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In fiction, a lady-in-waiting's role isn't much more different in theory: she assists her Queen, Princess or Mistress in whatever she needs. The ones of lower origins will tend to carry maid-like duties like helping her with clothes or food or primping, while nobler ones will join her in courtly deals. The lady, on the other hand, can treat them as best friends, enemies / rivals, mere servants or anything else. Some may put such trust on their assistants that they may either ask them to be their spies, spread rumors, pass messages or even be Body Doubles.
In the West the ladies-in-waiting tended to be seen as companions or courtesans, while in the East they were closer to servants or slaves. Some may also double as The Mistress to one of the ladies's male relatives, especially the King (whether he is the lady's dad, husband, etc.)
- The picture above is from Diego de Velásquez's Las Meninas , which shows the Infanta (Spanish princess) and future Empress Consort of the Holy Roman Empire Margaret Theresa of Spain at age 5 with, among others, her ladies-in-waiting María Agustina Sarmiento de Sotomayor (the girl on her knees) and Isabel de Velasco (the girl doing a curtsy), alias the titular meninas.
Anime and Manga
- Rose of Versailles: There are many ladies-in-waiting featured in one way or another, since this series is right before the French Revolution: This also includes a major antagonist: Countess Martine Gabrielle de Polignac, Marie Antoinette's Poisonous Friend.
- Oscar's own lady in waiting is a peasant girl named Rosalie Lamorliere, whom she takes in as her companion. She's also the long-lost daughter of Madame de Polignac.
- Oscar's mother once was caught in the power struggles between then-Dauphine (Crown Princess) Marie Antoinette and Madame du Barry, with the latter trying to pressure her into becoming her LIW. Marie also offered the lady a spot as her companion, and logically Lady Jerjays chose her. As a bonus, Oscar got VERY ANGRY at Du Barry for trying to use her mom in her schemes.
- Cross Ange has Momoka, Princess Angelise/Ange's former handmaid. Momoka is so loyal to Ange that even after her lady is revealed to be a Norma, disinherited, and sent into exile at Arzenal, Momoka follows her there thanks to Ange using a Loophole Abuse. She even tries a Mutual Kill with Embryo and herself out of affection for Ange, and barely survives.
- The Twelve Kingdoms:
- The deaths of two ladies-in-waiting from the court of the Kingdom of Hou have very important consequences for the Realm as a whole. They were mother and daughter, and both worked as companions for the the cruel Queen and the not evil but VERY spoiled Princess. The Queen framed the mother for corruption and got her and her daughter executed for such a "crime," out of jealousy because the daughter was more talented than the Princess. This was the cherry on top of the royal family's already present sins that were driving Hou to ruin, causing Governor Gekkei to lead a revolution that finished with the royal couple and their kirin dead, and with Shoukei as a Sole Survivor who goes through quite the Break the Haughty.
- And later, a much Older and Wiser Shoukei and a peasant girl named Suzu Ooki become ladies-in-waiting to Youko/Sekishi, the Queen of Kei.
- In Saint Seiya Soul of Gold, an Asgardian woman named Lyfia starts as Princess Hilda's lady-in-waiting before she becomes The Protagonist of the series.
- In some Mobile Suit Gundam supplementary materials, Dozle Zabi's mistress Marlene Kahn (the older sister of Haman Kahn) sometimes was the aidé and companion of Dozle's actual wife, Princess Zenna.
- In Gundam 00, Princess Marina Ismail has Shirin Bakhtiar as this.
- One way to see Hys/Nanny from GoLion / Lion Voltron in regards to Princess Allura. Even when she's older and more smothering than the standard.
- In the USA-made last Voltron season, Queen Merla has some handmaids as well.
- In Anatolia Story, Yuri Ishtar's social circle includes some young ladies who are this to her: the twins and Ninja Maids Ryuhi and Shala, their elder sister Hadi, Princess Alexandra of the Arzawa lands, and a commoner girl named Ursula. The latter pulls an Heroic Sacrifice for Yuri's sake.
- In the 2019 remake of Aladdin, Princess Jasmine has a Canon Foreigner handmaid and best friend named Dalia. She has Ship Tease with none other than Genie. When the Genie's released and becomes a human, they get married.
- In the Sissi novels by several authors, Empress Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary (aka Sissi) has several noblewomen as her ladies-in-waiting. One of them is the Italian countess Paola di Bellegarde whom Sissi hooks up with the Count of Königsegg-Aulendorf in one of the books.
Myths and Religion
- William Shakespeare included maids, handmaids and Ladies in Waiting among his casts. Some examples are Portia's handmaid and best friend Nerissa from The Merchant of Venice, and Iago's wife Emilia for the titular Othello's wife Desdemona.
- In one of the multiple endings of Princess Maker 2, the daughter of the game can work as the lady-in-waiting to the Queen. Technically speaking, however, she can sort-of unofficially play the role by sneaking into the palace and managing to talk to either the Royal Concubine or the Queen if she has the traits needed (Conversation/Speech for the first, Temperance/Personality for the second).
- Fire Emblem:
- In Mystery of the Emblem, the Black Magician Girl Linde becomes a mix of this, Number Two and The Apprentice to Princess Nyna. Her lady-in-liege trusts her to the point of handing her the Fire Emblem to give it to Marth.
- In Fire Emblem: the Binding Blade, the White Mage Ellen works as the lady-in-waiting of Rebellious Princess Guinevere of Bern. This is vital to the plot since, when both women are cornered by the Bernese military as Guinevere takes the Fire Emblem from her older brother King Zephiel, Ellen manages to escape from their grip and reaches for Roy's Badass Crew, properly bringing them into the plot...
- In Fire Emblem Fates, one can see the relationship between a Female Corrin and her Ninja Maids Felicia and Flora as this, with them even waking her up in the morning. (They do the same to a male Corrin, but still.)
- In The Arcana: A Mystic Romance, Countess Nadia Satrinava's "right hand" of sorts is her handmaid and confidant Portia. Both can be potential girlfriends for the Apprentice. And can fall in love with each other in some endings as well..
- In Tangled the series, Cassandra is supposed to fill this role regarding Rapunzel, as the daughter of a royal retainer tasked with keeping company to the local Princess.
- The Other Wiki has a list of women who have been this throughout history. Some of these are:
- France: the aforementioned Comtesse de Polignac, alongside Louise Marie of Savoy-Carignan aka Princess of Lamballe;
- Japan: The writers and rivals Murasaki Shikibu and Sei Shonagon, plus Masako Tozuka aka Lady Saigou (the mistress of Tokugawa Ieyasu), Lady Yoshiko Nakayama (lover of Emperor Hisahito / Koumei and birth mother of his succesor Mutsuhito / Meiji) and Lady Naruko Yanagihara (Emperor Meiji's lover and birth mother of his succesor Emperor Yoshihito/Taisho) among others;
- Austro-Hungarian Empire: the also aforementioned Paola di Bellegarde alongside Countess Wulff, Sofia Esterhàzy-Liechtenstein and Countess Caroline Lamberg, all of them companions to Empress Elisabeth aka Sissi;
- England: four of Henry VIII's six wives (Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, Catherine Howard and Catherine Parr);
- Korea: Lady and later Queen Consort Hui-bin Jang;
- Sweden: Christina Augusta von Fersen/Loewenheim;
- Portugal: Ines de Castro, who'd be the lover and pretty much wife in all but name to her lady's arranged husband (Prince, then King Pedro I of Portugal) until their affair's HORRIBLY messy end.