Prince Christopher wanders throughout the marketplace disguised as a peasant, enjoying his brief freedom from his royal responsibilities. When he sees a young woman nearly get run over by a royal carriage, he rushes over to help her. As they talk, they discover that they are both unsatisfied with their confining lives. Christopher is drawn to her honesty and integrity while the woman, Cinderella, is charmed by his sincere, direct nature. Unfortunately, their conversation is cut off when her stepmother scolds her for talking to a stranger and for not keeping up with them. Christopher reluctantly leaves, but tells Cinderella that he hopes to see her again.
Back at the palace, the prince tries to explain his sense of isolation to his loyal valet Lionel, who frantically rebukes him for his clandestine venture into the village despite Prince Christopher's insistence that he was perfectly safe. He then enters his parents' rooms where his mother, Queen Constantina, informs him that they're planning another little ball so that he can find a suitable bride among all the eligible women in the kingdom, much to his distaste. He wishes to be in love when he gets married, not select a woman like an apple at the market. His father, King Maximilian, understands, but his mother is adamant that it's time he find a bride, and there's no reason he can't do so at the ball. Exasperated that his mother hasn't heard a word he said, Prince Christopher leaves the room.
A day or so later, the ball preparations are underway and the prince is not happy about it. He confronts his mother and demands that the ball be canceled, but she says that it's too late; it's hard to stop a ball once it gets rolling. Lionel, who is helping to decorate the ballroom, uses his diplomatic skills to strike a compromise between the royal family. Prince Christopher will go to the ball, but if he can't find a bride there he will be allowed to find his true love in his own time in his own way without any interference from his parents. The queen reluctantly agrees, making her son so happy he gives her a kiss, his father a hug, and Lionel a grateful pat.
Later at the ball, Prince Christopher is bored beyond measure. Lionel dutifully delivers eligible maidens for him to dance with, but though the prince is trying to be as polite as he can he is clearly unmoved by any of them. Eventually, the stepsisters get their chance at him. Minerva first attempts to amaze him with her poetry, then forcefully tries to make him appreciate it. He frantically signals to Lionel to take Minerva away, who in turn signals the guards. Even so, Minerva does her best to cling to the prince before she is dragged away. Calliope's up next, and she laughs so hysterically at everything Prince Christopher says she snorts uncontrollably. She, too, is quickly taken away by Lionel, and like her sister, she does her best to cling to the prince before she is dragged away. Unnerved by these experiences, Prince Christopher speeds up the the rate of exchanging partners, meaning each new girl only has a few seconds dancing with the prince. He even absent-mindedly dances with Lionel before glancing up and catching sight of a beautiful young woman on the staircase.
Transfixed, the dance comes to a standstill as he gazes at her. As she glides down the steps, he walks to her as if he's dreaming. She curtsies deeply to him, but he gently lifts her chin up. Eyes only for one another, they begin to waltz, gradually filling the room with dancing once more. As they dance, the prince recognizes her from somewhere, but can't quite recall where. They whirl right out into the palace gardens where they can enjoy one another's company alone among the flowers and fountains.They eventually decide to rejoin the ball where they are soon joined by an intrigued King Maximilian and Queen Constantina. The King holds his son back as he visibly worries that his mother will somehow scare the young woman away. His fears are proven to be justified when she suddenly takes fright and runs outside. Prince Christopher immediately follows her into the gardens and apologizes for any embarrassment his parents have caused.
The pair wonder whether their mutual attraction could be love. Prince Christopher confesses that he feels he can truly be himself around her, not what people expect him to be. Just as they share their first kiss, however, the tower clock strikes midnight and the woman runs as fast as she can out of the palace. The prince tries to chase her, even knocking the Stepmother down in his haste, but he is slowed by the crowd to and is unable to catch her, left standing with only her shoe as a clue to her identity.
The heartbroken prince refuses to eat or rest until he finds the girl who has charmed him so, even if it means having every single eligible girl in the kingdom try on the glass slipper until he finds the one whom it fits. Eventually, his quest takes him to the Stepmother's home. The stepsisters and even their mother try on the slipper, but Prince Christopher is absolutely certain none of them are his runaway love. They very conspicuously try to block the doors to the kitchens, but the prince forces them to give Lionel the key. The doors are unlocked to reveal nothing but an ordinary kitchen. Disheartened, the prince prepares to leave but is stopped by the Stepmother, who absolutely begs him to take one of her daughters as his bride as Lionel struggles to reclaim the glass slipper from the much-taller Calliope. Losing patience, Prince Christopher orders the chaos to stop and marches out the door where he spots Cinderella once again almost getting trampled by the royal coach. Recognizing her from their first meeting in the marketplace, he himself places the slipper on her foot which fits perfectly. Elated that they have found each other again, they share a kiss.
Waving to everyone they see, the prince and the new princess ride in a coach throughout the streets on their way to the palace, where they wed at the top of the ballroom stairs under the approving eye of King Maximilian, Queen Constantina, Lionel, and their joyful subjects.
- "I have no life of my own. Everything is decided for me. Where I go, what I do, and who I see."
- "Look, all I'm asking is for you to let me choose a bride for myself, in my own way. And I guess I have this silly idea that I want to be in love when I get married."
- "Don't you think [the ball] is a little medieval? Everyone is circling around me as if I was some prized bull they're trying to rope in."
- "I will find her. I've got to."
- "All my life I've been searching for something. And I've finally found it. In her."