While the Walt Disney Company and the Disney Princess franchise are both famous American creations, most of the roughly thirteen Disney Princesses aren’t American themselves. Usually, the origin of the fairytale each Princess story is based on determines where they take place. While princesses like Cinderella and Snow White and classic icons popularized by American culture, there are only two American Disney Princesses, and they are people of color.
The Two American Disney Princesses
1 – Pocahontas
The very first American princess in the Walt Disney franchise was Pocahontas, whose animated movie debuted in 1995. Disney’s Pocahontas was an animated fairytale interpretation of the story of a real-life Native American woman who lived during the colonization of Virginia.
The real Pocahontas became famous for her mediations between the English colonists, particularly the settlers at Jamestown, Virginia, and her Powhatan people. She helped bridge the two cultures and allegedly saved the life of John Smith. The Disney Princess character of Pocahontas is based on this historical figure; however, Disney took significant artistic liberties.
In real life, she later married John Rolfe in 1614, converted to Christianity, and traveled with him to England, where she was regarded as a “princess” due to her tribal status. However, her life was cut short as she became ill and died in England in 1617.
2 – Princess Tiana
Princess Tiana’s movie The Princess and the Frog (2009) marked her as the second official American Disney Princess as well as the first black Disney Princess. A hardworking and ambitious young woman, Tiana lives in New Orleans during the 1920s and dreams of owning her own restaurant one day. After transforming into frogs, Tiana and Prince Naveen navigate the mystical bayous of Louisiana with a soundtrack of New Orleans-style jazz.
While the most recognizable origin of “The Frog Prince” comes from the Brothers Grimm 19th century German stories, Disney’s adaptation is decidedly American. Check out here all the American history Imagineers studied in New Orleans, Louisiana to prepare for Princess Tiana’s new ride at Walt Disney World and Disneyland.
What about Moana?
While Moana is Polynesian and could very possibly be from a Hawaiian island, it’s never explicit. Plus, even if it were Hawaii, Moana‘s (2016) story would technically be taking place some 3,000 years before its statehood. So, not quite.
Where All the Other Disney Princesses Are From
Here’s a quick rundown of where all the other Disney Princesses are from:
- Snow White: Germany
- Cinderella: France
- Princess Aurora: France
- Ariel: Denmark
- Belle: France
- Princess Jasmine: Moroccan-inspired
- Mulan: China
- Rapunzel: Germany
- Princess Merida: Scotland
- Anna and Elsa: Norway