Remember that one scene in Ralph Breaks the Internet where Princess Vanellope meets The Disney Princesses? While some of their questions may seem ridiculous, it’s actually no joke that there’s more to becoming a Disney royalty than just being royal! It’s no easy feat either, as it involves a unique set of criteria that they are required to meet.
Surprisingly, only 13 princesses have earned the esteemed honor of being currently recognized as official Disney Princesses—a remarkably short list considering the vast array of beloved characters within the Disney universe. This undoubtedly leaves behind a trail of fan favorites and characters cherished by audiences around the globe who didn’t quite meet the stringent standards set by the enchanted gates of this exclusive club.
We’re pulling back the fairytale curtains and uncovering the reasons behind these princesses’ omission from Disney’s official list of royalties.
Honorary Disney Princesses
Although they aren’t officially designated the title of an official Disney princess, these women are too significant in their own regard to be entirely overlooked. They are frequently linked or seen alongside the other Princesses to the extent that you might even mistake them for one.
Elsa and Anna
Elsa and Anna, the sisters from Disney’s Frozen, are undoubtedly some of the most popular Disney characters in recent memory. Their adventures in the enchanted kingdom of Arendelle were so successful that they warranted a separate franchise, making them honorary princesses in their own right.
Frozen and its sequel, Frozen II, became a cultural phenomenon, leading to merchandise, theme park attractions, and even a Broadway musical. And, of course, we can’t forget to mention Elsa’s iconic song, “Let It Go,” which became a global empowerment anthem.
Mirabel, the charming protagonist of Disney’s Encanto, was already planned to be the focal point of the Encanto franchise. This is why she hasn’t been officially included in the Disney Princess lineup but is regarded as an honorary member.
Mirabel’s enchanting story, filled with themes of self-discovery and magical adventures, has quickly endeared her to Disney fans everywhere. Mirabel stands as a shining example, embodying the spirit of courage and acceptance, enchanting audiences with her magic and grace.
Elena of Avalor is another character with princess-like qualities who hasn’t made it into the official Disney Princess lineup. Although she stars in her own animated series, Elena of Avalor, she doesn’t have her own cinematic movie, which is one of the primary criteria for inclusion.
The official lineup usually features characters who have not only displayed their royal qualities but have also appeared in their own full-length animated films, enabling them to seamlessly fit into Disney’s broader narrative and marketing efforts. Nevertheless, Elena remains a cherished gem in Disney’s collection, symbolizing diversity and cultural richness.
Removed Disney Princesses
Being officially recognized as a Disney Princess is a big deal, but there have been cases in the past where a recognized princess was removed from the lineup. These princesses were included during its initial launch but eventually removed later on.
Tinkerbell, the iconic pixie from Peter Pan, was initially part of the Disney Princess franchise. However, she was later removed because her character didn’t quite fit in with the rest of the princesses, who typically have human backgrounds and stories.
Despite losing her princess status, Tinkerbell found a new realm to shine in as she took the lead role in the Disney Fairies franchise. Although she may not wear a crown, there’s still plenty of magic to discover about this twinkling fairy in her own enchanting universe.
A big part of being included in the Princess lineup comes down to being able to make sales, and unfortunately, Esmeralda from The Hunchback of Notre Dame just wasn’t selling as well as some of the other princesses in the franchise. Despite her strength, resilience, and captivating beauty that could spark desire like hellfire, she was removed from the list. However, in the eyes of many fans, she continues to be a beloved Disney princess.
Jane Porter, from Disney’s adaptation of Tarzan, was included on the list for a time before being removed alongside the other two in 2005. So, what was the reason for Disney’s change of heart in excluding the “Queen of the Jungle”? It all boiled down to style; Jane bore a striking resemblance to Belle from Beauty and the Beast, from their brown hair down to their iconic golden gowns.
This similarity raised concerns about potential confusion among fans, prompting Disney to reconsider Jane’s inclusion among the princesses. Regrettably, Jane didn’t find her place among the princesses, as Disney aimed to ensure that every princess retained a completely unique style.
Unofficial Disney Princesses
Here are some of the most notable princesses excluded from the list and why they weren’t included.
Our curious adventurer from Alice in Wonderland was never officially made part of the Disney Princess Franchise despite being called “Princess of Wonderland” and marketed in some merchandise as the “Princess of Imagination.” It’s possible that when the new rules for becoming an official Disney Princess were made, Alice was overlooked due to her age, as she’s considered too young compared to the other princesses.
Megara, or Meg from Hercules, could have been a Disney Princess, but it’s been speculated that the reason for her exclusion stems from the character’s more mature and sensual nature. It did not align with the traditional image associated with Disney Princesses aimed at younger audiences. The fact that she doesn’t follow the common storyline of marrying her hero, Hercules, at the end of the film might have played a role.
Kida, from Atlantis: The Lost Empire, was envisioned as a unique addition to the Disney Princess franchise. However, the film’s non-musical nature led to criticism and commercial failure, diminishing her appeal among young audiences. Despite Disney’s attempts to integrate her into the franchise through merchandise and even a redesign in 2013, Kida just failed to seamlessly blend in with the other princesses, resulting in her exclusion.
While Princess Leia is now part of the Disney family through its acquisition of Lucasfilm, she doesn’t officially join the Disney Princess lineup, primarily because she originates from the Star Wars universe.
One of the criteria that Disney strictly adheres to for selecting princesses is that the character must be human or humanlike. This rules out any hope for Lion King‘s very own Nala. Not even being voiced by Queen Bey herself in the live-action film could change her status. It’s a bit of a downer for sure, but it seems like rules are rules, even in the magical animal kingdom.
Despite hailing from an original live-action film and not ending up as royalty at the end of her film, Giselle from Disney’s Enchanted actually came so close to joining this elusive club of Disney Princesses. What stopped her from joining the royalties? Royalties.
Since Giselle’s appearance is based on her actress, Amy Adams, Disney would have had to pay for her likeness every time Giselle was included in merchandise, something that proved too troublesome for the House of Mouse. Idina Menzel’s Nancy Tremaine also suffers from the same problem, which is why they’re also excluded from the list.
Vanellope von Schweetz
This glitchy racer is the royalty at the heart of her own racing game, Sugar Rush, in the Wreck-It Ralph movie. Vanellope can be seen as an unconventional princess because she spends most of the movie rejecting that title. Instead, she willingly trades her elegant sugar ball gowns for a hoodie and tutu, showcasing her distinctive style that sets her apart from the other princesses.
Melody might be the daughter of the Disney Princess, but Disney does not award her the same recognition as her mother, Ariel. Even though she is born into royalty and central to the plot of The Little Mermaid II: Return to the Sea, Disney does not count characters from movie sequels.
Other Unofficial Princesses
There are plenty of other Disney heroines that could have been official princesses but aren’t, so we’ve categorized them based on the criteria they don’t meet.
From TV series or shorts only:
- Star Butterfly from Star vs. the Forces of Evil
- Eclipsa Butterfly from Star vs. the Forces of Evil
- Jushtin Butterfly from Star vs. the Forces of Evil
- Princess Sofia from Sofia the First
- Dahlia from Destino
- Kilala Reno from Kilala Princess
From movie sequels:
- Jessie from Toy Story 2
- Ting-Ting, Su, and Mei from Mulan II
Hails from movies that flopped commercially:
- Eilonwy from The Black Cauldron
Not human or humanlike:
- Minnie Mouse
- Daisy Duck
- Princess Kiara from The Lion King II: Simba’s Pride
- Maid Marian from Robin Hood
- Atta and Dot from A Bug’s Life
Not royalty nor married into royalty:
- Wendy Darling from Peter Pan
- Shanti from The Jungle Book
Did not play a significant role in the movie/secondary character:
- Tiger Lily from Peter Pan
- Daughters of Triton from The Little Mermaid
- Nakoma from Pocahontas
- Charlotte la Bouff from The Princess and the Frog
Rights were acquired by Disney:
- Thumbelina from Thumbelina
- Anya from Anastasia
- Akima Kunimoto from Titan A.E.