The White Prince

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
"But, when you live in a castle, everything's done for you. All the time -- They dress you, they feed you, drive you, brush your teeth. I admit it was a charmed life, until the day my parents cut me off and I realized... I don't know how to do anything."

The White Prince is a character who has lived a life sheltered from the everyday trivialities which the lower classes have to contend with. In this way he is pure and untainted by the hardships of the outside world.

This results in a certain naivety and ignorance, despite the numerous tutors he's no doubt had all his life. When he is finally exposed to the outside world, it becomes apparent that the character is out of his depth. He doesn't realize how difficult and dangerous life outside his palace really is, and as a result he is a Horrible Judge of Character, easily duped by conmen and stolen from by thieves. Often he thinks he can talk his way out of confrontations, or throw money at any problem, and generally not recognizing, at least initially, that bad things could actually happen to him out in the real world. He will often be puzzled and even intrigued by the goings on of everyday life, resulting in Mundane Object Amazement. Sometimes the irony will be taken further as The White Prince proclaims himself to be an expert, having studied the lower class from textbooks, only to be proved very wrong. Often he has no idea how to do common, everyday activities and is thus rather helpless if he finds himself on his own. He may also be unaware of any suffering his people are really going through in his kingdom until he comes face to face with it.

These characters tend to fall into three main types: a plucky-type with child-like innocence and kindness, a silly and cowardly-type who is treated like a joke, and snobby and superior type that can be cruel. Most of the types have a good chance to mature into the honourable and melancholic Wise Prince or the practical and down-to-Earth Princely Young Man during their adventures, though the cowardly and snobbish types have just as much of a chance to turn their back on the real world and shut themselves back in their palace, if they can.

This trope can include any character, not just princes, who are sheltered in this way. See also Upper Class Twit, Spoiled Brat and Spoiled Sweet. Compare Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training.

Examples of The White Prince include:

Anime and Manga

  • Mendou from Urusei Yatsura and Kuno from Ranma 1/2 are the pompous and mean-spirited buffoon kind.
  • Most of the Ouran High School Host Club but especially Tamaki, the president of the club. He is the clownish charmer type (especially the "buffoon" part; his heart is usually in the right place, but his brain is another story), who is actually so fascinated by the middle-class customs of Haruhi that he plans activities and "excursions" to educate themselves about the lifestyles of the "commoners" to make Haruhi feel more comfortable—she doesn't.
    • Mori would be the composed type, mostly because of his protectiveness of Hani and keeping his mouth shut.
      • Kyouya would give him a run for his money. He's actually involved in his family business, so he understands how the world works. He doesn't consider ordinary people to be quaint or insignificant, but he does regard them as less important than successful people.
  • Prince Chagum from Seirei no Moribito is of the young and dignified sort. He gets used to life as a commoner and enjoys it, since the series very much avoids The Dung Ages and thinks Rousseau Was Right. Later he seems to develope to The Wise Prince.
  • Yuki of Fruits Basket has shades of the composed type, and is nicknamed "Prince Yuki" by the girls at his school. Of course, he's a very different person behind the facade he puts up for most of his classmates.
  • Deconstructed in Ashita no Nadja, where Nadja's love interest Francis Harcourt poses as your typical White Prince with a philanthropic edge, but deep down has severe self-esteem issues that become obvious once his idealism clashes with reality.
  • The Prince in Rune Soldier Louie - Though befitting the fantasy setting he was only naive and shocked when he came across mercenary behaviour and darker aspects of humanity. In other aspects he was quite educated and willing to give anything a try.
  • Touga in Gravion fits the composed variety, and forms an Odd Friendship with the largely mannerless Eiji often driven by his quiet curiosity about the "real world" (he's not a literal prince, but he did grow up in a castle ...).
  • Romeo Candorebanto Montague from Romeo X Juliet, in addition to being the Mad Dictator's Handsome Son. His best friend Benvolio di Frescobaldi also shows some White Prince traits, but once his family is stripped of its noble status, he adapts to peasant life very quickly and happily.
  • Prince Canute of Vinland Saga starts out as the innocent sheltered type, with a few minor subversion in that he is surprisingly well educated in peasant activities, then upgrades to the cool as sin, composed Badass version.
    • That's because the real-life Norse nobility differed from commoners mostly in that they usually ate better and called the shots at war. Otherwise they weren't that much different.
  • The F4 in all incarnations of Hana Yori Dango. Domyoji is of the arrogant meanie variety (at least initially) and Rui is the reserved type. Sojiroh and Akira are certainly both very charming, but seem much more aware of the lower classes, at least intellectually, than the other two.
  • Yuna Roma Seiran from Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny proves why letting one of these gain power can be a really, really, bad idea. Luckily eventually they Dropped A GOUF On Him.
  • In Naoko Takeuchi's work The Cherry Project, Tsuzuki fits this well. He's been trained as a professional figure skater since he was young, and was born to rich parents who really spoiled him. He had recently cut himself off because he felt that he wasn't really living life normally.
  • Ninzaburo Shiratori from Detective Conan is this and a rather competent policeman. While not a bad person, he can be kind of an Upper Class Twit when at his very worse, switching to a borderline Princely Young Man when at his best.
    • Also his former classmate Fumimaro Ayanokouji, who actually is from Royal Blood according to Satou.
    • Sonoko's soon-to-be brother-in-law, Yuzo Tomizawa, is of the naive kind. So were his brothers Tatsuji and Taichi. Until one of them killed their father
    • And predictably, both Ojous and White Princes are among either the victims or the culprits rather frequently.
  • In The Secret Agreement, Yuuichi regards Iori to be this because of his lack of worldliness, and while he doesn't like that Iori is getting married he outright states that the marriage will be a good thing for Iori since he doubts Iori could live a poor life with him.


  • Prince Henry from Ever After is bored by the idea of peasants until he meets Danielle, who actually is a peasant. He takes his servants for granted because they're servants, it's what they do.
  • Similar to Yuna Roma Seiran above, Commodus in Gladiator is also a proof against the idea of letting one White Prince become the ruler of a country.
  • The prince from Coming to America had never so much as gone to the bathroom by himself before he left home.


  • Prince Edward Tudor (later King Edward VI), in Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper.
  • Prince Jen from Lloyd Alexander's The Remarkable Journey of Prince Jen. Upon embarking on a pilgrimage to a mystical kingdom, he sniffs the air and asks his servant what that wonderful, invigorating smell is. His significantly more wordly-wise servant hazards a guess that the odors of rotten food, body odor, the occasional goat, and the distinct lack of cash comprise "The Essence of Misery."
  • Another Lloyd Alexander example, this time The Chronicles of Prydain introduces us to Prince Rhun, who is the "clownish buffoon" type, easy on the "charming." He irks Taran, especially for being engaged to Princess Eilonwy. Rhun gets better, and he dies a hero's death.
  • Prince Daren in The Heralds of Valdemar series starts off this way. He becomes more of The Wise Prince later in the series.
  • Prince Kerish in The Seven Citadels starts out this way, even putting the lives of his men in jeopardy due to his over-confidence. He grows out of it, though.
  • Prince Lir in The Last Unicorn. As he attempts to earn the attention of the Lady Amalthea (the unicorn in the form of a young woman) he shakes off his sheltered uselessness and becomes far more interesting.
  • Prince Edward, aka Ned, in Mickey Zucker Reichert's The Legend of Nightfall. He truly believes in the ideals of chivalry and noblesse oblige, he despises slavery, and he'll risk his neck to save others' lives. His idealism is only matched by his naivety...which is why his father the King takes the extreme step of secretly blackmailing (and spell-binding) a ruthless thief/assassin to be his squire (i.e., protect him) when the young royal is sent out to get some real world experience for a change. (The ultimate Fantasy Adventure Odd Couple Buddy Story Wunza Plot—and it totally works.)
  • Galad Damodred from The Wheel of Time borders between the "arrogant" and "reserved" varieties, with a very naïve view of the world, but is anything but a buffoon. Later shows signs of turning away from the path of the Knight Templar and shifting towards The Wise Prince.
  • Bertie from Jeeves and Wooster survives thanks to the efforts of Jeeves, who serves as valet, Parental Substitute and Living Emotional Crutch. When they get separated, cue the Rich in Dollars, Poor In Sense plot.

Live Action TV

  • Kamen Rider:
    • Sano Mitsuru from Kamen Rider Ryuki was thrown out and forced to get a day job. His rich father hoped it would build Mitsuru some character. It didn't.
    • Kamishiro Tsurugi from Kamen Rider Kabuto. If you're wondering which kind of White Prince he is, consider that his personal motto is, "I am the man who will replace God and slash with a sword". He eventually discovers that his family coffers are more empty than he had ever imagined (as in, completely) and resolves to restore his family wealth whilst learning about the joys of "the common people", becoming much more quirky and likeable in the process.
    • Sieg from Kamen Rider Den-O, an arrogant Imagin who claims that "the world revolves for [his] sake" and initially sees the DenLiner crew as his servants. Hana punches some sense into him, though, and he warms up to the others a lot quicker. Bonus points for his predominantly white color scheme.
  • Green Wing plays this to great comedic effect when Guy attempts to convince Mac he is a man of the people and invents a friendship with a janitor who happens to be very good friends with Mac.
  • Viserys Targaryen of Game of Thrones may not be completely helpless, but he is certainly arrogant, expecting everyone to march to his orders even while he's in exile. His father doesn't bother with people skills, and as a result he pisses off pretty much everyone he interacts with. Eventually he gets drunk and gravely offends Khal Drogo, paying for it with his life.
    • Joffrey Baratheon gives this impression, but since we haven't seen him outside the sheltered life of a prince we can't be entirely sure (yet). Still, he's an excellent demonstration of the bad things that can happen when the White Prince is crowned King; even his mother can't control him now.

Video Games

  • Prince Enrique of Skies of Arcadia, while living a sheltered life, is the highly intelligent, reserved type of prince and completely subverts the "naive, pompous idiot" part of the trope. He ultimately leaves his homeland with the pirates in hopes of trying to prove his mother's plans of conquest wrong. He later tries to return to Valua to personally convince Empress Teodora to protect her people, which appears naive on the surface, but when she refuses, he actually attempts to threaten her life when she won't see reason. He apparently was more than prepared for her to refuse him. Note that despite not being a naive idiot, the other air pirates tend to give him some light-hearted ribbing about his pampered life when he first joins up.
  • Luke, the main character of Tales of the Abyss, starts out like this.
    • In Tales of Vesperia, Estelle is a White Princess. Technically she's an Ojou, but her personality is more in line with this trope.
  • Eliwood from Fire Emblem was a bit like this in the beginning. He grows into The Wise Prince later on.
  • Prince Peasley of Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga comes off a bit like this at first glance-his arrogant mannerisms, cocky grin, and tendency to flick out his hair (which is so radiant it causes the entire screen to flash white) suggest a pampered jerkoff without the time of day for a couple lowly plumbers...but he's genuinely concerned about his people, competent at what he does and aware of his limitations, and in general a pretty nice, if businesslike, guy.
  • In the short time the PC is around him, King Cailan from Dragon Age: Origins comes off as this, more clearly depending on dialogue. As a good example, if the City Elf tells Cailan he is from "One of your alienages, of course", Cailan actually grows excited nearly begging the PC to tell him what it's like there, stating his guards never let him near them, which seems to indicate quite a lack of knowledge and interest in 'commoner' ways.
    • Which can lead to a real awkward moment for the king where you proceed to bluntly state that your friends and family were raped and murdered by bigot nobles.
      • The actual statement is that YOU killed a Noble's Son (Vaughn) for raping your cousin (Shianni). Cailan is actually quite disturbed by somehting like that happening in the Alienage and it being kept from him, and vows to look into it when they return to Denerim... but we all know how that ended.
  • In Golden Sun: Dark Dawn, Prince Amiti introduces himself with a mystical statement... and promptly has to have it explained to him that he's a bastard (to be fair, he was raised under a cover story that he fully believed). However, he makes it his goal to see the world and become a wiser prince... which takes a while, since he also believes in Black and White Morality for a good chunk of the game.

Web Original

  • Phase, Ayla Goodkind of the Whateley Universe. Born into the richest family on earth, and used to having his own way all the time. When he turns into a mutant and gets kicked out of the family, he finds out he doesn't know how to do anything, including use a can opener or a microwave. He just about has a coronary seeing what a real grocery store is like.

Western Animation

  • Lampshaded in an episode of the animated The Legend of Zelda—the episode was actually titled "The White Knight," and featured a blond heroic prince in pristine white garments who charmed Zelda and her father and made Link look like a buffoon by comparison. When Zelda was stolen by one of Ganon's minions, the so-called hero wouldn't go to her aid because he didn't want to get his clothes dirty.
  • In The Lion King, Simba was surprised to learn that there was more to being king than getting your way all the time.
  • The Princess and the Frog's Prince Naveen, who provides the pithy quote at the top of this page. And yes, that means that the black princess marries a white prince after all.
  • While obviously not a prince, Mr. Pewtershmidt of Family Guy fit this perfectly when he lost all of his money and was forced to live with Peter. He became utterly useless, to the point that he literally couldn't figure out how to wipe his own ass. Slight variation in that he's not necessarily confused by how the lower class lives as much as he just wants nothing to do with it.

Real Life

  • Siddharta Gautama aka Buddha, as one of the kind, naive types, makes this Older Than Feudalism. He grew up in the palace sheltered from pretty much everything low and evil. When he first went into Real Life (which was after he had married and fathered a son), and saw the existence of poverty, disease and death, he was so shocked that he left palace, wife and son in the night to become an ascetic monk. For the exciting conclusion, see Buddhism.
    • This was apparently deliberate, as his father was given a prophecy that if he didn't experience suffering he would become a great king, while if he did he did he would become a (very poor) holy man. So his father tried to shelter him as much as he possibly could.
  • Emperor Hirohito (or better said Showa, after his era) of Japan, who asked his people to "endure the unendurable" while he never missed a meal in his long life.
  • Belgian singer Jacques Brel was this, coming from a very rich family in the banking business before he started his singing career.
  • Britain's King Charles I of The House of Stuart who was taught by his father James I that Kings were "little gods on earth".
    • Subverted by King Charles II of The House of Stuart who was raised for a large part of his early life in Scotland, hiding from the roundheads that had usurped his father. After their puritanical reign the people of England asked him to take back his father's throne and he swiftly restored a number of rights to the common man that Oliver Cromwell had revoked. He even literally saved Christmas after Cromwell made it punishable by death to celebrate.