Princess Athalie stared into the mirror at her pretty reflection. Decked from head to toe in her shimmering, royal finery, she lacked only one thing – the crown. She sighed as she ran her finger over the gold tiara piece, glittering in the lamplight. Could she . . . ?
“Athalie, are you ready? They’ll be announcing us at the ball soon . . .”
Athalie’s father, the King, took one look at Athalie’s downcast face and strode across the dressing room. “What’s wrong, Princess?”
“I – I’m not quite ready.”
The King, handsome in his royal robes and dazzling crown, smiled. “You look beautiful. I think the crown will provide the finishing touch. Here, let me help you.” He reached for the crown, but Athalie backed away.
“I don’t think I want to wear it tonight.”
The King gently ran his finger under Athalie’s chin. He turned her head so he could look fully into her tear-filled eyes. “Why not?” he asked softly.
“No one else will be wearing a crown,” she whispered. “I’ll be the only one . . .”
“Because you are the only princess,” the King noted.
“Yes, but they treat me different. I’m not like them.”
“Do you want to be like them?”
“I – I’m not sure. It’s confusing . . . they don’t have to attend stuffy balls and meetings. They don’t have to watch what they say every moment lest someone make gossip out of it. They don’t have nearly the responsibilities . . .”
“Are they of a royal blood, Athalie?”
“Nooo . . .”
“Athalie, it is a privilege to have royal blood. Yes, there are responsibilities. But think of all the perks of being a part of the Kingdom. Do they have everything they need at their fingertips? Do they get to enjoy favor with high officials? Do they get to participate in all the great affairs of state?”
Athalie hung her head. “No, sir.”
The King put his arm around his daughter. “You, Athalie, are a part what many would only dream about. Many don’t even realize what they would be missing had they been born a royal heir. It’s a privilege – an honor. And though you have many responsibilities, you have all the backing of the Kingdom behind you.”
“But what about what they think?” Athalie protested. “Some times I see them sticking their noses up at me. Some times they whisper behind their hands – and I don’t have a clue what I’ve done! All I did was wear my crown!”
The King’s eyes sparkled with his smile. “Exactly! Your crown represents who you are. It identifies you as my daughter. They may not appreciate it because of jealousy or a lack of respect for the Kingdom. But that makes you no less valuable to your country or to the royal family. What they think is very insignificant to the value I have placed on you.”
“So what do I do?”
“Don’t be intimidated by who you are, Princess. You have far more influence than you realize. Yes, there will be people who despise you. But there are an equal, if not greater, amount of women – young and old – who look to you as their role model. You hold something of value that they long for.”
Athalie bit her lip as she gazed once again at the glittering crown atop her dresser. This time it didn’t look so intimidating. It was beautiful.
Gently the King lifted the crown and placed it atop Athalie’s head. “Wear your crown, Princess. Wear your crown.”