As admired as Disney Princesses are among the world and Disney lovers alike, we must admit they might suffer at the hands of some daddy-daughter relationships. Usually, at least one of their parents is dead, and their other one may be having trouble coping…Or they’ve been kidnapped by a fake parent and locked in a tower their whole life…OR they’ve been left to some murderous step-family that they barely escape. The truth is that we’re not even talking about Rapunzel, Snow White, or Cinderella here, even though they definitely go through it.
Think over the struggles of some of your other favorite Disney Princess Daddy’s Girls and tell me they didn’t have a rough time of things!
Disney Princess Daddy’s Girls Have Their Lives Set Out for Them
The Little Mermaid’s Princess Ariel is one of the first iconic Disney characters with a complex relationship with her father, King Triton, which reflects a strong-willed daughter and her loving but overprotective father. Strained due to their differing personalities and conflicting perspectives, Triton’s relationship with his youngest daughter aims to keep her inside a box, shielding Ariel from the dangers of the human world that she so longs to be a part of.
King Triton takes drastic measures when he destroys her cherished collection of human artifacts. It highlights the tension that arises when an overprotective parent clashes with an adventurous and independent child.
Related: My Dad Says These Disney Dads Suck
A similarly stubborn father character, Chief Tui, of 2016’s Moana shares a bond with Moana that is rooted in mutual respect, tradition, and a sense of responsibility for their people. Being the next in line to become the chief, Moana is expected to embrace her role within the community and uphold the traditions set by her father. But like Ariel, Moana longs to explore what’s beyond the shoreline and agitates her father’s fears of the open sea, causing him to forbid her from sailing beyond the reef.
Chief Tui imposes these restrictions to ensure the safety and well-being of their islanders, believing that their way of life should be preserved and protected. Despite their differing perspectives, it is evident that Moana has a deep admiration and respect for her father. Moana is determined to make her father proud by proving she is capable of leading and making a difference in their community, wishing she could be “the perfect daughter.”
Princess Merida, another spirited, independent protagonist of Disney-Pixar’s movie Brave (2012), mostly clashes with her mother, Queen Elinor, over the expectations of a princess. Her father, King Fergus, a brave and boisterous warrior, actually encourages Merida to embrace her adventurous side, teaching her archery and involving her in the wild and rugged activities of their Scottish kingdom, even as a little girl. While this usually would bode well for a normal Daddy’s Girl, this Disney Princess gets trapped by the tradition and responsibility imposed by her mother, who has full influence over her father.
Merida’s fiery spirit and determination push her to rebel against her parents’ wishes, ironically resulting in the destruction of a cherished object like in The Little Mermaid…except with bears. Merida eventually learns her father does not necessarily know best when she witnesses King Fergus’ remorse for his aggressive actions and warlike mindset – almost killing his beloved Elinor in bear form.
But Sometimes the Disney Princess’ Dad is A Total Idiot
Maybe the Disney Princess is lucky enough to have a father who’s emotionally mature enough to love his daughter without exercising limiting boundaries over her…but then he’s a total kook and almost goes too far in the other direction.
Let’s take Belle from Beauty and the Beast (1991), for instance. She has a loving father named Maurice, who admires her intelligence and accepts her individuality despite the strange looks and comments from their village. The only thing is he’s a bit of an unstable oddball himself, creating wild inventions in an unhinged manner that almost forces Belle to be the parent to him. Does Maurice not go bumbling into the forest and wander into the Beast’s castle, leading Belle to sacrifice her freedom for her father’s? Like, I get it, Belle, you’re a Daddy’s Girl, and that man loves you, but what a bummer to be imprisoned in a dank dungeon in your prime because your dad is kind of a mess. Glad everything worked out for you, though. Karma, I guess.
Despite a heaping of more attitude, Princess Jasmine from Aladdin (1992) dealt with a similar situation. Her father, the Sultan, is actually a sweet little guy who seems genuinely concerned about his daughter’s happiness even though she can be a little edgy. Yes, he wants her to marry a prince, but he’s a little messy about the whole ordeal. No wonder he is pretty easily fooled into trusting Jafar and eventually falling under his spell. But before all that, he totally recognizes that Jafar is way too old for Jasmine and even changes the law in the end, allowing Jasmine the right to marry whomever she likes. Too bad he was a total kook beforehand and pretty much caused this whole mess.
Don’t even get me started on Anna and Elsa’s dad from Frozen (2013). King Agnarr demolished both of his daughters’ childhoods by promoting fear and isolation. He isn’t even the fun kind of idiot. He was probably a genuine, loving, and all-around beloved king of a father, but man, he really biffed it with this one. He let his own fears ruin familial relationships for not one “Disney Princess” but two! Then he just goes off and dies. Come on, man. Those girls trusted you!
Sometimes, Disney Princess Daddy’s Girls are Pushed to Sacrifice
Somehow, these first two tropes exist in combination. Both Mulan and Ember from Disney-Pixar’s Elemental (who I know is not a Disney Princess, but bear with me) experience such love and protection from their fathers that they fall into more insidious kookiness. Mulan’s father deeply cares for her but supports her performative efforts to join society in line with tradition, though it is clearly not her thing. Mulan feels responsible for saving her father, who annoyingly agrees to go to war in the name of honor despite his evident physical incapability. So, for the sake of love, his bad choices, and a sacrifice for a sacrifice, she takes his place on the front lines.
Ember similarly sacrifices her own dreams and talents to run a shop that is important to her immigrant father and their cultural legacy. His love for her, paired with his misguided instillation of following in his footsteps, makes her feel obligated to continue his legacy. Even through ailing health, he pressures her to meet his expectations for the shop as if it is the highest honor. Without this, these ladies feel like they can never pass as “a perfect daughter.”
I don’t want to drag Princess Tiana into this because her father, James, seems excellent, and Tiana actually shares his restaurant dreams, but his death fuels her seemingly draining work ethic and need to make their dream a reality. It’s even harder to make a dead person proud… Being a Daddy’s Girl is hard work!
I will say, however, The Princess and the Frog (2009) showcases the only Disney Daddy’s Girl that I think makes off with a pretty sweet deal – and that is Tiana’s manic best friend, Charlotte. Big Daddy spoils that girl!
What do you think of these Disney Princess Daddy’s Girls? It’s pretty rough for them, isn’t it? Even though they do always manage to turn things around…