The term 'princess' may evoke images of tiaras, ballgowns, and stately royal engagements, but in the case of these 10 princesses who are badasses, being a princess means more than just wearing fancy dresses. Standing up for what is right and just while being an all-around amazing individual is the epitome of princess work for these 10 princesses, who are shining examples for young girls of bravery and resilience. Honoring these princesses on Oct. 11, while people around the globe are celebrating the International Day of the Girl to empower young girls to tackle pressing issues facing girls today, just seems all too fitting.
If your daughter is going through a phase where they are just immersed in all things princesses (thanks, Disney) you can rest assured that they are in good company. And if they insist on being called a princess, you can use this opportunity to teach them about the historical, fictional, and even present day princesses who kick ass and take names for the sake of justice and fighting for what they believe in. It might just encourage your princess to take action and pursue fighting for a cause that is important to them and girls all around the world.
1. Tamar of Georgia
The daughter of George III, Tamar of Georgia co-ruled with her father for six years as a princess before battling strong opposition to her taking the throne at age 18 after her father's death, according to Ancient Origins. She overcame the opposition and used her reign to battle the powerful Selijuq Turk empire in the 12th century. She is known as "King Tamar" because she is the only female monarch in Georgian history where the concept of the throne is entirely male, according to Bustle. A uniquely powerful woman in the country's history, she divorced her first husband after the arranged marriage for military purposes did not suit her and banished him, marrying instead a man of her own choosing.
As a child of the nineties, I can say with complete authority that Mulan broke the typical Disney princess mold when she burst onto the scene wielding her father's sword, disguised as a man. This princess acted out of love to protect her sick father and take his place fighting among an army of all men. She literally went to war for her father, breaking all of the rules to do what she knew was right. The Disney princess is reported to be based on Hua Mulan, a Chinese warrior woman in the poem "Ballad of Mulan" who may have actually been a real person living during the Northern and Southern dynasties, according to SyFy Wire. Whether Mulan was a real person or not, her bravery and heroism on behalf of her family is truly admirable.
3. Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex
Although her official title is Duchess, Meghan Markle is married to a prince, so for the purposes of this list of badass princesses, she fits the bill. Groundbreaking is one word that can absolutely be used to describe this incredible woman. As a woman of color, a new mom, and an American and former Hollywood actress married into the British royal family, she carries the spotlight and the hefty weight of criticism with grace that is unmatched. An outspoken feminist, she's an advocate for gender equality and women's rights around the globe, and a princess that girls everywhere can actively look up to.
4. Princess Mirabai
Holding not only the title of princess, but feminist poet and an actual saint, Princess Mirabai was a 16th century badass princess in India who held firmly to her personal religious beliefs. She refused to consummate her marriage to her husband citing her faith in the god Krishna as the reason, whom she openly worshiped despite her family's disapproval, according to Biography Online. She was so despised by her family for her religious beliefs that she was told to throw herself onto her dead husband's funeral fire as a sign of devotion to him instead of Krishna, but she stood strong in her faith and refused. Upon leaving her family, she became a wandering holy woman and bhakti saint, according to Bustle.
Although she may insist that she is not a princess in the movie, as the daughter of her village's chief who travels across raging seas to save her people from the certain doom of an environmental threat, she certainly seems to fit the description of a princess to me. Personally, I would never attempt to sail anywhere alone (let alone across a sea without a map), so the fact that Moana does just that one act makes her ridiculously brave. Moana acts on behalf of her people to help restore their sense of adventure and purpose, as well as preserve their way of life, all while learning to trust herself and her instincts — badass, indeed.
6. Princess Diana
Remembered as the "People's Princess" for her humanitarian efforts, Lady Diana Spencer was once married to Prince Charles, heir to the British throne before their divorce in 1996 and her untimely death in 1997, according to Biography. At one point, the Princess of Whales was linked to more than 100 charities, Time reported, notably championing causes to bring awareness to advocacy against landmines, the HIV/Aids epidemic, dispelling misinformation about leprosy, homelessness, and mental health. As a mother, she seems to have passed her love for philanthropy on to her sons, Princes William and Harry, who now advocate for many of the same causes their mother once did.
7. Rani Lakshmi Bai
India's Rani Lakshmi Bai married a prince at the very young age of 12 in 1842, according to Beyond Science. Shortly after the princess and her husband adopted a son of their own, the prince died, leading to the British who were occupying India at the time to strip Rani Lakshmi Bai of her royal title. After the death of her husband and being forced from the throne, she led an Indian army to battle against the British. Her childhood spent learning archery and sword work as the daughter of an aide to India's Prime Minister served her well as she battled the British with her newly-adopted son strapped to her back. Now that task is something to look up to.
This fictional Scottish princess is the take-no-prisoners protagonist of the Disney film Brave, in which she bucks tradition to indulge her interests in decidedly "non-princess" activities such as archery. The wild, enthusiastic girl that Merida is wants to fulfill her role as a princess in her own way instead of her reign being dictated by her mother's expectations. By being true to herself, Merida exemplifies the characteristics of a princess who knows what she wants and who she wants to be and goes for it despite the role society and tradition has defined for her.
9. Kate Middleton, Duchess of Cambridge
Despite the title of Duchess, the official occupation listed on her son's birth certificate is Princess of the United Kingdom, according to Town and Country. Phenomenal fashion sense aside, Kate Middleton's near-flawless balancing act as a mother, wife, and philanthropist is something that every wannabe princess should aspire to emulate. The mother or three champions causes for children and women, raising awareness about kids' mental health needs and maternal mental health, including an initiative to support the importance of physical and outdoor activity as part of mental and emotional wellness, according to the Royal Family's website.
10. Princess Leia
Although fictional, Princess Leia Organa is most definitely a badass princess. As one of the greatest leaders of the Rebel Alliance, Leia's character morphs over the course of the Star Wars canon from a princess on a mission to a mastermind General who puts up the ultimate fight against her political adversaries. Perpetually caught between light and dark in her own family and in the galaxy, she handles each battle she faces with grace and strength. Her father is Darth Vader and her son is Kylo Ren (I mean, wow.), but she somehow finds the strength to persevere for the good of the universe like only a strong woman can.