In addition to the theme park Meridas and Mulans who roam Disneyland and Disney World, various companies hire out princesses for birthday parties and other children's events. So do those paid princesses get treated like royalty? Or does donning the dress and tiara make you feel more ready to play Ursula than Ariel?
AssassinPrincess, a poster on the Something Awful forums, has been working as a party princess and decided to share her secret life beneath the crown. As a bonus, AssassinPrincess is a comic book artist, and has some lovely teeth-clenching scenes to accompany her descriptions of professional princessing. She's an off-brand princess, which is to say that she's not employed by Disney, but the touch of Disney permeates everything about her job. For the most part, she seems to enjoy the gig, especially seeing how fascinated kids are by celebrity princesses, but some of the more amusing bits come from the extensive princess rules, meant to preserve the magical perfect girl illusion:
We do not say NO to children, or ask or order them to do things, even in games. Instead we say, "Can you...", as in "Can you all line up for the next game?" or "Can you put your hands on your head for this part of the song?" or "Can you sit there while we get the pizza cut?" We do not ask for water, ask to use the bathroom or ask for tissues or things from the parents. We don't eat or drink while driving to and from parties, in case we spill on the dress. No nail polish unless it's pink or clear-coat, and has no chips or cracks. No earrings unless they match the dress.
We must not be seen arriving, getting in or out of a car. Distractions can and will be deployed, like princess smoke bombs, to avoid ruining the illusion of our "carriage" that supposedly picks us up. When I was in a car accident on the way to a party (that thankfully had another princess booked too, so the kids' day wasn't totally ruined), my boss told the parent that Cinderella's carriage horse threw a shoe.
And yes, we must be in character 100% OF THE TIME. Even to the parents. If we call to get directions from them, we will say, "Hi, this is Cinderella! I want to let you know I'm almost to your party, but I'm having trouble finding..." We are in character to the point of pretending not to always understand stuff that doesn't exist in our world, like TVs and phones. Even if we bring our own stereos and CDs for party/game music. Kids usually don't notice this. We park our cars down the street and out of sight and always approach/leave the house on foot.
You'll have to read the whole thread, which includes some questions and answers, to get the full effect, but with the rules (including air conditioning in the homes so the princess don't sweat to death) and the anthropological explorations of families who hire party princesses (there's a wide socioeconomic range) it's fascinating to peek behind the ball gown and see how these parties look from the princess's perspective.