Every little girl dreams of being a Disney Princess but what exactly does that mean? According to Disney, a true princess must be royal by birth, marriage, or by performing a heroic deed. And each princess exhibits qualities such as bravery, loyalty, tolerance, and strength. Bonus points if the princess is fiercely independent. We ranked Disney princesses based on these qualities — now let’s see how they’ve stacked up.
We may be a little biased, but Tiana gets the top spot on our list. We first fell in love with our industrious, no-nonsense princess in The Princess & the Frog. She was the first Black Disney Princess ever. Not to mention, she’s the only Disney princess that owns her own business — talk about goals.
Many fans of Tiana lament that she spent most of the film as a slimy frog fighting off the likes of the Shadow Man. But her entry into the Disney Princess Franchise will always be celebrated. And while Tiana did marry a handsome prince, she taught us that anyone can make their dreams come true with hard work and a bit of wishing.
With a dreamy, far-off look and her head stuck in a book, many a bookworm could relate to the studious Belle of Beauty & the Beast. Refusing to settle for a provincial life as the wife of a narcissistic oaf, Belle dreams of so much more. Her life takes a turn when she finds herself a prisoner in the Beast’s castle. Belle taught us you can’t judge a book by its cover. Her sweet yet headstrong nature wins over the Beast, and in the end, she falls in love with her equal in beauty and mind.
The titular Moana is probably the most adventurous princess in the lineup. After suffering a tragic loss, she sets out on a quest across the ocean to save her people. Encountering demi-gods and monsters along the way, she never loses sight of her goal. That’s something we can’t help but admire.
Moana is also one of the most relatable princesses. Despite her best efforts, she’s torn between her love of the sea, approval from her father, and the expectations of her village. In the end, she doesn’t have to choose and lives out her life on the sea with her people at her side.
In Aladdin, we meet the headstrong Princess Jasmine. Sheltered from the outside world by her overprotective father, she longs for a life outside the palace walls. As if being shut away isn’t difficult enough, Jasmine must contend with a line of suitors vying for her hand in marriage. Surprisingly, she falls for a street rat, who sets off a chain of events resulting in a plot to overthrow her father’s kingdom (talk about awkward). Aladdin may be the hero, but you can’t deny he couldn’t have done it without Jasmine at his side.
“Dishonor, dishonor on your whole family!” In Mulan, we learn that preserving a family’s honor is far more important than self. Mulan defies her family and the laws that govern her country and takes her ailing father’s place in the imperial army disguised as a man. If her identity were to be revealed, her family would be shamed, and her life would be forfeited.
Despite all odds and with some help from a hilarious dragon, Mulan saves the emperor and all of China. She exemplifies selflessness, bravery, and strength, all the qualities every princess should aspire to be. Oh, and she catches the eye of the smoking hot, Shang Li. Mulan is winning!
For someone locked up in a castle for 18 years by her overbearing “mother,” you can’t help but admire Rapunzel’s resilience in Tangled. This golden-haired princess is determined to see floating lights, even if it means she will have to face off against vandals and ruffians. Rapunzel can hold her own and is a force to be reckoned with, despite being sheltered her entire life.
Not only will she fight to make her dreams come true, but she inspires others to do the same. Her perpetual joy and positivity even softens the heart of the jaded Flynn Rider. In the end, her wish is fulfilled, she finds love, and is reunited with her long-lost family. She’s a girl that makes it happen for herself.
Living under the sea isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In The Little Mermaid, Ariel dreams of a life above the surface — much to the chagrin of her overprotective father, King Triton. Ariel yearns to be human and is willing to give up her voice to a scheming sea witch for the chance to walk on land. Although some may wag their fins, I mean tongues, at the idea of a 16-year-old girl leaving her home and family behind for a boy, we can’t help but relate to Ariel’s pursuit of love. Ariel wins the heart of Prince Eric, defeats Ursula, and unites both of her worlds in sweet harmony. What’s not to love about a girl like that?
Cinderella was Walt Disney’s favorite princess, and we can see why. In Cinderella, our girl Cindy lives the life of a servant, mistreated by her stepmother and wicked stepsisters, and she does it all with a smile on her face. When the opportunity to attend a royal ball is presented, Cinderella is elated.
With the help of her fairy godmother, Cinderella is whisked away to the ball. The Prince is entranced by her beauty both inside and out. Despite her stepmother’s attempt to thwart her, Cinderella marries the Prince. We can’t help but admire a girl whose kindness and perseverance lead to her happy ending.
9. Snow White
While she isn’t ranked number one on our list, Snow White still has the honor of being the first official Disney Princess ever. In Snow White, we meet a beautiful maiden who is reduced to a scullery maid by her Evil Stepmother. Much like Cinderella, Snow White doesn’t lament her life of servitude and performs her duties with a smile and a song. Her sweet voice attracts the attention of a handsome prince, which angers the Queen.
The Queen dispatches a hunter to murder Snow, who allows her to escape. Our princess flees into the forest, ultimately under the care of the seven dwarfs. Her kind nature soon wins them over. Her happiness is short-lived when the Queen tricks her into eating a poisoned apple. But her lasting impression on the prince and true love’s kiss is her ultimate salvation.
10. Sleeping Beauty
Despite appearing in only 18 minutes of Sleeping Beauty, viewers were invested in the fate of Princess Aurora. The beautiful princess is cast under the spell of an evil fairy to die at the hands of a spindle of a spinning wheel on her 16th birthday. Her parents attempt to prevent the curse by hiding her away under the care of three good fairies. Her beautiful singing voice casts a spell of her own over Prince Phillip and they fall in love. Although the fairies and the King & Queen exhausted all efforts to protect Aurora, her fate is sealed, and she spends the rest of the film in a deep sleep. Aurora is saved by the prince with a kiss. Aurora may be a damsel in distress, but we can’t help rooting for her.
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Angelica Monk is an Afro-Latina, working mom, writer, podcaster, social media wiz, and proud Disney enthusiast who enjoys covering music festivals, popular fandoms, and beloved TV shows. She is a huge Game of Thrones superfan and an avid lover of period dramas. You can find her on Twitter at @AngieDaCoolNerd or on Instagram at @Angelica_TheCoolBlerd.