Once upon a time in a magic forest… Prince Christopher enjoys a moment of solitude when the royal family’s advisor Sebastian summons him to his daily exercise: slaying dragons and giants. Chris is weary: since the death of his parents, the King and Queen, he is being prepared for the royal office, but he would much rather be a bookish private man. The delegation runs into beggar woman Marie, who is accompanied by Ella. Chris is immediately taken by her warmth. She likes him, too. Back at home, Ella hides in her favourite corner to dream of far-away adventures. Meanwhile, in the palace, Sebastian has a plan: Chris must get married. The right partner is to be chosen at a masked ball. Ella’s stepmother Madame prepares her two favourite daughters Charlotte and Gabrielle for the occasion. A young political activist with disarming idealism, Jean-Michel, urges Ella to confront the prince with the social injustice inflicted on the people by the crown. Ella, however, is not invited. Marie, who reveals herself as a fairy, comes to the rescue, with an invite and proper attire. At the ball, Ella goes unrecognised but attracts attention by being unusually kind. Chris is smitten but must learn from Ella that crimes are committed in his name. At midnight, Marie’s magic spell ends and Ella flees.
Chris instructs a search party to find Ella – without success. Hoping to lure her to the palace one more time, he announces another function: a banquet. Gabrielle has warmed to her sister and realises that Ella is the mystery woman the prince is looking for. She offers to lend her a dress, but Madame shatters their plan. Ella is distraught. Again, it is Marie who encourages her to use her imagination: and the magic spell begins anew. At the palace, Chris is overjoyed to see Ella, who has brought Jean-Michel in tow. The prince decides to finally take over governmental duties and calls a democratic election – to Sebastian’s great dismay. As the clock strikes midnight, Ella flees again, keen to hide her real identity as the spell expires. She does however leave a glass slipper for Chris to find. The next day, he launches an identity parade, with every woman in the kingdom having to try on the shoe. When Ella appears, he recognises her instantly. The couple is finally united. Even Madame apologises for her behaviour and is forgiven… and they lived happily ever after.