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HOLLY WAINWRIGHT: Well, we can finally put the whole 'princess' fantasy to bed.

This post deals with suicide and might be triggering for some readers.

It was less than three years ago. 

May 19, 2018. Less than three years ago, but another time altogether. 

In a state of collective amnesia about the pretty s**tty fates that awaited most of the women who pulled on a vintage tiara and an improbably big dress to marry a prince, we all lost our minds about Meghan Markle marrying Prince Harry. 

Watch: Meghan and Harry from birth to now. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

It seems almost quaint, when you consider what has happened since, that the sunny Spring day in Windsor was considered something of a jolly morale-lifter for the British people. They were mired in a stinking Brexit stalemate. Trump was still A Thing. Sporadic, lone-wolf terrorist attacks stalked their major cities. 

A great big wedding was just what everyone needed to buck right up. Bunting on streetlamps, commemorative tea-towels, ridiculous hats. A happy event, indeed. 

"The wedding was great, wasn't it?" We all said to each other afterwards, as if it was the season opener of the last Game Of Thrones (actually, maybe it was). We critiqued the guest-list, the soundtrack, the performers, the costumes. "Loved what they did with it. Better than we thought," we said. 

And Meghan Markle herself. What a breath of fresh air. A real person, with a past, a job, a life. Exactly what this fusty old royal family needs. Wills and Kate and Harry and Megs. Talking about mental health. Talking about race. Wearing clothes from shops we'd heard of. This was more like it. 

Well, we really overestimated almost everyone, didn't we? 

It's fittingly 2021 that the reality of what followed that optimistic day was a garbage fire of racism, bullying and denial. 

As every single person in the world right now knows (because, let's face it, there aren't that many people who didn't watch Meghan and Harry showing Oprah Winfrey around Archie's Chick-Inn on Monday night), that fairytale was already a horror show before Meghan stepped foot outside her golden coach. 

But if there's something positive to come from the revelations that the royal family and the "institution" they head up have learned precisely nothing in the last 40 years, perhaps it's this. 

We can finally put the whole "princess" fantasy to bed. 

Can't we? Can't we stop calling little girls that? Can we stop with the 'Daddy's Little Princess' bedazzled tees? And the fairytales that end with the wedding that looks just like the ones we know end in tears? Can we silence the collective gasp of envy and admiration for a woman who "snares" herself a prince, whether at the Slip Inn in Sydney during the 2000 Olympics or at a blind date in Soho after an ill-advised drink with Piers Morgan


Isn't it time we stop suggesting that a smart woman marrying a member of a royal family is good news?

Listen to Holly on Mamamia Out Loud, Mamamia’s podcast with what women are talking about this week. Post continues below.

We didn't learn that lesson after Princess Diana, even when her "fairytale" ended with her adolescent sons being forced to walk behind her coffin at a funeral beamed around the world into millions of strangers' homes. 

We didn't learn it after Fergie - Sarah Ferguson, not the Black Eyed Pea - was taunted as the 'Duchess Of Pork' because she was never 'princess thin', or when she was ridiculed and humiliated repeatedly for daring to try to make a living after divorcing a Prince of most questionable character (Prince Andrew, enough said). 

We didn't learn it when it took Kate almost eight years to say any words out loud in public after marrying Prince William. 

Or when, leaping across to Europe, Prince Albert of Monaco's bride Charlene tried to flee the country (twice) before she married him. Which she finally did, in tears. 

And speaking of trying to flee the country, a then-suicidal Meghan Markle couldn't have done that if she tried. 

In one of the many jaw-dropping moments of Oprah's interview, she said: "When I joined that family, that was the last time, until we came here, that I saw my passport, my driver's licence, my keys. All that gets turned over."

No KEYS, people. No autonomy over even your own front door.

The princess fantasy idolises a beautiful, coddled, voiceless woman. 

A woman chosen by the most powerful of men to sit at his side. Once there she must not be too opinionated. She must not complain. She must not question. She must produce heirs. She must not gain weight. She must be accessible, but never "common". She should wear beautiful clothes but not spend any money on them. She may not get sad. She may not ask for help. 

Is that what any of us want for our daughters? A prison with diamond-flecked bars? 

On that day less than three years ago, my wedding-watching companion was looking only at Meghan's mother, Doria Ragland, as she sat, glowing, alone on her family aisle.  

"She must not be able to believe her luck," my colleague said. "Imagine coming from raising your kids as a single mum to this. She must be so proud." 

Or so terrified. I like to think that Doria - a clever woman who's been a social worker and a business owner - was probably not thinking 'This is everything I could have dreamed of for my little girl'.

I like to think she was thinking, 'my daughter's too good for these idiots'. And she was right. 

Our daughters can do a hell of a lot better than "Princess". 

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

Feature Image: Getty