Here's some thoughts I have that aren't ready -- or may never be ready -- to be worked into articles.
|Toadstool Forever's Userbox Tower|
First, Princess Toadstool. Or Peach, or Princess Peach. Those are the three names attested for the cute strawberry-blonde chick that Mario is usually saving. There are evidently a number of story-external factoids that explain why she is called what she is called, but I'm not interested in those. I'm looking for an explanation that works in the universe, because this discrepancy exists within the universe as well as without.
In the character's earliest appearances, she was Princess Toadstool or "Princess of the Mushroom Kingdom" (SMB/DH manual, 1985/1988). In Super Mario Bros. 3, she sends six well-wishing but rather formal letters to Mario, signing each one "Princess Toadstool." So she remained for the several years. In 1996, Super Mario 64 arrived in the US. During a brief animation, Mario receives a letter from the Princess. The tone in this one is much friendlier, and although she still signs it Princess Toadstool, she scrawls "Peach" underneath. This is the first appearance of the name in the English-speaking Marioverse. When she appeared in Paper Mario, she was "Princess Peach." Clearly, she is both Princess Toadstool and Princess Peach. Why did her preferences change from entirely in favor of Toadstool to entirely in favor of Peach?
First, we may suppose that "Peach" is her personal name. She uses it, without title, when writing a friendly letter to Mario. "Princess Peach" is merely a more formal style of her name. Oddly enough, the "new" name causes fewer problems than the "old."
We now turn to the problem of "Princess Toadstool." Since Peach is the woman's personal name, Toadstool is probably not. Fitting with royal tradition, it is not a a surname, either. (Is the heir apparent of the United Kingdom called Prince Charles Windsor? Of course not! So we must do away with this notion of Princess Peach Toadstool.) What else could it be? It could be a principality, duchy, etc. within the demesnes of the Mushroom King; in this case, Princess Toadstool would just be an elision of "Princess of Toadstool." But the Valiant Super Mario comics hint at an even more elegant solution.
In the Valiant comics, Mushroomites use the word "toadstool" for youth. Joyriding in a dune buggy, the King exclaims, "I haven't had this much fun since I was knee-high to a toadstool!" In the curious Mushroomite dialect of English, toadstool may also serve as an adjective, forming a compound diminutive, or connoting a parent-child relationship. In this case, a "Princess Toadstool" would be a "little princess," or "a princess of the royal blood." Given the former of those two cases, we may imagine there is a time when the little princess grows up, casts off her diminutive title, and debuts as a person in her own right. Such an occasion would be grand, worthy of a party with all the best society present. The debutante may even take an active role in the preparation of that party, to prove that she's capable of running a royal household. Wouldn't it be convenient if we had some evidence to go along with all this supposition? We do!
Remember that Super Mario 64 is when we first saw the name Peach on an invitation, scrawled under the formally-printed "Princess Toadstool." This invitation was to a party, one for which the Princess had baked a cake. And the party was going to be so big that camera-wielding Lakitus were permitted to follow Mario into the castle. What could possibly account for such a grand occasion but the coming-out of the Princess? Super Mario 64 is when the little toadstool became a peach.
On the other hand, I do really think Toadstool sounds better than Peach. I also think editors should not retcon Peach into articles about older games in which her name was inarguably Toadstool. Just provide a brief parenthetical aside at the first occurrence of her name, like this: "Bowser held Princess Toadstool (now known as Princess Peach) hostage." Too easy.