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Princess Peach: Political Mastermind?

Redditor DrunkRobot97 makes an interesting case for the reason why Princess Peach from the Mario series keeps getting kidnapped, and why she’s still in power in the Mushroom Kingdom. Even if you don’t pay too much attention to the Mario games, you still have to wonder how she manages to pull it off. I know it’s a bit long, but take a look at this brilliant theory and let us know what you think. I’ve posted the text of the theory here, but it’s worth going to the site to read the followup discussion.

At first glance at the Mario franchise, the Lady Peach seems to be a pretty big liability as far as the Mushroom Kingdom is concerned. Getting captured an uncountable number of times has given her a rather poor reputation to many people.


So why, with all the times she’s been kidnapped, does she still rule the place? To me, at least, it’s simple – she’s that good at running the place. She’s Bismarck in a dress, the Mushroom kingdom is mostly kept safe by a head-spinning maze of treaties and agreements with itself and its neighbors, and the only one who can juggle all the factions and interest groups involved is Peach.

Granted, not much of the 30-odd years of Mario games are dedicated to the politics of the Mushroom Kingdom, let alone Peach’s role within it, so we have treat it like dark matter, make basic conclusions based on the effects of her rule.

From what little I could tell of the Mushroom Kingdom, it must be an absolute nightmare to administer. I believe the Paper Mario series best showed the huge variety of ‘ethnicities’, for lack of a better term, present in the Mushroom Kingdom – Goombas, Koopas and Bomb-ombs are residents of the MK, along with Toads. Hell, Peach herself is human, a tiny minority in the demographics – but most games anyway show that it must cover a fairly large area: How else do you explain desert and tundra existing within the same domain? The MK also has a lot of challenges and threats (i.e. Bowser, more on him later) to face. It might be more accurate to say that the MK is an empire, a single political force that controls many different peoples. That inherently causes a bottomless pit of tensions and arguments between groups, as well as the challenge of serving all of them – how do you deliver healthcare to a Bomb-omb, for example?


With its constant fights with lizard Kings, sleeping gods, and even frickin’ aliens, and the day-to-day headaches with running a hegemony, how could a little airhead like Peach run things?

Considering the MK is still prosperous, mostly peaceful and the princess herself is universally beloved, she’s doing pretty well, I’d imagine.

“But there’s nothing to suggest she’s the real leader! What if she’s just a figurehead, perhaps it’s a constitutional monarchy with someone like Toadsworth as a Prime Minister?” Good point, one that’s helped by the country of origin of Nintendo, Japan, and the most famous kingdom in the real world, the United Kingdom, both being constitutional monarchies with Prime Ministers.


Here’s the counterargument: Why does Bowser keep on kidnapping her? I don’t buy into the idea that Bowser wants to marry her, he’s mostly only wanted that when he’s been mind-controlled by a greater force, but power seems to be his goal. He boasts a big military, and Bowsers Inside Story suggests he does have genuine popular support from his minions, but his holdings are not large enough to topple the MK while Peach is at the helm. The most obvious way to beat it is to cut off the head, Peach herself. Why does he not target any other part of the Kingdom? Because Peach could organise a response while she’s on home turf. Why not invade some other part of the world, like the Beanbean Kingdom or Sarasland? Peach likely has some interests in his new target, so would beat him down when he moves. The simple fact that he’s almost never targeted Mario just goes to show his list of priorities, that Peach is, in her own way, more dangerous to him than the guy who’s personally beat his ass time and time again.

Does this sound like a figurehead, or someone who makes lemonade of the sourest political lemons? If it wasn’t for the Princess, the MK would collapse under an invasion from Bowser. I’m also willing to bet that her weak appearance is intentional. She has on occasion displayed hidden depths, sometimes she’s even slightly mocking when it’s shown she has the advantage. Someone from another realm would try to cheat the ‘naive little royal’ with a bad deal, only to have her spin them around and get the most out of them she can, in exchange for only what they deserve.


So why does she keep getting captured, then? Surely the smallest level of security would make all the difference? To me, that forms the crux of her two biggest weaknesses: her nonexistent sense of self-preservation, and her overreliance on foreplanning. It has been shown numerous times that the weight of leadership takes a serious toll on even the most capable heads of state. Every time you see her, even if she’s drinking tea with Mario and co. or going go-karting, something in the back of her head is working out the details of the latest issue to land on her desk. She lives in a world of bureaucracy that she herself or her predecessors built up to keep order in the MK, and when something happens to break her out of that world, such as an attack by Bowser (who is able to muster the force needed to overrun a section of the peacetime MK army, to make the grab for Peach), she freezes with inaction, on-the-spot decision-making being out of her league.

That’s not to say she couldn’t be impulsive. When she sees someone else in peril, she could run off into danger faster than Mario (in the intro to 3D World, she’s the first to chase after Bowser). She’s also slow to realise when she herself is in danger. It’s not strictly canon, but when she lands on the Halberd in Smash Brawl, all guns blazing in the heat of battle, she takes a stroll along the deck. InSuper Mario Adventures, easily the best characterisation of Peach in the Mario canon, she threatens to blow up an entire castle, herself included, if the bad guys didn’t do what she wanted. When they point out that she would be killed too, she smiles, and tells them that ridding them from the Earth would be worth her death.


I’m not sure if this even qualifies as a theory, relying so much on data points that can’t be confirmed (FanHypothesis?), but I think it’s a lovely interpretation of the Princess; a genius who ties together a massive country with an even, skilled hand, but is also an unhinged force that wouldn’t let her own survival get in the way of her objectives when she’s backed into a corner.

[via Reddit | (All images (c) Nintendo)]

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