It is established that I can be a stickler for historical/practical accuracy in fantasy literature. The basis for the rules of world structure and class are generally taken from history and I feel that a certain amount of rule-following adds a dash of authenticity. Albeit historical accuracy only holds only as much sway over fantasy literature as a particular author wants it to.
The latest transgression to have caught my notice is this—men in literature proposing to their ladylove who is a reigning monarch. Historically speaking, if a woman was the sole ruler of a country, it was actually her place to pop the question. (Don’t ask me “what if they were both reigning monarchs” because I don’t have any flipping idea.) Queen Victoria, for example, was the one to ask Prince Albert for his hand in marriage.
Granted most marriages were arranged, but if the woman was the country’s ruler, she still had final say. (Unless there was some complicated and political reason she had to say yes, but for the sake of this conversation, that doesn’t count.)
Unfortunately, this raises a while new problem. I have yet to read, watch, or hear of an instance where the woman proposes and I thought it was romantic. I’m sure there’s one out there, but let’s face it—the “aww” moments start when he gets down on one knee and asks her to spend the rest of her life with him. Always being the one expected to buy the ring and pop the question has got to be unfair to the guys somehow, but there it is.
So I suppose it is up to the author—do they want historical accuracy or to make the fangirls swoon?
Perhaps a way around it would be to have the love interest first ask the queen to marry him in private, away from the censuring eyes of courtiers and nobles, then have her ask him officially for the sake of decorum. That’s probably the best compromise.
Then again, I’m probably overthinking it. Even historical fiction frequently deviates from history for the sake of a better story, so I suppose I have no right to point the finger. Like I said, I feel historical tidbits in fantasy add a dash of authenticity, but in the end, it’s still up to the author.