With two royal weddings in 2011, many people wonder what a princess does all day. With Catherine Middleton's April 29 marriage to Prince William of Wales and Charlene Wittstock's union with Prince Albert II of Monaco on July 1, two middle-class young women will take on centuries-old duties that were modernized in part by their iconic, late mothers-in-law Diana Princess of Wales and American-born movie star Princess Grace.
"The job of princess is much more complex than it has been in the past," says Marilyn Braun, author of Marilyn's Royal Blog and host of an Internet radio show called " The Royal Report ," who describes the role of princess as "a wife, a mother, ambassador and a consort. Not particularly in that order. The main challenge of is not overshadowing the spouse."
Yvonne Strong, who runs The Royal Universe web site, agrees that "the main part of a princess's job is to support her husband and to support the monarch." To do this, a royal bride usually participates in ceremonial events, promotes her country abroad and adopts charitable causes.
Ceremonial duties range includee state dinners with visiting dignitaries, balcony appearances on national holidays and participating in the monarch's official birthday celebrations.
Princesses are also dispatched on foreign visits to encourage trade and cultural exchanges. In the first half of April 2011, the Dutch Crown Princess visited Germany , the future Spanish queen went to Israel and Jordan , and Prince William's stepmother Camilla Duchess of Cornwall toured Portugal, Spain and Morocco . The future Princess Charlene recently accompanied her fiancé to Ireland and Catherine's first royal tour went into planning mode two months before her wedding.
Today's princesses are also expected to promote charitable causes. Although princesses for generations have engaged in philanthropic activities, Princess Grace and Diana Princess of Wales helped bring this role to the forefront. Their charitable works continue, in part, through the Princess Grace Foundation and The Diana Princess of Wales Memorial Fund . In lieu of wedding gifts, Catherine and William asked people to contribute to a charitable fund that will aid a broad range of causes from supporting military families to helping inner city kids.
However, the one duty that a princess absolutely must fulfill is have children. Although this is less politically important than it used to be, the expectation is high enough that every loose-fitting dress will spark pregnancy rumors. So much speculation has dogged Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden since she married last summer that the Swedish palace was forced to announce that she was not pregnant .
Nevertheless, if Charlene and Catherine can weather the fishbowl existence of a princess, Strong believes they can have fulfilling lives. "A princess has a great opportunity to attract publicity to causes of interest to her and to use her position to make changes for the better in society."
In addition to "an automatic position on the global stage," Braun lists some other unique job benefits. "Never having to worry about the day-to-day realities, the stability, the luxury and the golden page in the history books are all perks."
- Crown Princess Victoria of Sweden
- Diana Princess of Wales