Disney princesses have become such an integral part of our childhoods since they were first introduced in popular media back in 1937. They might seem childish to some, but the beauty of these fairytales is that they allowed our imaginations to take flight. These Disney princess movies taught us the beauty of kindness and gentleness, and finding courage even when everything seems dark.
We have met many of them throughout the years, but how well do you know the original Disney princesses? What about the modern Disney princesses we have been introduced to in recent years? There’s quite a lot of them, so on this list, we’ll be ranking them and providing you with bits of fun Disney trivia you might not have known about these timeless characters.
Official Disney Princesses
All the Disney princesses fall into different categories. Here, we’ll be going through our list of Disney princesses who are part of the current official line up. How many official Disney princesses are there? The original had eight, but the most current one has 12 characters in total.
Who is the first Disney princess? That title belongs to none other than Snow White. The film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released back in 1937, and is one of the oldest Disney movies. How old is Snow White? At 14 years old, she is also the youngest among the princesses. We’re giving her top rank because despite her youth, she was able to overcome many of the challenges thrown her way. Whoever said the life of a Disney princess was easy? Snow White Prince may have given her true love’s kiss, but we like to think she deserves credit for her kind heart and resilience.
Moana is one of the newest Disney princesses on our list. In her story, she was chosen by the spirit of the Ocean to help restore the Heart of Te Fiti in order to save her island from life-killing darkness. Unlike Snow White, however, Moana did not have to wait for her prince or a true love to arrive in order to accomplish what she needs to do. In fact, she is one of the two official Disney princesses who does not have a love interest!
Our next princess is the first to have been based on a real person, albeit loosely. Pocahontas is a Powhatan Native American and is the only child of the Chief. She may not be one of the more historically accurate Disney princesses, but her story touches on what transpired when colonizers first appeared on Native American land, with more than a touch of romanticism to help make it more family and child-friendly. We’re giving her the third spot because Pocahontas teaches us that we are not too different from nature, and as such, we must learn to take care of each other.
Disney’s 2009 film, The Princess and the Frog, was groundbreaking many different ways. It featured the first African-American princess and the third one who was not born into royalty. Tiana is also the most modern of all the princesses on our list as her story was set in 1920s New Orleans. Much like Snow White, this princess movie was also based upon a Brothers Grimm fairytale, though one that has been reinterpreted by E.D. Barker. Tiana gets the fourth spot on our Disney princess list because even after getting turned into a frog, she fought hard to get her happily ever after.
Next, we have the protagonist of a tale as old as time: Belle. Among the Disney princesses on our list, she’s actually the only one with a confirmed country of origin. The film Beauty and the Beast is set in France during its historical events. According to the ages of Disney princesses, Belle is 17 years old and is of common birth. While this may be so, this didn’t stop her from learning as much as she can. Belle is one of the more realistic Disney princesses on our list and she reminds us that beauty isn’t just what’s on the outside. Above all, it’s a person’s heart that really matters.
From one classic Disney princess to another, our next “fair lady” is Cinderella. One interesting fact about her is that she’s the first Disney Princess to have siblings and also the first to marry into royalty. It might surprise you that in the story and in the films, she is only 19 years old. Nonetheless, she managed to overcome the difficulties set before her. She went from dealing with an unkind stepmother and step-siblings to eventually finding her “happily ever after.”
Merida holds the distinction for being the first princess produced by Disney and Pixar. Some might consider her one of the non Disney princesses, but she is still affiliated with the company. Merida is the first, since Ariel, to have red hair. Merida is also among the Disney Princesses who did not have a romantic interest and her story focused solely on saving her family. Like Moana, Merida did not need the help of any Disney princes. This Brave princess managed to overcome all the challenges set before her. She is clever, resourceful, and resilient.
Speaking of red hair, next we have The Little Mermaid. Did you know that Ariel is the first Disney princess who was not born human? On top of that, she is also the first one who is confirmed to have children. Ariel gets the eighth spot on our Disney princess list because she taught us the value of following our dreams, even when it seems impossible. She’s also a fearless adventurer, with a seemingly endless curiosity. Think you know her well? Try this “How well do you know Disney princesses” quiz from Buzzfeed to test your knowledge!
How many Disney princesses do you know have a pet tiger? Jasmine is the deuteragonist of the film Aladdin. She holds the distinction of being the first non-white and the first Middle Eastern / Southwest Asian Princess. Aside from being unafraid to speak her mind and having unfailing courage, we give Jasmine ninth place because she knows what truly matters; not riches, but kindness and having a good heart. Because of her, Aladdin became one of the Disney princes.
Among the Disney princesses names most people remember, Aurora is only often referred to as “The Sleeping Beauty.” Despite this, she remains one of the most enduring princess characters who has had many different iterations across the years. The film Sleeping Beauty also stars one of the most popular Disney villains, Maleficent. Aurora may have the least amount of screen time among all the Disney Princesses, but her kindness and unwavering faith in true love made her shine. She might be best known for her gift of beauty and song, but she deserves more credit for never losing her innate goodness even after falling into Maleficent’s curse. Revenge? Of course not. Aurora just wants everyone to have their own happily ever after.
Is Mulan a princess? She is quite the unique case because she was not born into nobility nor does she become one later on. In fact, Mulan and her partner, Shang, are the only non-royal Disney couple who are included in the Disney Princess franchise. This may be the case, but she definitely deserves the title. After all, she did save the whole of China from one of the scariest Disney villains. Mulan also taught us the importance of staying true to oneself. While she may have been dressed like a man for most of the film, it is when she finally reveals herself as a woman that she becomes most powerful. Beauty and bravery can go hand in hand, right?
Last, but certainly not least, we have Rapunzel. Tangled is among the most successful modern Disney princesses and with good reason. It is a new take on the classic tale of Rapunzel, creating a lead character who can easily charm her way into audience’s hearts. Strong-willed and armed with a frying pan, Rapunzel is no damsel in distress. She’s a far cry from the original Brother’s Grimm story she had been based upon. Tangled also spawned a sequel short film, Tangled Ever After. Most people would agree that she’s one of the more realistic Disney princesses. Rapunzel is awkward, clumsy, and often loses her way, which is not quite the princess stereotype, but it does make her more relatable.
Though they each live in their own fairytales, it isn’t too difficult to imagine these Disney princesses in real life. One of the reasons why they’re so appealing is because we often see our own selves mirrored in them. We see our own imperfections and our victories in them, too! We may not have listed the Disney princesses in order for this list, but we have equal love for these amazing characters.
List of Unofficial Disney Princesses
Wondering why our list of Disney princesses is quite short, despite the fact that there are plenty of characters who meet the qualifications? This is because not all princesses are included in the promotions and products affiliated with the official line up. Instead, these former or unofficial Disney princesses are given a different title: Disney Heroines.
Who are some of the characters that fall under this list?
Queen Anna and Queen Elsa from Frozen
They may be the most sought-after when it comes to Disney princesses coloring pages, but they aren’t official just yet. Why are Anna and Elsa not Disney princesses? In their case, the Frozen film was so successful that it warranted its own franchise. To avoid overlaps, they were switched over to their own franchise instead. In a way, they are still one of Disney’s princesses, just not part of the current official line-up.
Nala from The Lion King
She is the top lioness in the film and is the keeper of Simba’s heart, but Nala isn’t one of the official Disney princesses either. Another factor is the fact that she is not human or humanlike. Aside from Nala, puppets like Miss Piggy, Charlene Sinclair, and Janice are excluded from the official princess line-up. Nonetheless, this hasn’t stopped people from including them in art of Disney princesses reimagined, where they are drawn as humans.
Tinker Bell, Wendy Darling, and Tiger Lily from Peter Pan
Did you know that Tinker Bell was once part of the official Disney Princesses line-up? These days, however, she’s best known for being at the helm of the Disney Fairies franchise. Meanwhile, Wendy Darling and Tiger Lily have the qualities of a princess, but are a better fit for the Disney Heroines franchise instead.
Raya from Raya and the Last Dragon
Raya is the newest Disney heroine on our list and her film is set for release in 2021. She is cut from the same mold as Mulan, Merida, and Moana, whose stories revolve around “warrior princesses” who have been tasked to save their land. She may not be an official Disney princess yet, but she’s already one in our book!
Disney Princesses Trivia
Love Disney princess movies? If so, we’re sure you’ll enjoy our collection of trivia that will help you get to know them even better!
- Can all of the princesses sing? You might be surprised to know that the gift of song isn’t given to all the princesses. One such example is Merida, who does not have an onscreen singing moment in her film.
- What are the names of the Disney princesses from the movie The Little Mermaid? Though not in the official line-up, the Daughters of Triton are Ariel’s sisters and part of nobility. They are: Attina, Alana, Adella, Aquata, Arista, and Andrina. Fun fact: their tails are in the different colors of the rainbow!
- Tiana and Mulan are the only two Disney princesses to have killed the antagonist in their films.
- Mulan also has the biggest death toll out of any Walt Disney character. Chalk that up to her burying an entire arm of Huns in an avalanche.
- Think only Disney princes wield swords? Merida and Mulan both wielded real weapons in their movies, which can also be seen in their merchandise. Rapunzel, on the other hand, is shown holding her trademark frying pan!
Disney princesses have certainly come a long way since we were first introduced to Snow White. These days, they are far more diverse and represent women from all walks of life! Don’t they make you feel hopeful for your own “happily ever after”, too? They remind us that even in the face of challenges, and even powerful Disney villains, a little courage and faith can go a long way. Whoever said there’s no such thing as realistic Disney princesses? Keep this in mind the next time you watch a Disney princess movie!