Last Spring, American expat living in London Jerramy Fine had an idea. She would create Princess Prep, a weeklong Summer camp alternative in London ($3,005 per princess, flight not included) "for girls who want something a bit more elegant and a bit more intellectual." Little did she know, Prince William and Kate Middleton would announce their engagement six months later. "Needless to say," Jerramy told me, "my plans for a soft opening haven't worked out that well!"
An itinerary that includes learning all about privileged aristocrats could send some troubling messages, and practicing royal protocol like how to curtsy reminds me of finishing school. When I mentioned the camp could come off as retro, Jerramy retorted: "Personally, I think sitting around a campfire all Summer is a bit retro!" Here are five other things I learned from Jerramy:
- Princess Prep doesn't prepare girls to find prince charming. "Categorically, Princess Prep is not about preparing girls for royal marriage or encouraging them to seek out a prince. Princess Prep is about nourishing princess qualities that all little girls are born with. Being a true princess is about treating everyone with kindness and generosity, as well as believing passionately in yourself and your dreams. Princess qualities discussed include: philanthropy, selflessness, kindness, compassion, hard work, self-belief, dedication, duty, manners, grace, poise, inner beauty, and strength."
- There's a lot of sightseeing. "Manners is only a small portion of what we teach at Princess Prep. Most of the itinerary involves sightseeing in London! We visit Kensington Palace, Buckingham Palace, Hampton Court Palace, and the Crown Jewels; we go horse riding in Hyde Park, volunteer for a royal charity, and have a night out at the theatre."
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- It intends to be modern. "We spend extensive time studying royal history and the charity work of modern day princesses, as well as the redeeming qualities than we can be gleaned from our favorite Disney princesses. Princess Prep is a thoroughly modern camp, and we strongly believe in empowering little girls and giving them the confidence to go after their dreams.
- It values manners. "Manners are not about being superior to others, but about making those around you feel comfortable. Whether it’s dinner at a restaurant with grandparents or lunch at a friend’s house, simple etiquette skills give girls the confidence that they can handle any situation, and thus put themselves and those around them at ease. Manners aren’t some ancient thing that no one cares about anymore – they are actually a vital life skill. And it’s never too early to start!"
- Fictional and real-life princesses are given equal time. "On the fictional side of things, Ariel, Belle, and Giselle seem to be the all-time favorites. When we start exploring real princesses, I’m always heartbroken to discover that most girls don’t always recognize Princess Diana since she died before they were born. Still, as the week goes on and we learn more about their lives, Princess Diana, Kate Middleton, Princess Victoria of Sweden, Princess Mary of Denmark, and Princess Grace seem to be the most popular."
Does this make you want to embrace your inner princess, or do you think it's another example of worrisome princess culture?