disco, the Prince turns increasingly to his old friends at the polo/tennis/gun clubs and Cinders focuses her energies on launching a reasonably priced footwear range called Class Slippaz for Topshop, and making public appearances at nightclub and supermarket openings.
The Prince calls crisis talks with Cinderella, begging her to stay at home more and not spend every night flashing her gusset to the press outside the capital’s hot spots, but she finds his notion of family life and traditional country pursuits to be dull. She points out to Prince Charming that she’s too young to be shackled to some royal brats just yet and was always a career girl at heart, and he needs to loosen up a bit. In a crushing blow to what’s left of their marriage, Cinders signs a 5 book deal to release semi-autobiographical memoirs of her climb from scrubbing floors to gracing red carpets, with a tie-in fly-on-the-wall documentary that will follow her as she gets a boob job. The Prince, disillusioned with his wife, soon finds comfort in the bed of an old flame who, while not given to dramatic whirlwind romances and lost shoes, can hold a pretty decent conversation about polo ponies, knows which dinner fork to use and doesn’t get her norks out for the tabloids.
Prince Charming files for divorce, allowing Cinderella a fairly decent settlement and the two go their very separate ways; the Prince with his good lady companion and gun dogs, Cinderella with her entourage and flashbulbs. The last anyone saw of Cinderella, she was being chased by a pack of paparazzi into a tunnel in Paris. Oh.
Now that’s how fairy stories really end.