Matthew van Eerde's web log

  • Matthew van Eerde's web log

    Disney princesses: an attempt at a complete list


    Last time we examined the "Disney princess" status of Belle from Beauty and the Beast. This time I attempt to give an exhaustive list of all Disney princesses together with a very short summary of their status.

    Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937)

    Snow White
    Queen's Daughter; Queen? Prince's Girlfriend; Prince's Wife?
    Disney Princess

    Bambi (1942)

    Prince's Wife
    Disney Princess
    Bambi's Mother
    Prince's Wife
    Disney Princess

    Cinderella (1950)

    Prince's Wife
    Disney Princess

    Peter Pan (1953)

    Tiger Lily
    Chief's Daughter
    Disney Princess

    Sleeping Beauty (1959)

    King's Daughter; Prince's Girlfriend; Prince's Wife?
    Disney Princess

    Robin Hood (1973)

    Maid Marian
    Wealthy; Prince(?)'s Girlfriend
    Not a princess

    Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind (1984: Studio Ghibli1)

    King's Daughter; Queen?
    Disney(?) Princess
    Royalty's Daughter
    Disney(?) Princess
    Queen's Daughter
    Disney(?) Princess

    The Black Cauldron (1985)

    Queen's Daughter; Prince(?)2's Girlfriend(?)
    Disney Princess

    Castle in the Sky (1986: Studio Ghibli)

    Queen's Daughter; Queen?
    Disney(?) Princess

    Oliver & Company (1988)

    Not a princess

    The Little Mermaid (1989)

    King's Daughter; Queen's Daughter?3 Prince's Wife
    Disney Princess
    Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Attina, Adella, Alana
    King's Daughter; Queen's Daughter?3 Queen?4
    Disney Princesses

    Beauty and the Beast (1991)

    Prince's Girlfriend; Prince's Wife?5
    Disney Princess?

    Aladdin (1992)

    Sultan's Daughter; Prince's Girlfriend?6 Sultan's Girlfriend?7
    Disney Princess

    The Lion King (1994)

    King's Daughter8; Prince's Girlfriend; King's Girlfriend; King's Wife
    Disney Princess
    King's Daughter9
    Disney Princess?

    Pocahontas (1995)

    Chief's Daughter
    Disney Princess

    Princess Mononoke (1997: Studio Ghibli)

    San (also known as Princess Mononoke)
    Wolf God's Adopted Daughter
    Disney(?) Princess
    Prince's Sister
    Disney(?) Princess

    A Bug's Life (1998: Pixar)

    Queen's Daughter
    Disney(?) Princess
    Queen's Daughter; Queen
    Disney(?) Princess

    Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)

    King's Daughter; Queen
    Disney Princess

    Tales from Earthsea (2006: Studio Ghibli)

    Therru (true name Tehanu)
    Prince's Girlfriend
    Not a princess

    Ponyo (2008: Studio Ghibli)

    Queen's Daughter
    Disney(?) Princess

    The Princess and the Frog (2009)

    Prince's Wife
    Disney Princess
    King's Daughter10
    Disney Princess

    Tangled (2010)

    King & Queen's Daughter
    Disney Princess

    Brave (2012)

    King & Queen's Daughter
    Disney Princess

    Wreck-it Ralph (2012)

    Vanellope von Schweetz
    Disney Princess

    Frozen (2013)

    King & Queen's Daughter; Queen?11
    Disney Princess
    King & Queen's Daughter; Queen
    Disney Princess

    Methodology - I started with Disney's own "50 animated features" list as present on the Tangled DVD. To this I added the list of Pixar and (somewhat more controversially) Studio Ghibli movies released under the Disney name.

    1 Nausicaä of the Valley of Wind is technically not a Studio Ghibli film as the studio was not founded until after the film was released.
    2 In The Black Cauldron, Taran is not yet aware that he is a prince.
    3 In The Little Mermaid, Ursula briefly has a claim to being a queen. Her relationship to Triton is never made clear; if she is his ex-wife, Ariel and her sisters are potentially her daughters.
    4 In The Little Mermaid, Triton is briefly incapacitated. His eldest daughter thus has a brief claim to being Queen.
    5 In Beauty and the Beast, Belle's princess status hinges on whether she is married to the Beast.
    6 In Aladdin, Aladdin spends a fair amount of time transformed into a prince, though it is not clear where his principality lies.
    7 In Aladdin, Jafar is briefly Sultan and attempts to woo Jasmine, though there is no reciprocity in their relationship.
    8 In The Lion King it is perhaps best not to inquire too closely into the precise nature of the familial relationships between members of the pride in question.
    9 The Lion King ends with a shot of Simba and Nala's cub being presented, but it is not clear whether the cub is male or female; in sequels it is made clear that the cub is a girl and her name is Kiara.
    10 Charlotte's father is King of Mardi Gras, so Charlotte is princess for only one day. Still, Once a Princess, Always a Princess.
    11 When Elsa abandons Arendelle, there is a case to be made that Anna is de facto Queen. Anna herself would dispute this claim.

  • Matthew van Eerde's web log

    Disney princess pedigree: Belle


    Is Belle a Disney princess?

    The case in favor

    As is clearly established in the opening monologue, the male lead is a prince. Only his outward form is temporarily changed by the nasty enchantress who entraps him into refusing shelter (as if this was a crime.) Nevertheless, he retains property rights to his castle and the surrounding dominions - even were this not the case, Once a Prince, Always a Prince.

    Throughout the movie Belle handles herself with princessly aplomb:

    • She evades the unwanted attentions of Gaston without overtly hurting his feelings.
    • She is able to find and rescue her father.
    • She keeps her word not to leave the castle even when afforded an opportunity to escape by the Beast's injury.
    • She wins the hearts of the castle servants.
    • She civilizes the prince, taming his notorious temper and finding a modified set of table manners that are within the physical limitations imposed by his enchantment.

    The enchantress's spell serves as a litmus test for true love. The restoring of the prince's human form is proof that Belle and the prince love one another; they then kiss, and are married. Thus Belle has the clear title of Princess by Marriage.

    The case against

    It is granted that the male lead is a prince during the opening monologue. Granted, too, is his status as a prince in the closing scenes. One might question the practical effect of his princely status in the interim, especially since no-one outside of his castle is apparently aware of his existence. Certainly his behavior at several points during the movie is extremely unbecoming of a prince, or even a decent commoner:

    • He refuses shelter to an old woman, exposing both himself and the population of the castle to the wrath of an enchantress (who was admittedly overreacting a little.)
    • He withdraws from society.
    • He frequently loses his temper with his servants and others.
    • He imprisons Maurice, whose only crime was seeking refuge from wolves.
    • He imprisons Belle, whose only crime was looking for Maurice.
    • His table manners are decidedly unroyal.

    Belle's achievements as a young lady, though they do her credit (with the possible exception of passing up the opportunity to escape,) are irrelevant to her claim to the title of princess. Many a commoner has virtue; their lack of a princess title in no way diminishes that virtue.

    It pains me to say this, but Belle displays consistently poor social abilities throughout the movie - she is established as a withdrawn, introverted character who prefers the company of books to that of people. It is small wonder that she is easy prey for the sociopathic Beast. It is clear to me that over a prolonged period in a captor/hostage relationship, she eventually succumbs to Stockholm syndrome.

    The transformation is not necessarily indicative of true love between the Beast and Belle. It is true that the transformation was coincident with Belle's profession of love to the (as she perceived it) dying Beast. But it was also coincident with the falling of the last petal from the rose. Why believe that the former, rather than the latter, ended the enchantment? We have only the enchantress's word for this, and enchantresses are not known to be women of their words. In any case, Being a Prince's Girlfriend Does Not Suffice.

    One might challenge the validity of a marriage contract entered into when one of the parties was not of sound mind. But is there a marriage contract at all to challenge? There is no direct evidence that Beauty and the Beast are married at all.

    The verdict

    Belle has no claim to being a Princess by Birth; only to being a Princess by Marriage. It is clear that the Beast is a prince. What we have to decide is, was there a marriage?

    The final scene is quite artistic in its ambiguity. The penultimate scene culminates in a fairly passionate kiss (by Disney standards.) This is followed up by a formal dance, with Belle and the prince wearing their best outfits. And yet... No Dress, No Kiss, No Wedding. It is almost as if the scene were crafted so that all the young ladies in the audience could watch the scene and come away with the firm impression that Belle and the prince were married, and all of their fathers could come away with the firm impression that there was still hope that Belle would come to her senses. Note especially Chip's question "are they going to live happily ever after, Mama?", and Ms. Potts' pat answer "of course".

    In that critical final scene, Belle is wearing gloves, but the presence of a ring on the prince's finger would help Belle's case for princesshood significantly; I was unable to see one.

    Verdict: Controversial

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August, 2011