Disney Princess is a media franchise owned by The Walt Disney Company, originally created by Disney Consumer Products chairman Andy Mooney in the late 1990s and officially launched in 2000. The original eight princesses consisted of Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas, and Mulan. The franchise spotlights a line-up of fictional female heroines who have appeared in Disney animated feature films. The franchise currently includes eleven female protagonists from ten different Walt Disney Animation Studios films and one Pixar film, each of whom is either royal by birth, royal by marriage, or considered a "princess" due to her significant portrayal of heroism.
The Disney Princesses are featured in a wide variety of merchandise, appearing in anything from various sing-a-long movies, dolls and other toys to bed linens, clothing and toiletries (such as hairbrushes and toothpaste). The Princesses are also prominently featured at the Disney theme parks.
Since 2013, with the exception of those created after the Disney Renaissance, the Princesses have been showcased in their enhanced and modified/redesigned outfits (excluding Ariel and Mulan), instead of the actual garments that they wear in their respective movies.
Requirements to be a "Disney Princess"
Each Official Disney Princess must meet the following requirements: A) has a primary role in a Disney animated feature film, B) is human or mostly human-like (e.g. Ariel), and C) does not appear primarily in a sequel. The actual title of Princess (or equivalent) is not necessary, but certainly helps.
Facts pertaining to the original fairy tales upon which the films are based are irrelevant to the versions appearing in the franchise.
The Princesses themselves, despite appearing in separate films, have distinct similarities. Most Princesses have the common ability to communicate with animals (even if the animals do not actually talk back). They are also known for their inner and outer beauty, as well as having beautiful singing voices (the exception to this is Merida, who only sings a song with her mother when she is little). Each Princess (excluding Merida and Elsa) also has a romance that is resolved by the end of the film; the male counterparts are known as Disney Princes.
The Princesses can also be grouped depending on what era their films debuted. The "original" three (Snow White, Cinderella and Aurora), are quiet, classy, graceful and romantic daydreamers; they play more of a "damsel in distress" role and suffer from the actions caused by others. They hold an inner strength through compassion, love, kindness and (particularly with Snow White) a strong sense of resilience.
During the Disney Renaissance Era, which started with The Little Mermaid in 1989 and ended in 2000, the heroines in Disney feature films became more active than reactive and included Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas and Mulan. These women were strong-willed, adventurous, feisty, cunning and determined. They were less interested in finding love and more interested in finding adventure and freedom. The Renaissance Princesses also existed in worlds that were more self-aware of the changing roles of women. For example, in The Little Mermaid, the villainess Ursula assures Ariel that she won't need her voice on land as men prefer silent women; Belle, from Beauty and the Beast, is told by Gaston that "it's not right for a woman to read." And Mulan, who joins an army under the guise of a man, must listen to her peers extol masculine traits, while describing an ideal wife who is pretty, obedient and a good cook.
The latest Princesses were created within the past decade and are more modern. Tiana from The Princess and the Frog is a young woman who doesn't rely on magic and knows that it takes hard work to reach one's goals; Rapunzel from Tangled, however, is more idealistic and isn't afraid to go after what she wants.
Why Some Disney Females are not a "Disney Princess"
Some female protagonists, even those that hold the "princess" title, may not be included in the official line-up for the following reasons: they are not marketable, their film did poorly at the box office (e.g. Kida from Atlantis), they are too young (e.g. Sofia from "Sofia the First".), or she is not human (e.g. Nala from The Lion King). Or in the case of Anna and Elsa their franchise is so successful that it's not necessary to add them to Disney Princess. Some have made theories and assumptions that the popularity and recognition that both Anna and Elsa have been constantly receiving, would overshadow the rest of the members of the franchise.
Each of the following 11 women has been certified as an "Official Disney Princess." Some were born into the title (e.g. Aurora, Merida), some married the son of a king (e.g. Cinderella), some married a Reigning Prince (e.g. Belle), and some correspond to an equivalent title (e.g. Chieftain's Daughter and Sultan's Daughter). So far, the one exception to these rules is Mulan; she is currently the only Official Disney Princess who neither comes from a royal bloodline nor marries into royalty.
Born into Royalty: Snow White, Aurora, Ariel, Jasmine (as a Sultan's daughter), Rapunzel, and Merida. Pocahontas is considered to be of royal heritage, as she is the daughter of a chief and therefore considered Native American royalty by the English. Elena is also of royal lineage, though she has yet to be officially inducted as a Disney Princesse.
Not Royal: Mulan is royal by neither birth nor marriage, but is still included in the line-up as she meets other requirements and received grace from the Emperor after saving China.
Regardless of any actual title(s) possessed, each Official Disney Princess is properly addressed (within the franchise) as "Princess ________".
Princess Snow White
Snow White, titular character of the 1937 Disney movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, is a character based on the German fairy tale "Schneewittchen." Snow White has the honor of being the first Princess in the first Disney animated feature, paving the way for all subsequent princesses. Adriana Caselotti provides the voice/singing voice for Snow White. Her true love is the Prince, who is able to wake her from her eternal sleep with true love's kiss. At 14, she is the youngest of the official Disney Princesses.
Cinderella is the main protagonist of her eponymous film and two sequels and is the second Disney Princess. She is based on the European fairy tale of the same name, of which several variations exist. Ilene Woods provides the voice/singing voice for Cinderella (Original Disney version), Jennifer Hale provides the voice of Cinderella in the sequels, Tami Tappan provides Cinderella's singing voice in Cinderella III. Cinderella is the first Disney Princess to have siblings (albeit step-siblings) and is 19 years old. Cinderella is the first Disney Princess who is married into royalty (she marries Prince Charming).
Aurora is the titular protagonist of the film Sleeping Beauty, based on the classic fairy tale involving a beautiful princess, a sleeping enchantment, and a handsome prince. Aurora is sixteen years old. Mary Costa provides the voice/singing voice for Aurora. The original story is much darker than the Disney version. Aurora has the distinction of being both the Princess with the least amount of screen time and singing more of her lines than speaking them. Aurora has the purest pedigree of any Disney Princess, being the first and only child of a king (King Stefan) who also presumably marries Prince Phillip, the firstborn son and heir of a king (King Hubert).
Ariel is the female protagonist of the films The Little Mermaid, The Little Mermaid II (although the title of main female protagonist is shared with Melody) and The Little Mermaid III, as well as The Little Mermaid Television Series. Jodi Benson provides the voice/singing voice of Ariel in all Disney animated appearances. Ariel is the first Disney Princess to have not been born human and is also the first Disney Princess confirmed to have children as she and Eric have a daughter, Melody, in the sequel. She is sixteen years old in the first film and is presumably in her late twenties in the sequel. Ariel's title of Princess comes from her father, King Triton, a title she shares with her six older sisters. She acquires the title of Princess Consort through her marriage to Prince Eric, though it is unclear whether he is a Prince Regnant (most likely), the son of a King, or both.
Belle is the fifth Disney princess and the main female protagonist of the film Beauty and the Beast and its two sequels. Paige O'Hara provides the voice/singing voice of Belle in all three films. Belle is the first Disney Princess to have an antagonist become her love interest. She is also the first person to have a confirmed country in the movie (France). Belle is seventeen years old and the second Disney Princess to be of common birth. When she marries Prince Adam (a Prince Regnant of his principality), she becomes a Princess Consort.
Jasmine is the main female protagonist of Aladdin, its two sequels, and the television series. Linda Larkin provides Jasmine's voice in all animated iterations of Aladdin, Lea Solanga provides the singing voice for Jasmine in the original Aladdin, Liz Callaway provides the singing voice for Jasmine in the sequels. Jasmine is the daughter (and only child) of the Sultan of Agrabah, the traditional title styled "Shahzadi Sultana" (Princess). When she marries Aladdin, a commoner (the son of the self-styled "King of Thieves" notwithstanding), he gains the title Prince Consort. Upon the death or abdication of her father in favor of Aladdin (as was stated to be the Sultan's wish), Aladdin would become the Sultan of Agrabah and Jasmine would acquire the title of Sultana. She is the first princess to not be the titular character in her film and is the first non-white and the first Middle Eastern/southwest Asian princess.
Pocahontas is the main protagonist of the film Pocahontas and its sequel, Pocahontas II, and is the first Disney Princess to have been based (loosely) on a real person, instead of a fairy tale. She is a Powhatan Native American, and she is the first Disney Princess to have two "princes" (John Smith and John Rolfe, though only the former is an official Disney Prince). Pocahontas is the second Princess (after Jasmine) to have her singing voice and speaking voice provided by two different voice actresses. Irene Bedard and Judy Kuhn provide the voice and singing voice of Pocahontas in both movies, respectively. Pocahontas was born as the only child of Chief Powhatan, thus giving her the title of Chieftain's Daughter. Though not royalty, she is accorded the respect of one (i.e. a princess) in the sequel and is officially regarded as a Disney Princess. Her eventual marriage to John Rolfe (a commoner) does not change her status or his.
Fa Mulan is the main protagonist in the Disney film Mulan and its sequel Mulan II. She is the first Disney Princess to be based on a legend and the second not to be based on a fairy tale (Pocahontas). Ming-Na Wen and Lea Salonga provide the voice and singing voice of Mulan in both films, respectively. Mulan is (to date) the only Disney Princess who does not hold the title of Princess in one form or another. However, she does earn the non-noble title of Imperial Consul. Her eventual marriage to General Li Shang (also non-noble) does not grant her any titles either. Mulan and Shang are the only non-royal Disney couple in the Disney Princess franchise.
Princess (Consort) Tiana
Tiana is the main female protagonist in the film The Princess and the Frog. Tiana made history as the first African-American Disney Princess. Anika Noni Rose provides the voice/singing for Tiana. She is the third to be married into her title. Commoner-born, Tiana becomes Princess Consort upon her marriage to Prince Naveen, the eldest son and Heir Apparent of the King of Maldonia. She is the most modern of all princesses due to living in 1920s New Orleans and is the first American and first black princess.
Rapunzel is the main female protagonist in the film Tangled and the short film Tangled Ever After. Like Aurora, she has golden hair, was born into her title, and was removed from her parent's custody as a baby, only to be reunited in her teens. Mandy Moore provides the voice/singing voice for Rapunzel. She is strong-willed and her preferred weapon is a frying pan. As the only child of the King and Queen of Corona, she eventually marries Eugene "Flynn Rider" Fitzherbert, giving him the title of Prince Consort. Upon the death or abdication of her father, Rapunzel will become Queen Regnant of Corona, while her husband will remain Prince Consort.
Merida is the main protagonist of the Disney/Pixar film Brave, making her the first Pixar Princess. She is the first princess since Ariel to have red hair: she has long, curly, red hair and blue eyes. Kelly MacDonald and Julie Fowlis provide the voice and singing voice for Merida. Merida is a Princess by blood; firstborn of King Fergus of DunBroch. Her lack of a romantic interest (and lack of any sequels) makes it unlikely that she will rise to rule the kingdom as a Regnant Queen, considering the views of gender equality in the era.
Princesses and "Princesses" Outside of the Lineup
This category includes characters who meet the qualifications for Disney Princess and/or have been included in Disney Princess merchandise, but are not included in the official lineup. These characters stand above those denominated as "Heroines" because heroines do not have any chance of actually joining the franchise.
Anna is the main protagonist of the Disney film Frozen and is the younger daughter of the King and Queen of Arendelle (a Norwegian Kingdom). Kristen Bell provides the voice/singing voice for Anna. She has long, ginger hair with a white highlight (where Queen Elsa shot her with ice in the head) and blue eyes, and is a free-spirited, fearless, happy-go-lucky, reckless ball of energy who lives by trusting her own feelings. Presumably, she will eventually marry Kristoff and, as a result, grant him the title of Prince Consort. As the next-in-line for the Arendelle throne, she stands to eventually become Queen Regnant in her own right upon the abdication of her sister, Queen Elsa. Anna finds out that she and Elsa have a third sister.
Elsa is the current queen of Arendelle. Idina Menzel provides the voice/singing voice for Elsa. She is not a Princess anymore due to her coronation in the movie. She has magical powers to create ice and snow which she tries to hide at the beginning of the movie. After her powers are accidentally revealed, though, she has great difficulty controlling them which leads to Arendelle freezing over and nearly causes her sister's death. However, Anna is saved and Elsa stops the snowstorm around Arendelle and befriends Kristoff, Sven and Olaf. Elsa and Anna later find out that they have a third sister. Anna and Kristoff got married off screen.
Kidagakash "Kida" Nedakh is the deuteragonist of Atlantis: The Lost Empire and it's direct-to-video sequel, Milo's Return, is a princess and later a queen of Atlantis. Because of her film's box office failure, she hasn't been inducted into the official lineup. She would have been the eldest princess due to her age being 28 in human years and would have also been the first one to become a queen on-screen. She is also considered to be a "forgotten" character by the programmers of Epic Mickey, making a cameo appearance with her mask.
Elena is a sixteen year old Latin American princess. She is an official Disney princess but is not part of the merchandising lineup.
Atta is the deuteragonist of A Bug's Life and succeeds her mother's throne as queen at the end of the film. Despite Merida making the roster for the lineup even though she is technically a Pixar character before being a Disney character, she is human royalty; Atta's being an insect disqualifies her from the lineup.
Attina, Alana, Adella, Aquata, Arista, and Andrina are Ariel's older sisters. They are the daughters of King Triton and Queen Athena, which makes them the princesses of Atlantica. Ariel's sisters appear only briefly in The Little Mermaid and its sequel, but they each have a more prominent role in The Little Mermaid: Ariel's Beginning, as well as the TV series spin-off.
Dot is Atta's younger sister in A Bug's Life'.
Eilonwy (Eye-lon-wee) was first introduced as the main female protagonist in The Black Cauldron. Based on Eilonwy from the novels "The Book of Three" and "The Black Cauldron" by Lloyd Alexander. The movie was Disney's first PG-rated movie. Despite being a princess in her own movie, she never became a part of the official Disney Princess franchise. The reasoning was due to the fact that the movie rating was PG and mainly due to the film's lack of success and copyright issues. Being twelve years old, she would have been the youngest Disney Princess had she been inducted into the franchise.
Giselle is the main protagonist of the movie Enchanted and a former princess of the Kingdom, Andalasia. Inspired by Disney's own princess franchise. She is both portrayed and voiced by Amy Adams. Though her film was a success and she was initially intended to join the line-up, plans were dropped quickly when the company had realized that they would have to pay royalties to Amy Adams for using her likeness. Additionally, it is her friend, Nancy, who ends up marrying the Prince. If she were to join, Giselle would have been the first official princess to star in a film that was not part of the Disney animation canon.
Megara (Meg) also more commonly referred to as Meg, is the female tritagonist from Disney's Hercules. She is the love interest of Hercules and is voiced by Susan Egan. She was mainly inspired by the character of Megara from Greek mythology. During D23 Expo 2013, Meg was cited as a Disney Princess and Susan Egan was confirmed to be at the event, which led to rumors that she would be entered into the franchise.
Melody is the main female protagonist in The Little Mermaid II. She is the daughter of Ariel and Eric and is the first Princess to have only appeared in a Disney sequel. She is not an official Disney Princess because her film was not theatrically released.
Nancy is a secondary character in the film Enchanted. Although she wasn't announced as a princess, she was the one who ended up marrying Edward at the end of the film. She is not an official Disney Princess because she was only a secondary character in the film.
Sofia is the main protagonist of the movie Sofia the First: Once Upon a Princess and the Disney Junior television series Sofia the First. Sofia is a little girl who came into royalty when her mother marries the King of Enchancia. She is voiced by Ariel Winter. Though she is affiliated with Disney Princess franchise in her own show, she is in no way planned to be in the official line-up. This is due to her being from a television show and for the fact that she is too young.
Ting-Ting, Su and Mei are the daughters of the Emperor in Mulan II. They are not official Princesses because they were only secondary characters in a direct-to-video sequel.
Kilala is the main protagonist of the manga series Kilala Princess. Most likely she is not a princess because she is a manga character and has never been in a film.
Kneesaa is a female Ewok who served as the princess of the Bright Tree Village, a daughter of Chief Chirpa and Ra-Lee, and also a younger sister to Asha. She later became the Chieftainess of the Bright Tree Village and Wicket Wystri Warrick's wife. Being a Star Wars character disqualifies her from the roster.
Princess Leia is a fictional character in the Star Wars universe. She is also a main protagonist in the original Star Wars trilogy and her position is less descriptive of her family status and more related to her being a figure of authority within the resistance against the Empire (and later she becomes part of the Republic), which disqualifies her from the roster.
Maid Marian is the main female protagonist in Robin Hood. She is the niece of King Richard, which means that she comes from a royal bloodline; however, she is not a princess because she is non-human and a fox.
Marianne is the female protagonist of Lucasfilm's Strange Magic. Despite being a princess, she is not a Disney Princess because she is a fairy and because of the negative critical reception and box office faillure of the aforementioned movie.
Nala is the main female protagonist in The Lion King and a secondary female protagonist in The Lion King II and The Lion King I 1/2. She is Simba's love interest, and if she were a princess, she would have been the second princess to have children. However, she is not an official Disney Princess because she is a lion.
Vanellope von Schweetz is the main female protagonist of Wreck-It-Ralph. She is the missing princess of the game Sugar Rush. She is not an official Disney Princess because of her young age and her desire to forfeit her title of princess in favor of being named "president of Sugar Rush."
Expected to Join
Moana is the newest Disney princess. She stars in the new Disney movie Moana, which came out in late in 2016. Hawai'ian actress Auli'i Cravalho voices Moana. Moana embarks through many adventures with Maui, a demigod she befriends. She is the daughter of the chieftain of Motu Nui and is expected to follow his steps as a future chief herself and place a mark of leadership on the highest peak of their island. Though she argues against being called a princess, Maui's logic states that, as she wears a dress and has an animal companion, she must be one.
To see more screenshots of the Disney Princesses, see List of Disney Princesses/Gallery.