Adam Ant wrote this song with his guitarist, Marco Pirroni, who Ant credits with giving his music a commercial appeal. The group's previous single, "Stand and Deliver," was a #1 UK hit, and when "Prince Charming" followed it to the top of the charts, Adam & The Ants were the hottest act in England. Their tribal sound, based on the Burundi beats from Africa, was the basis for what they called "Antmusic for Sexpeople." Legions of fans bought into the warrior mentality, joining forces to rebel against authority and conformity. This song was a rallying cry, letting the youth of England know that "ridicule is nothing to be scared of." The message of the song is Prince Charming doesn't have to be a tall, handsome fellow in royal garb.
Adam & The Ants had little success in America until MTV picked up steam in the early '80s. Much of their success was a result of their charismatic lead singer and striking visuals. There were plenty of outlets to show videos around Europe, and the "Prince Charming" clip was wildly popular. The designs were inspired by the French Revolution, and Adam Ant's look was based on a French dandy of that era, strutting for attention among the masses. Ant was a student of graphic art and felt that visuals were a huge part of his presentation. He came up with this theme after researching historic fashions in the London library.
The video uses a Cinderella theme, with Adam Ant getting a visit from a fairy godmother so he can attend a royal ball. This could be seen as a metaphor for his life, as he went from a cult figure to superstar after transforming himself with a new image.
The fairy in the video was played by Diana Dors, who was a British starlet popular in the '50s and '60s. Ant made a personal appeal to Dors, who in accepting his offer, became the first film star to appear in a music video. Dors died in 1984 at age 52.
Adam Ant said about the inspiration for this song: "I was very interested in going back. I'd been reading the early Brothers Grimm fairytales which had always fascinated me. 'Prince Charming' is based on Beau Brummel, the British dandy leader of fashion in the 18th century. That and the French revolution when fashion for men were just exceedingly outrageous and everything was exaggerated and I felt that the early Eighties scene could certainly do with that."
Adam was accused of stealing the tune from Rolf Harris' "War Canoe." Ant said: "'War Canoe' is a traditional song but I'd never heard Rolf's version. I've got a large collection of ethnic music. We spoke to Rolf about it and we came to an amicable arrangement and I think we were both satisfied with the fact that we derived the idea from an original source." (Source of above two quotes 1000 UK #1 Hits by Jon Kutner and Spencer Leigh)
Zabadak from London, EnglandThis song, and the accompanying dance routine, were revived in the UK in the '90s for an advertisement about the Pimm's No. 1 drink. A 7-inch copy of the single can briefly be seen.