Disney princesses have been evolving in recent years. With Elsa's powerful solidarity and Merida's rebellious notions, the new wave of contemporary Disney princesses is teaching young girls about emotional dexterity. Gone are the days where Disney females play the role of damsel in distress in hopes that a charming, handsome prince will come to save them.
Still, it's hard to ignore the memories that previous princesses have brought Disney fans, and it's not as if Disney has ruled out character romances altogether. Tiana and Anna have shown small boys and girls more realistic and healthy relationships while still possessing that classic Disney magic. To get a better grasp of these spectacular changes, it's worth taking a glimpse at Disney princesses new and old and how their relationship has grown. So, here is every Disney princess couple, ranked.
11 Snow White and Prince
Snow White came out in 1937, so it's hard to condemn them for presenting such a wayward pairing. Besides, the bulk of Snow White's story actually revolves around her relations to the seven dwarfs. But, even these encounters present less than ideal traits, as the princess seems to have an unwavering happy attitude. Which seems odd considering she has to take care of seven men, one of which is always grumpy. And, on top of that, a random guy shows up, kisses her, and the two literally run off into the sunset together. This type of arbitrary relationship doesn't have much to teach children today.
10 Aurora and Phillip
Literally the only reason that these two get together is because their fathers are best friends and they want to unite their kingdoms. In fact, they are bound together at their christening, well before either one of them could have a say in the matter. They meet again as teenagers and instantly fall in love thanks to Disney fantasy.
This love isn't deterred from the fact that Maleficent curses the princess to sleep forever. Through various obstacles, Prince Phillip comes to awaken the sleeping beauty with a kiss, and they live happily ever after. It's simply not a fairy tale that entices the imagination of young minds today.
9 Cinderella and Prince Charming
While Cinderella's journey has more depth and struggles to it, her relationship with Prince Charming still leaves little to be desired. The relationship itself idealizes money and beauty over an actual intellectual affinity. It may seem that Cinderella's main objective to go to the ball is simply to escape, but you can't ignore the fact that she perks up at the mention of the prince wanting to find an eligible female. Then it's love at first sight for both of them, which entirely defines a Disney love story. The story would have done better to just focus on Cinderella's family issues and take out the prince altogether. But thankfully, Disney has done better in recent adaptations.
8 Ariel and Prince Eric
The Little Mermaid came out in 1989, giving Disney creators plenty of time to take a step back and examine the dynamics between Disney princesses and their suitors. But for some reason, Ariel and Prince Eric's love story still falls short. It follows the same pathways of unrealistic expectations and love at first sight. Ariel is willing to disobey her father and give up her entire family because she sees a handsome man on the shore. And at 16 years old!
Disney ends up putting a bit of a spin on it, making Ariel the rescuer at one point and Eric being a man in distress. It's hard not to love these two together, but the pairing still makes little sense, no matter how charming it may be.
7 Belle and Beast
Belle and the Beast's relationship is frequently called into question. Some people believe that the tale of Beauty and the Beast romanticizes domestic abuse and Stockholm Syndrome. This is a bit of a stretch considering its components are clearly fantasy-driven (talking teacups, a witch's curse, etc).
Besides, Belle's role in the Disney classic is certainly a step up from her predecessors. Finally, we have a princess whose goal is not to get married, but to learn, grow, and indulge in "adventure in the great wild somewhere." Belle shows restraint, skepticism, and eventually acceptance, which are all endearing traits despite Belle and the Beast's rocky start.
6 Pocahontas and John Smith
It's hard to put this one into perspective considering it's derived from a moment in U.S. history. Naturally, Disney romanticizes this couple and the story plays out a lot differently than the non-fictional story. At least it's a different approach than the atypical "love at first sight' notion.
Pocahontas shows doubt in getting married and again sees the joys in exploration and being independent. Her relationship with John Smith shows her struggling to trust him and him opening his mind to her way of life. It's a give and give relationship, and the only thing they take from each other is knowledge and acceptance to one another's culture.
5 Jasmine and Aladdin
Jasmine isn't the main protagonist in this Disney tale, but with the amount of moxie she shows, it wouldn't be hard to flip things around. Jasmine is far from an entitled princess and wants nothing to do with marriage. She presents her individuality with grace and it doesn't slow down just because she meets Aladdin. Their initial meeting is a genuine encounter, and she still shows contempt when meeting him as Prince Ali.
After their magic carpet ride, she starts to relent, realizing that she can have the best of both worlds. Sure, Aladdin is lying to her the entire time, but when she realizes this, Jasmine is more irritated about the act rather than the fact that he isn't an actual prince.
4 Tiana and Prince Naveen
Both of these characters show a lot of growth. Especially since the story of the Princess and the Frog takes place in the 1920s, before even Snow White's time. Prince Naveen shows immense egotism, which is why he earns his place as a frog. Tiana has her own struggles as she tries to scrape enough money together to own a restaurant. However, her own lies and need for money find her in the same predicament as Naveen.
The two quarrel throughout their journey. What's most telling about this couple, however, is the fact that they become better people by being with each other, and we love the fact that the love-at-first-site trope is thrown out the window.
3 Mulan and Shang
Mulan and Shang's relationship starts off as platonic. After all, Mulan is under the guise of a warrior. Mulan starts to develop feelings for him once she sees his softer side and realizes the hardships he must go through as captain of a Chinese army. Likewise, Shang takes a liking to "Ping" as he shows aptitude and strength. These features become even more impressive when Ping is revealed to be a woman. Shang is initially hurt and humiliated by this secret and dismisses Mulan's ability to continue to fight. He eventually comes around and the two fight side by side against Shan Yu.
The fact that Disney put their romantic relationship on the back burner in order to highlight the plot of the story is an initial sign that they started to rethink their Disney princess couples. Still, it was nice to see these two form some kind of romantic bond by the end of the film.
2 Rapunzel and Flynn
Rapunzel and Flynn have an unprecedented meeting after Rapunzel takes the lead and demands the former criminal to take her to the floating lanterns. They learn a lot about each other through their journey, eventually leading them to fall for each other.
It's not an easy road, but, like The Princess and the Frog, these two grow from their interactions together. They take turns rescuing each other, with Rapunzel eventually making the ultimate sacrifice to forgo her magic in order to save Flynn.
1 Anna and Kristoff
Anna and Kristoff are the archetypes of modern relationships. Disney didn't try to hide their advancement and even poke fun at past Disney princess couples. Anna initially falls for Prince Hans—in typical Disney fashion—until it becomes apparent that he's the villain in the story. Through her journey to find her sister, Anna falls for Kristoff in a much more realistic timeline. They challenge each other in the best ways possible, and their relationship doesn't subtract from the general message of Frozen's story. It's this denounced relationship that makes them one of Disney's most influential couples.