Although the exact requirements for a character to become an official Disney Princess have never been revealed, many of them have in common that they either don’t have a mother or are orphans – however, there are many others who have both parents, and in some cases, they play a part in their stories. When talking about animated movies, the first name that inevitably comes up is that of Walt Disney Pictures, and even though the studio has made all types of movies both animated and live-action, it continues to be best known for its animated stories. However, there’s a special franchise within Disney that houses an exclusive group of characters from the Mouse House’s most famous animated movies: the Disney Princess franchise.
The first movie to join this exclusive group was the studio’s very first animated long feature: Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The Disney Princess franchise has grown over the years, but not every female lead can be part of it, as there are some requirements that have to be met, though what they are exactly are only known to those working at Disney. The franchise is currently formed by Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Pocahontas, Jasmine, Mulan, Merida, Tiana, Rapunzel, and Moana, and they all have some things in common, such as being born royal or marrying into royalty (or performing a heroic act, as is Mulan’s case), having an animal companion, and at least one musical number. There’s another, more obscure detail that most princesses have in common: they are orphans or don’t have a mother.
Most Disney Princesses are known for coming from “broken homes”, which adds to their tragic backstories and makes their successes all the more exciting, and while this has been believed to be a requirement, there are actually many princesses whose parents are still alive. There’s one case, however, that can be considered in both categories: The Princess and the Frog’s Tiana, who grew up with both parents and her father was the reason why she wanted to open her own restaurant, as it was a dream they shared. Tiana’s father died in World War I, so he wasn’t present when her journey as a frog began. Aside from that, there are Disney Princesses who aren’t orphans, and here’s every Disney Princess whose parents are alive.
Sleeping Beauty‘s Aurora was the third princess to join the Disney Princess franchise and the first to have both parents alive and well. Because King Stefan and Queen Leah spent years without a child, when Aurora was born they made a huge celebration so their subjects would pay their respects, and at her christening, she was betrothed to Prince Phillip. However, the King and Queen failed to invite Maleficent to the celebration, and when the Queen asked if she was offended, she cursed baby Aurora. In an effort to keep her safe, her parents agreed to send her to a cottage to live with the three good fairies, but she eventually succumbed to the curse. By the end of Sleeping Beauty, Aurora, now free of the curse, reunited with her parents.
Mulan also had both her parents throughout her movie. Her father was the reason for her whole journey, as he was enlisted into the army because he was the only man in their family. Worried about his health, Mulan decided to pose as a man to take his place in the war, and so her parents stayed at their home while she fought for her country. By the end of Mulan, she returned home to her parents.
Rapunzel was the next Disney Princess to have both parents alive through her whole movie, though just like Aurora, she didn’t get to spend much time with them. As she was born with magical, golden hair as a result of a flower with healing properties her mother used when she was ill, Rapunzel was kidnapped by Mother Gothel, whose purpose was to stay young for centuries with the help of the magical properties of the flower and thus Rapunzel’s hair as well. The King and Queen released thousands of sky lanterns each year on Rapunzel’s birthday in hopes that she would see them, but it took years for them to reunite. Rapunzel eventually learned the truth and confronted Mother Gothel, but Eugene cut her hair before she could heal him, showing the true age and appearance of Mother Gothel, causing her to disappear. One of Rapunzel’s tears was powerful enough to heal Eugene, and so he helped her reunite with her parents.
Brave‘s Merida is the daughter of King Fergus and Queen Elinor and older sister to triplets Harris, Hubert, and Hamish. Merida’s relationship with her mother is at the core of the story, as Merida refused to be forced into marriage, and so she gave her mother an enchanted cake that an elderly witch told her would change her fate. The cake turned her mother into a bear, and the only way to revert the spell was to “mend the bond torn by pride” before the second sunrise. Of course, being a Disney movie, Merida eventually realized her mistakes and reconciled with her mother right on time for her to revert to her human form.
The latest character to join the Disney Princess franchise is Moana, the daughter of Motunui’s chief Tui and Sina. Unlike other princesses, Moana’s parents didn’t have a prominent role in the story, but they are alive through her whole journey. Sina tried to keep Moana away from the ocean so she could prepare to become the island’s chief, but when blight stroke the island and killed vegetation while also shrinking the fish catch, Moana left to discover what was happening, and in her journey, she learned that it was all about the goddess Te Fiti, her heart, and a man named Maui. At the end of Moana, she returned home with her parents, becoming the island’s chief and wayfinder.
Next: Why Disney Princesses Can Never Acknowledge Each Other