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Fit For A Prince: A Profile of Disney’s Notable Male Protagonists

Disney Princesses undeniably dominate the movie scene in comparison to many of their supporting male counterparts. Ironically, it is some of these secondary male characters who are the actual royals responsible for bestowing various Disney Princesses with their regal status to begin with. In other instances, you have movies that star a male protagonist who ultimately ends up being outshined by the film’s leading lady. All the same, Disney “Princes” (a title we use just as loosely as we do “Disney Princesses” to describe those heroines who are not necessarily royals) often get overlooked, to say the least. So, we’re paying tribute to them here with a Who’s Who of sorts—a look into Disney Princes and/or important male protagonists in Disney films.

14. Prince Florian

This is the prince who Snow White declares will come (someday) in Disney’s iconic first feature-length animated film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from 1937. While he was never formally given a name in the film, many Disney sources later (including Disney on Ice) have assigned “Florian” as his name. His role in the film is noticeably small, as he only appears once in the beginning and then again at the end, but his presence ends up being significantly life-saving (to say the least). What most fans do not know is that his role was originally intended to be much larger, even featuring a kidnapping and an escape from the Evil Queen. But due to animators having particular difficulty with his creation artistically, the result ended up being an overall reduction in screen time.

Snow White and Prince
Credit: Disney


13. Prince Charming

While given a noticeably larger role and far more character development than the preceding Prince Florian, this suitor and love interest from Disney’s Cinderella (and its sequels) still gets outshined by the title heroine. However, by revealing more details for his character, Disney was able to establish that he is a dashing prince who isn’t full of himself and that he falls in love with the story’s main character despite her less-than-regal background. This says a lot about him as a person, as do his devoted efforts to finding his intended after she flees from the ball. For the most part, we do not often associate any other name sources with Prince Charming besides “Prince Charming.” It’s interesting to note, however, that he is never actually referred to as such in Disney’s original animated adaptation of Cinderella from 1950. This title came along through merchandise branding and later associations with the Prince Charming Regal Carrousel opening at Walt Disney World Resort. Some sources have referred to Prince Charming as “Henry” or “Henri” on occasion, with Disney on Parade from 1971 stating his name to be “Alto August Ferdinand.” Disney’s more recent live-action adaptation of Cinderella from 2015 christened him with the name “Kit.”

Related: Here’s Exactly How To Be Prince Charming From Cinderella For Halloween

12. Prince Phillip

Even though this male figure from Disney’s 1959 animated Sleeping Beauty adaptation is a royal, he proves to have a bit more depth to his character than what’s on the surface. He demonstrates this by falling in love with Princess Aurora without even knowing she is a princess, which is a testament to his true nature. What’s more, he is one of the first outspoken princes in early Disney film classics. Like Prince Florian, his character was originally intended to have a larger storyline in which he was to be captured by the film’s antagonist—Maleficent. Again, this concept was dismissed. Prince Phillip is the first Disney Prince to be given a formal first name. He also appears in both Maleficent and ‘Maleficent: Mistress of Evil’, although two different actors played him, and he appears in the Kingdom Keepers series as well.

Disney Prince
Credit: Disney


11. Arthur

Disney’s animated feature film The Sword in the Stone from 1963 is one of those classics that get largely overlooked in comparison to Disney’s other time-tested classics. But it’s in this film that we get to see a trend-breaking male royal who deviates from all the prior establishments in just about every way imaginable. For starters, we have the character of Arthur—presented as an orphaned boy of undeniably lowly circumstances. Despite it all, he is “chosen” to become the next King of England through enchanted circumstances and his exclusive ability to be able to pull a sword out of a stone, which mysteriously appears following the previous king’s death. Arthur was undoubtedly the most well-developed male royal figure from classic Disney animation at the time, but again, this film goes sadly unnoticed for the most part.

10. Prince Eric

It goes without saying that the titular heroine of Disney’s The Little Mermaid from 1989 is in fact the animated film’s star. But it’s her love interest, the prince, who serves as her primary motivation for making the ultimate decision to “break the surface” and actually become part of the human world that she had only ever dreamed about. The prince here is Prince Eric—another male royal that Disney formally endowed with a first name. And as we’ve seen in the emerging trend along the way, his character has even more depths to his personality than previous princes. He knows his mind and what he is looking for in a wife, despite unwarranted guidance and suggestions.

Prince Eric and Ariel
Credit: Disney

Related: What Disney Princes Look Like In Real Life – Prince Eric


9. The Beast

When Disney’s animated adaption of Beauty and the Beast came about in 1991, it proved to be the first example of an equally balanced presentation between the leading male and leading female in an animated Disney storyline. Its 2017 live-action remake also succeeds in carrying out this mutual focus on both leading characters as well. But while the cursed prince known simply as “the Beast” or “Master” is equally as important to the film as its heroine, Belle, we once again see an example of a prince without an official first name. However, alternate credits and licensing sources have unofficially given his character the name “Prince Adam.” However you choose to refer to him, the fact is that this Disney prince seems to be presented as Disney’s first snobby, egotistical prince thus far. The live-action remake sheds more light on his personal history and influential upbringing in order to explain how he became that way.

Credit: Disney


Related: Want A Different Live-Action Belle in ‘Beauty and the Beast’? We Have The Contenders For The Role


8. Aladdin

This title protagonist from the 1992 animated feature film of the same name is obviously the star. And as the star, the film’s creators gave him some pretty extensive character development that not many other male leads up until that point possessed. While it is true that Aladdin does spend part of the movie as a prince, he is not a noble born into regal circumstances but rather becomes so through the aid of a powerful genie. He does eventually end up becoming a sultan consort though, through his relationship with Princess Jasmine, who has arguably become more popular with Disney fans than Aladdin over the years.

A Whole New World - Aladdin
A Whole New World – Aladdin Credit: Disney


7. Simba

Not all Disney royals are human. Ariel from Disney’s The Little Mermaid leads as an example of this, as she is first and foremost the mermaid daughter of King Triton. But she is not the only non-human Disney royal to come on the scene, as there have been several animal-based royals throughout various Disney films both before and since. And perhaps one of the most recognizable animal royals of all is none other than Simba the lion, the titular protagonist of Disney’s famed classic The Lion King. First presented in animated film format in 1994 and then remade into a CG-realistic film in 2019, Simba is as true a Disney Prince as any of the other “Princes,” even if he happens to be a lion. He was born into a royal title as the son of King Mufasa and goes on to eventually assume his rightful place as ruler over the Pride Lands. And he is arguably one of the most favored male lead examples in any Disney animated movie to date, equally popular with boys and girls alike.

“THE LION KING” (L-R) Simba (voice by Matthew Broderick), Rafiki (voice by Robert Guillaume), Kiara, Nala (voice by Moira Kelly) ©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.


Related: The “Purrfect” List of Disney’s Coolest Cats


6. John Smith

John Smith is no prince by any means, and the only reason for his inclusion on this list of Disney Princes is the fact that he plays a pretty important role as deuteragonist in Disney’s animated adaptation of Pocahontas from 1995.  And when you consider his status as the love interest for the title character, who is elevated to a royal ranking as daughter of the Powhatan Chief, there should be no problem in presenting him with an honorary, unofficial princely status (at least in the first movie). And again, we get to see the perfect example of a well-developed male lead character playing second to the more popular female star—a man who thinks for himself and makes decisions for himself personally, following his own heart despite what he is being conditioned to believe in regards to what’s right, wrong, and what his priorities “should” be.


Related: Fascinating Facts About Disney’s Pocahontas


5. Hercules

In most cases, it may actually be seen as a downgrade to rank a god as a prince, but since we are using the status favorably on account of all the other male protagonists highlighted here, the reference stands. It goes without saying that Hercules is the star of his 1997 animated Disney movie of the same name. And again, we get to see a lot of character development and personality here, including the internal struggles of one who is born into ultimate greatness but who first perceives it all as a weakness that removes him from society norms.

Credit: Disney


4. Tarzan

No, we did not include this title protagonist on the list because of those former fictional rumors that were once floating around about him being the long-lost brother of Elsa and Anna (which Frozen II laid to rest once and for all). Rather, we are adding him here because he is the perfect example of a leading take-charge kind of Disney film star. He does not, at first, exhibit any form of ruling power over the other creatures he lives with in the jungle, and instead he tries to assimilate with them. But eventually (through plot developments and a Phil Collins medley) he reaches his full potential as more of a compatible, coexisting caretaker of sorts instead of an official higher-up ruler. All the same, it’s no mistake that through traditional former presentations or through Disney’s animated 1999 adaptation of the Tarzan story, we all refer to Tarzan as “King of the Jungle.”


Related: Are Anna, Elsa and Tarzan Siblings?


3. Prince Naveen

Until Disney’s The Princess and the Frog came out in 2009, both Disney Princesses and Disney Princes were in short supply for many years. But that all changed when this new yet classically-animated film came out, somewhat renewing Disney’s interest in royals and delivering a second wind that is still going strong. While Tiana is the film’s primary player and the referenced “Princess” that the title refers to, Prince Naveen is the official “Prince,” of the story, born into nobility the traditional way. He is not presented as snobby or pompous in the conventional way, but he is revealed to be naïve and overly privileged at first (though through no fault of his own other than his somewhat sheltered upbringing). All the same, he is likable first for his comedic quirkiness and then for both his love for Tiana and his growing awareness for others.

Credit: Disney


2. Flynn Rider

This leading male of Disney’s 2010 computer-animated Tangled, real name “Eugene Fitzherbert,” is initially as far from a prince as one can get. He is a dashing, unscrupulous, “wanted” man on the run–but despite all of that, he is funny, charming, and likable. He possesses a dynamic personality, but he also adds entertainment to the movie as he unknowingly helps a princess to eventually discover her true identity. He and Rapunzel also have one of the best balances of chemistry between two Disney characters (and they’re one of the most relatable Disney couples). And while we just said he is about as far from being a prince as one can get, the irony is that he does eventually reach his royal ranking as prince consort through marriage to Rapunzel. Flynn’s good character, heroism, kindness, and sense of romance are also demonstrated through Tangled‘s spinoffs and its series!

Tangled
Credit: Disney


Related: 8 Ways to Get Your Tangled Fix at Walt Disney World


1. Kristoff

We could have highlighted Prince Hans here, as he truly is a prince of status in Disney’s Frozen film franchise, but his princely ranking is only crown deep. Kristoff, the unassuming ice carver who just happened to be raised by trolls, is way more of a prince when you look at morals and character. And again, we get to see an excellent build on chemistry between him and Princess Anna throughout the first Frozen film, continuing into Frozen II when they are an established couple and eventually become engaged. This implies that Kristoff too eventually achieves an official royal standing as prince/king consort.

Which Frozen Character Is Your Soul Mate?
Credit: Disney

It’s surprisingly easy to overlook the value and contributions of Disney’s many leading males in light of the more popular Disney Princesses. But as you can see here, there are many vastly dynamic heroes to pay tribute to as well. Disney may have all started with a mouse, but Disney traditions continue to be upheld by its many strong and courageous men, women, and animal figures who have since emerged and continue to serve as key players in the company’s enduring legacy.

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