Miss INDEPENDENT! Ranking the Most Independent Disney Princesses

in Disney, Movies, Theme Parks

While the Walt Disney animation franchise may have all started with a mouse, things got really serious when a Disney Princess came into the mix. That’s right, I’m talking about the 1938 release of Walt Disney’s masterpiece, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. 

Crowds were enthralled with this kind, sweet, and dainty Disney Princess. Sure, Princess Snow White may be soft-spoken, but she won hearts across America as she escaped the Evil queen and paved the way for the Disney franchise that we know and love today.

These days, there is talk about the messaging of princess culture and its implications. Some critics worry princess culture could have damaging messaging for young children. Lucky for us, Disney animation has also brought to life plenty of spunky, spirited, and independent Disney Princesses over the years. We’ve ranked the independence level of each of the 13 official Disney Princesses. Do you agree with this list?


Mulan as Ping rides her horse Khan, with Chinese army behind her
Credit: Disney

A beautiful woman that goes to war in disguise to save her father takes the prize for the most independent and bravest Disney Princess. Mulan tops this Disney Princess list as the most independent of the leading ladies of Disney. This Disney Princess movie was released in 1998 and was a great role model for girls growing up in the Disney Renaissance.


waitress tiana holding plates in the princess and the frog
Credit: Disney

An aspiring female business owner that rises from poverty and never lets go of her dream, what’s not to love!? Tiana is the picture of independence as she strives for her own place in the New Orleans French Quarter in the movie, The Princess and the Frog.


gramma tala moana
Credit: Disney

Moana is an incredibly brave and independent Wayfinder that hops on a sailing rig and braves the open sea to restore the heart of Te Fiti. Such a daring adventure sounds super scary to me, so I want to rate this leading lady high on independence!


raya and the last dragon
Credit: Disney

The newest of the Disney Princesses is Raya, from Raya and the Last Dragon. Raya is the Guardian of the Dragon and is a resilient warrior that is tough and brave. Raya ranks high on the independence scale.


Pocahontas (1995)
Credit: Disney

This Disney Princess movie was my favorite as a kid. Pocahontas serves as the intermediary between the colonist and the Powhatan people in the 1995 animated film Pocahontas. The independence and bravery displayed when Pocahontas brokers the life of John Smith during the execution scene is a heavy Disney moment that earns her spot on this independent Disney Princess list.


Credit: Disney

Refusing to comply with forced marriage is brave (no pun intended), but stepping up to the plate to compete for your own hand in marriage is even cooler! Merida is one of the most independent and cool Princesses on the list. While Merida is not a new Disney Princess by any means, she is the only Disney Pixar Princess and is on the newer side with the blockbuster movie Brave, having been released in 2012.


Credit: Disney

Princess Jasmine was a spirited lady in the original Disney animation from the 1992 movie and became even more headstrong, intelligent, and admired in the live action remake of this movie. Princess Jasmine fully believes that she can run the kingdom without the help of a Prince, and we don’t blame her.


Belle (Paige O'Hara) and Beast (Robby Benson) in 'Beauty and the Beast'
Credit: Disney

I love a headstrong woman that doesn’t settle. Belle would rather enjoy her days, engrossed in a good book than pay attention to Gaston. Belle has an independent streak and is unafraid to speak her mind and stand up for those she loves.


Rapunzel uses her hair to escape her tower
Credit: Disney

Rapunzel may have a few regrets after leaving her tower with Flynn Rider, but overall this is still an independent choice, that we admire. This Disney Princess movie focuses on Rapunzel’s magical hair that has left her locked away by deceitful Mother Gothel. Breaking out of her tower is a super independent move.


ariel smiles at a dinglehopper little mermaid
Credit: Disney

Trading her voice for a chance at love is not a very independent move. Ariel still throws cautious caution to the wind and goes against the status quo to follow her heart to meet Prince Eric in The Little Mermaid. While she definitely does have an independent streak, Ariel is further down the list.


Cinderella's dress sparkles as it transforms
Credit: Disney

This next leading lady has her own Fairy Godmother! Cinderella is kind, loving, and a friend to animals but not very independent. We love her sweet spirit and beautiful singing voice, but she ranks at the bottom of the list of independent Princesses.


Credit: Disney

Another classic Disney animation picture, Sleeping Beauty, features Princess Aurora, also known as Briar Rose, Princess Aurora ranks pretty low on the independence scale. I love Sleeping Beauty and the beautiful animation in this film, but we certainly don’t see a very spirited Disney Princess as the protagonist in this movie.

Snow White

Snow White at the Well - 'Snow White' (1937)
Credit: Disney

While we must pay homage to the Princess that started it all, Snow White does have to rank at the bottom of the independence list as she was largely reactionary in her animated film. This is to be expected and reflects the time in which this film was made. Don’t worry, Snow White; we still love you!


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♬ Wildest Dreams – Duomo

Do you agree with this ranking of the most independent Disney Princesses? Better yet, which of these Disney movie characters will you meet on your next Walt Disney World vacation?

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