are always pretty. They always meet good-hearted people who help
damsels in distress. Their princes always arrive in the nick of time.
They live happily ever after.
have to deal with tragedy just like anyone else. Princess Diana and
Princess Grace Kelly died in car accidents. Their marriages do not last
forever. Princess Diana get divorced. Kate Middleton waited a decade to
marry Prince William. They face scrutiny and criticism and have to be on
their best behavior all the time. They are constantly chased by the
Every little girl wants to be a princess, and in the World of Disney, there are 10 role models to choose from. Gan Tian goes to London to meet the latest royalty in the series.
Eight-year-old Chi Xiuming, together with another 99 girls from 25 countries and regions, joined a special "princess crowning" party in Kensington Palace, London, recently. The young lady got the chance to talk to the new princess. The latest royal Chi spoke to, however, was not Kate Middleton, but a character from a fairytale. Rapunzel, with those long, long locks, is the latest Disney princess, the heroine in the cartoon movie, Tangled.
Like so many young Chinese girls born and raised after 1990s, little Xiuming is familiar with all the Disney princesses, based on the animated movies and the resulting franchises and merchandising.
That may explain why, in China, it is the Disney Princess products, rather than Barbie dolls, that top the lifestyle branding for dolls and role play among girls aged 2 to 5.
Xiuming says she has one Barbie doll, but her entire bedroom is decorated with characters from the Disney cartoon Beauty and the Beast, including bed-sheets, pillows, and curtains, because "Princess Belle furnishes her bedroom this way".
According to Disney, the top core categories under the Princess branding include jewelry, apparel, school stationary, bedding and home textiles, role-play and dress-up dolls. Total retail sales in China achieved $12.9 million in 2011, and the number is still rising.
Older girls are equally enchanted with the princess dreams.
In Beijing, bride-to-be Zhang Jinzhu is busy preparing for her wedding in January, and she's shopping for a wedding dress from US bridal gown label Alfred Angelo.
The dress she happened to find online is made from very delicate and light fabric that is worn over a small crinoline flared out at the hem. The label says the gown comes from the latest collection inspired by the princesses in Disney cartoons.
"Now all you need is a prince charming." When Zhang read the tagline, she was sold.
Though "princess culture" is not deeply rooted in Chinese tradition, Chinese women, like others around the world, all have their princess dreams. Those born before 1980 have fantasies fuelled by what they read from history books and the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen and The Brothers Grimm.
But those born after the economic reforms in the 80s are exposed to the Disney cartoons, and they read news about the real princesses of the world such as Princess Diana and Princess Grace Kelly, flesh-and-blood celebrities who added to the "princess" mystique.
The latest royal wedding - between Prince William and Kate Middleton in April this year - also inspired many young Chinese women, like the 28-year-old Zhang. She eagerly followed the live telecast on the Internet and launched a blog discussing the bride's fashion style, palace abode and lifestyle.
"That is my dream from childhood," Zhang says.
Princesses, whether they be reel or real, project the image of romance and the happily-ever-after, and for the bright-eyed and starry-eyed at least, the day dreams go on.
Incidentally, the most popular Disney Princess in China is Snow White, followed by Little Mermaid Ariel and Cinderella.