Princess Of China


‘Princess Of China’ single artwork

Princess of China is a track included on the fifth album Mylo Xyloto, released on 24th October, 2011.
It was released in 2012 as the fifth single of Mylo Xyloto.


  • 7 Lyrics

First introduction

On 12th January 2010 Coldplay’s Chris Martin told NME [1] that the band are striving to write their “masterpiece”, with the follow-up to 2008’s ‘Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends’.

Chris, speaking in the new issue of NME, on UK newsstands (January 12), spoke about new songs including Princess Of China and Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall, before admitting that he thinks the band can better their previous albums with the new effort. “We still don’t think we’ve delivered our masterpiece, so we’re still trying to do it,” Martin said. “As long as we feel like that and we’re hungry… that’s all that matters.”

The band have again been working with Brian Eno and Marcus Dravs on the album. “We were with Brian Eno for a long period just messing around,” the singer said. “Now we’re with Marcus, trying to turn that into something cohesive and under seven hours long. The worst mistake we could make, when we’re the most Marmite-y of bands, would be to make a super-long thing”.

Rihanna’s vocals appear on Princess Of China

Music Video

See: Princess Of China – Music Video

Rihanna vocals featured on Princess Of China

Coldplay revealed on 12th September 2011 that singer Rihanna’s vocals features on the track Princess Of China. The song features the singer’s vocals, and Chris Martin revealed it took him some time before he could pluck up the courage to ask her to appear on the track – all this came from an article via The Sun in the early hours of 12th September 2011 and then was confirmed via the official site just hours later. [2]

“She has such an amazing voice and it’s so different to mine,” Chris Martin told The Sun. [3] “When the vocal happened I thought ‘Wow, you sound different’ but I think that’s also because she was singing a different song to what we are used to hearing from her and it is written by a bloke from Devon.”

Chris Martin also recalled the moment when he asked the Bajan singer whether she would be up for the collaboration, admitting that he was initially nervous about approaching the star. “The album is designed as a whole piece. It has boy and girl lead characters and top of our list for the girl part was Rihanna… but it took a while to pluck up the courage to ask her,” he said. “We did a show in Las Vegas and I met her and said, ‘Do you think there’s any chance?’ I was very Hugh Grant-like and spluttering about it.”


In the article by Q Magazine published on 10th October 2011 entitled “First Impressions of… Coldplay’s Mylo Xyloto”[4] they wrote: “It would’ve been ridiculous to suggest in the giddy two-hour heyday of stool-rock that its latest pretenders would belining up the biggest r’n’b star on the planet for a duet on their record – but Coldplay are a long way from 2001, accordingly, Rihanna’s appearance on Princess Of China doesn’t jar like it would if she popped up on the chorus of Don’t Panic. They make her feel at home; Princess Of China is decorated with r’n’b flourishes from the syncopated march of the drums to the bulldozing synths. Jonny Buckland’s guitar takes a backseat – well, it’s Rihanna, you would wouldn’t you? – but this offers a tantalizing glimpse of where Coldplay could go next.”

First performance

Coldplay first performed Princess Of China at a friends and family gig at The Forum in Kentish Town, London on 31st May 2011. They then played it at the first summer festival date of 2011, at Rock im Park Festival, Nürnberg, Germany (3rd June 2011). It was then dropped from the setlist because, according to the Oracle: “It simply didn’t sound the same without Rihanna. It was written with her in mind.” [5]

The Oracle on Princess Of China

March 27, 2013 – submitted by Mandie, United States of America

Q. Dear Oracle,

You mentioned yesterday that Princess of China is in some way based on a Sigur Ros song, could you please tell me which one? Coldplay and Sigur Ros are my two favorite bands and I would love to know how one inspired the other!


The Oracle replies:

Chris has been a longtime fan of Sigur Ros. Princess of China is more than just inspired by Sigur Ros, it includes a sample from Takk.

December 10, 2012 – submitted by Jennifer, Australia

Q. I was wondering, did Rhianna help Coldplay write Princess of China or was she just selected to sing it as a duet with them? (meaning they wrote the song on their own)

Also, why Rhianna and not someone else such as Alicia Keys?

The Oracle replies:

Although Coldplay LOVE Alicia Keys and have performed with her, there was no doubt that Princess of China was meant for Rihanna from the very inception of the song. The band wrote it & recorded it before Rihanna’s vocals were added.

November 29, 2012 – submitted by Thomas, United Kingdom

Q. Hi Oracle did Rihanna only come to Paris with Coldplay. If she did why? Hope you can reply. Thomas.

The Oracle replies:

Rihanna travelled to Paris to perform Princess of China with the band because that is where the majority of concert footage for the Live 2012 DVD was being recorded. They performed it twice there and then again at the Paralympics Closing Ceremony a week later.

August 1, 2012 – submitted by Nicole, Canada

Q. Dearest Oracle,

I attended the concert on Monday night and it was AMAZING. Truly unforgettable.

I just had one question; I was excited to hear Princess of China and I was curious as to how they would fill the sections sung by Rihanna, but quite frankly I was disappointed that her section was filled by a recording. As much as I love Rihanna I would have liked that those parts be sung by one of the openers as they both featured female artists.

Has Coldplay ever considered involving another female artist in the event Rihanna wasn’t present?

Thanks for your time!


The Oracle replies:

The answer is rather like the one I gave on 26th July on a similar subject; no.

The song was written with Rihanna in mind, recorded with her and released featuring her so it wouldn’t feel quite right to have anyone else perform it.

It does seem like we’ve had a lot of talented ladies on tour with us this time but how would you pick between two?

Marina vs. Rita vs. Robyn vs. The Pierces etc. See what I mean? That would be a tricky decision even if they wanted to make it.

July 26, 2012 – submitted by Lauren, United Kingdom

Q. Who would Coldplay’s choice have been for Princess of China with if it was not Rihanna?

The Oracle replies:

If Rihanna hadn’t wanted to be involved there wouldn’t have been a second choice. It was her or nobody as they had her in mind when writing it.

May 3, 2012 – submitted by Matiss, Latvia

Q. Hey Oracle, I’ve just noticed at one of Coldplay last concerts that they played Princess of China with Rihanna in it. I was at Rock Im Park last year and there they played it too but without Rihanna. And I just wanna know why Chris doesn’t sing all of the song without Rihanna. The Rock Im Park version sounded really great!! Thank you so much!!

The Oracle replies:

Chris sang all parts at Rock Im Park because that was before the album had been released and there hadn’t been any announcements about it being a duet. It didn’t feel right so the song was dropped from the live set until now.

April 3, 2012 – submitted by Matt, Channel Islands

Q. Dear Oracle,

My wife and I are going to see Coldplay on the 1st of June. First big Stadium gig… very excited. Unfortunately can’t get to queue as early as we’d like as our flight doesn’t get in till midday 🙁

But… we both adore Princess of China, will Coldplay ever play it live? Obviously they will need a female vocalist…. I’ve heard Marina and the Diamonds are supporting…??

The Oracle replies:

Don’t worry, you’ll still have time to get a good spot.

Marina & the Diamonds opened for the band in Manchester and Emeli Sande supported on the dates before Christmas. Neither female vocalists took the lead in PoC so I doubt very much that it’s going to happen this Summer either.

December 19, 2011 – submitted by Susan, United States of America

Q. Just got home from the club and I heard what I thought was a Coldplay song. Did Coldplay cover any Rhianna songs recently? Possible it was just the house mix.

Thanks, the one who knows everything!

The Oracle replies:

Coldplay did cover a Rihanna song recently but that was for BBC Radio 1’s Live Lounge and was an acoustic version of We Found Love so it won’t have been that – unless it’s an unofficial remixed version that we know nothing about.

What you probably heard was a bootleg (that means totally unofficial) mix.

It was possibly Princess of China which is a Coldplay song on their new album, Mylo Xyloto, featuring Rihanna on vocals.

Without knowing though, it could have been any of their songs and hers in some kind of mash-up as those do the rounds also.

October 6, 2011 – submitted by Kawrem, Australia

Q. What is Coldplay deciding to do in regards to a live setting for their duet songs (Lhuna and Princess Of China)? I understand that they are waiting to play Princess of China until Rhianna’s voice can be heard on it, but does this mean that they’ll only ever play it if Rhianna is on the stage with them? These are two of my favorite Coldplay songs ever, so I am wondering if we (the fans) are going to get to hear either of these songs played live regularly, if at all?

Cheers from Australia!

The Oracle replies:

Lhuna is not likely to be played live now. It wasn’t actually on a Coldplay release and don’t think it ever has been performed live.

PoC may get an airing again once the album is out. Chris has shown he can tackle both vocal parts live so there’s no reason not to. I’m hoping it makes an appearance again after 24th October as I personally loved listening to that played live at the start of the festival dates.

October 4, 2011 – submitted by Logan, United States of America

Q. I’m really pumped for the new album and I was wondering why the band hasn’t played Princess of China in concert since Rock im Park?

The Oracle replies:

There wasn’t really much point people hearing it all summer not knowing that it is actually a duet. After trying it out live twice it felt right to leave it out of the set.

September 16, 2011 – submitted by Dave, United States of America

Q. Are Rihanna’s vocals a duet, a solo, or a part similar to Emily Bart-Smith on Rainy Day?The Oracle replies:

It’s not at all like the EBS backing vocals that are a subtle part of Rainy Day. This is a proper duet and honestly guys, it’s incredible.

September 12, 2011 – submitted by Kelly, United Kingdom

Q. Hey Oracle!

Just heard Paradise. ITS AMAZING!! Love it! But after, I saw news that Rihanna was going to be featured in Princess of China?? I heard the original via YouTube, and I LOVE IT AS IS. Is Rihanna going to be featured?

Thanks! Lots of fangirl love!


The Oracle replies:

I’ve had a lot of mail about this since the news broke. The first time I heard POC it was just an instrumental. The second time I heard it Chris & Rihanna’s vocals had been added. I have to say it sounds amazing.

I then heard the band perform it live. I liked it a lot, but not quite as much. For me it was wise to drop it from the set because it simply didn’t sound the same without Rihanna. It was written with her in mind so it makes perfect sense. When you hear it, you will see and hopefully agree.

August 30, 2011 – submitted by Christina, Cyprus

Q. Dear Oracle, Was the Rock am Ring performance the only one that include Princess of China?

The Oracle replies:

Coldplay actually performed Princess of China live at Rock im Park, not Rock am Ring. Its live debut was at the family & friends show back in May at London’s Forum so it’s only had two outings.

June 15, 2011 – submitted by Lotfi, Algeria

Q. Why coldplay has withdrew Princess of China of the setlist… It seems to be a great song.

The Oracle replies:

It IS a great song so don’t worry, that’s not the issue. Tweaking the set list always happens at the start of touring whether that be festivals or their own live shows. Violet Hill has been added for instance and the order of songs was changed too. It’s all very normal to see what feels right an works well.


Once upon a time somebody ran
Somebody ran away saying ‘fast as I can
I got to go, I got to go’
Once upon a time we fell apart
You’re holding in your hands the two halves of my heart
Oh oh oh, ohohohoh

Oh ohohohoh, ohohohohoh, ohohohoh, oh

Once upon a time we were burning bright
Now all we ever seem to do is fight
On and on, and on and on and on
Once upon a time on the same side
Once upon a time on the same side in the same game
And why’d you have to go
Had to go and throw water on my flame?

I could have been a princess, you’d be a king
Could have had a castle and worn a ring
But no o o o oh you let me go o o o oh
I could have been a princess, you’d be a king
Could have had a castle and worn a ring
But no o o o oh you let me go o o o oh
You stole my star
La, lalala lalalala, lalalalalalala, lalalalalalala,
You stole my star
La, lalala lalalala, lalalalalalala

‘Cos you really hurt me, no you really hurt me
‘Cos you really hurt me, no you really hurt me
‘Cos you really hurt me, no you really hurt me
‘Cos you really hurt me, no you really hurt me