In the pre-dawn darkness, as the driver takes our luggage to the minicab outside our house, I crouch by my four-year-old to ask if she is looking forward to our holiday. I hope that Bay might be excited about the plane, the water slides or fossicking for shells, but her answer is: “Did you pack my Elsa and Anna pyjamas, Mamma?”
It wasn't ever thus. Before Frozen, my daughter only ever wore her elder brother's clothes, wouldn't brush her hair and went by the name she was christened with. Since being locked in the film's icy embrace, or “After Frozen”, she has taken to gardening, eating dinner and walking the dog while wearing a ball gown, insisting on having her hair laboriously twisted into a braid “like the Snow Queen's” every day, and introduces herself as Elsa.
I never thought I would say this but my daughter is a little princess. Really. She has the certificate to prove it, handed over by her Fairy Godmother in Training at a ceremony recently. But more on that soon.
Bay goes about her ambassadorial role for the Kingdom of Arendelle with zeal. At the airport, a man opposite us in the gate lounge is reading a newspaper. “Look,” Bay shouts, pointing. An article proclaims that there is to be a sequel: Frozen 2. She starts babbling and preaching evangelically. Behold, it is the Second Coming.
The official transformation into Her Royal Highness took place recently at Harrods. We were in the Disney section, where Bay had become attached to a Frozen-themed backpack, when a gadget we had been given earlier began to vibrate, flash and speak in the voice of Cinderella's Fairy Godmother: “It's time, dear. Now for the magic words.” My daughter drops the backpack and skips to meet Debi, her own Fairy Godmother in Training, to join the Frozen Snow Queen Experience.
“Hello, and what are we doing today?” asks her FGIT at the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique. “Turning you into a frog?” Bay shakes her head. “A snake?” Another shake. “Well, what, then?” The response comes in an unladylike screech: “Queen Elsa!” Into the castle she bolts.
For the ensuing hour, Bay uses the words “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo” to speak to Cinderella's Fairy Godmother in a giant mirror, open palace doors that cheeky Tinkerbell locked, turn a smelly cheese sandwich into a gown, gloves and sparkly shoes, and a stinky pumpkin into a golden carriage, and make a tiara “fall from the sky”. She then sits at a dressing table with her back to the mirror, surrounded by pink sofas, golden crowns, chandeliers, bluebirds, glitter and gemstones, as speakers pump out one Disney theme tune after another. She is primped and painted, while she plays a game of Guess the Princess.
Frozen: The Princess Diary
Debi's specialist subject on Mastermind would be princesses. Her knowledge is prodigious and a little bit frightening. Bay's not so much. She answers “Cinderella” to every question, with doubt in her voice and a screwed-up look on her face, belatedly scoring a point when asked: “Which Disney princess does lots of housework and has two ugly step-sisters who are always telling her to do more washing up?”
Then, a wand is waved over Bay's head, Debi says, “Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo, may all your princess dreams come true,” and spins her around for the big reveal. If the look on Bay's face is anything to go by, the magic has worked despite her wicked mother in the wings whispering incantations about physicists, pilots, plumbers and politicians, anything to aspire to other than princess. She takes an oath to “uphold the true meaning of being a princess”, and is handed a bag full of dolls, an Olaf toy and make-up. Having convinced me to buy the backpack, she heads off looking like a sparkly blue tortoise.
Hours later, she is papped on the red carpet (actually blue) at the premiere of 'Frozen Sing-Along' at the Royal Albert Hall. She poses with reindeer and claps with delight as the “real Queen Elsa and Princess Anna” go up on stage.
As sparkly faux snow falls from the ceiling and the film unfolds, I begin to feel there is a good deal to be grateful to Frozen for. Humanity owes an incalculable debt to the designers of the animated costumes. The globe could have been trapped in an eternal pink tundra had they chosen a different palette. And thanks to the film, children everywhere have learnt: to scoff at the idea of love at first sight; that a princess doesn't have to move in with her one true love within 60 seconds of meeting him; that the handsome prince doesn't always get the girl; that princesses are quite capable of rescuing themselves and each other; and that marriage is not a prerequisite for a happy ending. Oh, and then there's that spectacular right jab.
With the film nearing an end, I tell Bay that we need to leave. She looks crestfallen but then barters: “Can we at least stay until Princess Anna punches Prince Hans in the face?” That's my girl, I say, clapping and cheering with the crowd at the villain's comeuppance before we run for the exit. Outside, we hurry through the puddles and drizzle along Kensington Road. “A bus?” Her Royal Highness asks, incredulously. “What about a taxi?” Good grief, I think, ushering her on to a No 9 bus back to reality. Or so I hope.
The conductor greets us with a wink: “Don't worry, we won't take off until the little princess is safely in her seat.” Bay smiles graciously and arranges the cape of her dress around herself as she sits down. And, with that, her red double-decker chariot sweeps off.
Experiences at the Disney Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique at Harrods start from £50. The 'Frozen' Snow Queen package is £300; disneyboutiqueatharrods.com. 'Frozen' Sing-Along is on general releaseReuse content