Prince Charming is a fictional character that figures in many fairytales. He is not usually referred to as Prince Charming, of course. In a fairytale penned by French writer Madame d’Aulnoy in the 17th century, he was referred to as Le Roi Charmant, which translates to King Charming. D’aulnoy also calls him as just Charmant in another fairytale she wrote. But in actuality, Prince Charming type figures have appeared in literature written much earlier than d’Aulnoy’s work.
The appellation of Prince Charming has been commonly applied to male fictional characters but it is also used to describe actual men who are perceived to have all of the qualities that would make women fall hopelessly in love with them. A good example of this is in Oscar Wilde’s Portrait of Dorian Gray, written in 1890. In the story, a poor actress named Sybil referred to Dorian as Prince Charming. Of course, Wilde put a twist on the Prince Charming notion when Dorian eventually leaves Sybil and inevitably showing that he was no Prince Charming after all.
In recent memory, the Prince Charming concept became strengthened because of the Disney retellings of the classic fairtyales. Generations of children had grown up watching the classic Snow White animated movie with the dashing Prince Charming saving Snow White. The same holds true for Cinderella and the literally named Prince Charming. There is a common misconception that the hero in Sleeping Beauty is also named Prince Charming. But this is not true. The hero’s name is actually Philip.