->''"Even though the king and queen are totally dead, she still technically calls herself 'Princess'. How does that work? If you're the ruler of a nation, you're a fucking queen."''
-->-- '''WebVideo/TheNostalgiaCritic''', reviewing ''WesternAnimation/FelixTheCatTheMovie''

As it says in EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses, occasionally in fiction, a princess is shown to be the absolute ruler of a realm, despite the fact that, logically, that would make her [[TheHighQueen a queen]]. There could be [[JustifiedTrope a few reasons]] ''why'' she hasn't been crowned queen, such as the realm is explicitly a principality, they are waiting until the princess comes of age (although historically this doesn't usually happen), or the princess is only acting ruler, as regent for an incapacitated monarch, or she's ruling a feudal fiefdom granted by and subordinate to her parents (who are still the reigning monarchs overall). However, in fiction-land, this set-up doesn't usually even get a hand-wave. The ruler just is a princess for [[EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses some inexplicable reason]].

Note: Queens (consort) who are the wives of regnant kings might be referred to as princesses. That does not fit this trope. Nor does [[TheVirginQueen a queen referring to herself]] [[SheIsTheKing as a prince]]. Only a princess ruling as a princess counts.

Contrast GodSaveUsFromTheQueen. Compare PoliticallyActivePrincess.
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!!Examples
[[foldercontrol]]

[[folder: Anime And Manga ]]

* ''Anime/GundamSeedDestiny'': Princess Cagalli might count, though she prefers a different title, and she both averts and plays it straight in the series. Neither changes the fact that she's a princess and the highest official in her nation.
* Princess Adina (Mokuba's virtual OppositeSexClone), ruler of Simlow in the virtual world in ''Anime/YuGiOh''
* In ''Anime/ElHazardTheMagnificentWorld'', Princess Rune Venus and Fatora seem to be the co-rulers of Roshtaria (though it's uncertain how much political power Fatora holds).
* In ''Manga/MagicKnightRayearth'', the Pillar of Cephiro is named Princess Emeraude. Curiously, her younger brother is Prince Ferio. So there may be something else in addition to being Pillar, like a royal family with titles.
* Cornelia and Euphemia of ''Anime/CodeGeass'' both reign as Viceroys of Area 11 on behalf of their father, the Emperor, and it's shown that they're given pretty broad authority to rule as they see fit. [[spoiler:In the second series, Nunally also briefly becomes one, at least until Lelouch's rebellion finally succeeds. And averted in the finale, as Nunally is elevated to the rank of Empress [[FridgeLogic despite being near the bottom of the line of succession]].]]
* In ''Manga/SaintSeiya'', Polaris Hilda in Asgard saga is called princess in many foreigners dubbing, although she's an orphan and the official monarch of Asgard.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Comic Books ]]

* Plourr Illo of the ''Comicbook/XWingSeries'' is revealed to be the [[KingIncognito last, lost princess]] of her homeworld, the rest of her family being dead. At the end of ''Warrior Princess'' she is acclaimed as Empress Apparent-Heir - but in later comics she's called Princess or Princess of the Realm.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Film ]]

* The Princess of Alamut from the ''Film/PrinceOfPersiaTheSandsOfTime'' film.
* In ''Film/TheLastAirbender'' the voiceover explicitly states that the Northern Water Tribe is ruled by a princess because her father was killed. In the [[WesternAnimation/AvatarTheLastAirbender original series]] her father, Chief Arnook, was alive and ruling himself.
* Princess Oriana in ''WesternAnimation/FelixTheCatTheMovie'' (see page quote.)
* ''Disney/WreckItRalph'' appears to intentionally invoke this trope with the world of the Sugar Rush game being ruled by [[spoiler:Princess Vanellope]]. It doesn't last long, though, as [[spoiler:she decides she would rather be president instead.]]
* A RareMaleExample may be Prince Eric of ''Disney/TheLittleMermaid''. His parents are never shown, but he's still called Prince. In the musical, it's actually stated that he's still a Prince because he was out sailing when his father died and just hasn't been crowned King, but in the movie, he's a ruling prince for no stated reason. Unless his nation is a principality, in which case "Prince" would be the highest possible rank.
* Averted with ''Disney/{{Frozen}}''. When Elsa comes of age near the beginning of the movie, she has her coronation, since the story is loosely based on The Snow ''Queen''.
* Subverted with [[RidiculouslyCuteCritter Unikitty]], princess of CloudCuckooland from ''WesternAnimation/TheLEGOMovie''. While she is the host for travelers to her country, she also states that it doesn't actually have any government or even rules.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Literature ]]

* Princess Ozma from the [[Literature/LandOfOz Oz]] books.
** There's no consistent title for the ruler of Oz, so this could actually mean that she's a princess as a ''fairy'' rather than a princess of ''Oz''. We don't see enough of other fairies to be sure.
** Princess Langwidere from ''Ozma of Oz'' is a justified example, as she is only acting ruler until the return of the Royal Family.
* Princess Jenna from the ''Literature/SeptimusHeap'' series. She will, however, become queen. When the Time is Right.
* [[PlayingWithATrope Played with]] in the ''WheelOfTime'' when Elayne effectively rules Caemlyn (the capital city) for several months as Daughter-Heir (the term princess exists, but is considered old-fashioned). This happens because there's a conflict over who should be Queen.
* Gender-flipped with the lands of Emerald and Corisande in the ''{{Safehold}}'' series. The countries are ruled by their princes, however they are also specifically referred to as ''Prince''doms, not kingdoms.
* Princess Desmia in ''Palace of Mirrors,'' although she is a mere figurehead. By the end of the book, the kingdom is ruled by [[spoiler:a council of ''thirteen'' princesses, all of whom have equal right to rule.]]
* For some never explained reason the monarch of the Fomalhaut system in Edmund Hamilton's ''The Star Kings'' is 'Princess' Lianna.
* In the later ''BlackCompany'' books, the FantasyCounterPartCulture version of India is ruled by a prince. (At some point in the distant past, it was part of a now-defunct much larger empire.)
* The Princes of Gwyneth (a Wales [[FantasyCounterpartCulture expy]]) in TalesOfTheBranionRealm are commonly female due to GenderIsNoObject and SheIsTheKing. For part of the series Gwyneth is independent and has eight Princes at any one time.
* The Rhoynar, including the ruling family of Dorne, are late additions to Westeros in ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' compared to the Andals and the First Men, and continue to style their rulers "Princes" after the fashion of their original homeland in Essos. They were allowed to continue this tradition, as well as that of absolute primogeniture (the eldest child inherits regardless of gender), upon joining the Seven Kingdoms by marriage. It is therefore entirely possible, and presumably even common, in Dorne for a princess to rule in her own right, although as there has not yet been a ruling princess in-story, it's unclear whether she would continue to be called "princess" after coronation or styled [[SheIsTheKing "prince"]].
* Princess Glisselda becomes acting monarch and regent in {{Literature/Seraphina}} after her grandmother becomes incapacitated.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Live Action Television ]]

* This would seem to be the case with Princess Mithian from ''Series/{{Merlin}}''. She arrives in Camelot for an ArrangedMarriage to KingArthur, with no sign or mention of either parent. When Arthur breaks off the engagement because he's still in love with Guinevere, he gives her full rights to the lands that were in dispute between their kingdoms, at which point Mithian says: "I would give up ''my own'' kingdom to be so loved." Presumably, she's the ruler of her own kingdom, but is still refered to as a princess.
** When she returns to the show in series 5, her background is expanded on and it's revealed that she had a father the whole time. However, the example still stands, as when she first appeared the writers had no plans to bring her back again, nor gave any indication of her parentage. For that one episode at least, she was a straight example of this trope.
* ''Series/OnceUponATime'': Snow White and Prince Charming are the rulers of their kingdom but are not referred to as king and queen.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Theatre ]]

* The male variation of this trope is featured in ''Emilia Galotti'' by [[DichterAndDenker Gotthold Ephraim Lessing]]. The antagonist, Prince Hettore Gonzaga is the king and regent of Guastalla in all but the title. Lessing probably did that to avert any obvious parallels to the regents of ''his'' time (the piece, albeit set in renaissance Italy, was a warily subtle commentary on the corrupted politics of the then-contemporary 18th century [[AllTheLittleGermanies German states]]).

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Music ]]

* Riliane in [[Music/{{Mothy}} Mothy's]] [[Franchise/EvilliousChronicles Story of Evil]] series is queen of her country but chooses to be called Princess, out of respect for her late mother. She's not [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen a particularly ''good'' ruler]], though...

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Video Games ]]

* Princess Peach in many of the ''Franchise/SuperMarioBros'' games. [[VideoGame/SuperMarioBros1 The original game's]] English-language instruction manual referred to her as the daughter of the Mushroom King, but [[WhatHappenedToTheMouse the games never mention him again after that]].
** There are also the Shroobs from ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiPartnersInTime'', who have a Princess Shroob but no King Shroob or Queen Shroob. [[spoiler:She even has an older sister who is ''also'' a princess rather than queen.]]
** Prince Dreambert of ''VideoGame/MarioAndLuigiDreamTeam'' is a male example. He is shown to be the leader of the Pi'illos, yet his domain is called the Pi'illo Kingdom, not the Pi'illo Principality.
* Princess Zelda in some, but not all ''Franchise/TheLegendOfZelda'' games and adaptations, notably ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkToThePast A Link to the Past]]'' and ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZelda Ocarina of Time]]'' (the king gets killed and Zelda must hide from the BigBad), as well as ''[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess Twilight Princess]]'' ([[AllThereInTheManual supplementary material]] says she was about to be crowned queen before everything started going to hell). The ''VideoGame/SuperSmashBrosBrawl'' manual also refers to her as "queen", for what it is worth.
** Which makes [[spoiler:Midna, the titular "[[VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTwilightPrincess Twilight Princess]]"]] an example as well.
** Other instances of Zelda don't have her rule anything, particularly ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaTheWindWaker''. There she's just [[spoiler:the descendant of an earlier Princess Zelda and what ''would'' be her kingdom is frozen in time beneath the seas. She doesn't actually become any sort of monarch until after ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaPhantomHourglass''.]]
** ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaSkywardSword'' also deserves mention, as Zelda in that game is a normal girl attending school with Link...although she is the headmaster's daughter, there is no royalty to speak of in Skyloft.
** Princess Hilda of ''VideoGame/TheLegendOfZeldaALinkBetweenWorlds'' is portrayed as the [[DarkWorld Lorulean]] counterpart to Zelda, and is appropriately also the ruler of her kingdom.
* Princess Gutrune of ''VideoGame/EtrianOdyssey III: The Drowned City''. In her case, it's stated by locals that the Senatus is seen as holding all the ''real'' power, particularly Senator Flowdia, while Gutrune is seen as a pretty figurehead.
* The hierarcy of the Aristocrat Club in ''RuleOfRose'' ends in the Rose Princess, which is justified considering that these are young girls playing a long-winded game - obviously Princess sounds better to them than a Queen.
* Due to her fathers insanity, Hilde is this for her nation in ''SoulCalibur IV''. She's technically regent, however, not the monarch.
* Imperial Princess Arlier, the leader of the Tiamat race in ''KnightsInTheNightmare''.
* Discussed in ''YggdraUnion''. Princess Yggdra is the de facto leader of her nation throughout the game, as her parents were both killed in battle with Gulcasa before the narrative actually begins. In all the excitement of getting her throne back (and then rescuing her from the aftereffects of a momentary IdiotBall catch), there just hasn't been time for her to be crowned, and when this is brought up even Yggdra herself is rather nonplussed about it. She officially becomes Queen a little bit later, but personally refuses to accept the title until the war is over--probably for the same inexplicable reasons listed above.
* [[Videogame/SonicTheHedgehog2006 Soleanna]] is a duchy, and Princess Elise's father is referred to as the Duke of Soleanna. Elise, despite being the ruling monarch, is referred to as Duchess precisely once. [[DubInducedPlothole In the Japanese dialogue]].
* Until the ending [[EverythingTryingToKillYou (if you live that long)]] Elodie of ''[[VisualNovel/LongLiveTheQueen Long Live The Queen]]'' is titled Crown Princess, as she isn't quite old enough to legally take the throne. Since it's only a few months and everyone knows she ''will'' be Queen very shortly, most of the time it makes no difference.
* Averted in Fallout3, where the children of Little Lamplight reject the reign of Angela, who proclaims herself a princess after being elected mayor and is removed after only five minutes.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Webcomics ]]

* Webcomic/PrincessPi rules the kingdom of Piscataway, keeping her princess title even though her late mother, Queen Isosceles, did not. Pi's BigBad, Princess Ip of America, refers to herself as a princess despite actually ruling as a dictator.

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Western Animation ]]

* Princess Bubblegum from ''WesternAnimation/AdventureTime.''
** Most of the other princesses seem to be this way, too (as we see a huge gathering of them discussing political matters). Lumpy Space Princess seems to be an [[AvertedTrope aversion]], though, since we actually see her parents.
** Interestingly, a tie-in comic about time travel shows her as "Queen Bubblegum" in the future. What exactly causes this change of title is uncertain.
** As of "Earth & Water", [[spoiler:Flame Princess has usurped her father and taken up his Kingdom. She takes [[SheIsTheKing her father's title]] to signify her claim to the throne.]]
** In "Apple Wedding", we meet someone who claims to be the King of Ooo but he acts more like a cult leader than a monarch and his authority seems to be recognized only by his followers.
* Princess Starglo from ''CareBears: Share Bear Shines'' is described as "the mother of all stars," yet is only a princess [[EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses for some reason]].
* Princess Celestia and Princess Luna from ''WesternAnimation/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagic'' are the rulers of Equestria (the first by day, the second by night), with no attempt to lampshade Equestria as a principality. (WordOfGod says this is due to ExecutiveMeddling: little girls think princesses are good but [[GodSaveUsFromTheQueen queens are evil]].) This is also an ExaggeratedTrope since their power is close to that of deities, and their responsibilites include keeping the sun and moon rising and setting.
** Just to hit that point home, the [[VoluntaryShapeshifting shape-shifting]], [[EmotionEater love-eating]] villain of the Season 2 finale is known as ''Queen'' Chrysalis.
** The season 2 finale also introduces Princess Cadance, who retains her title when she becomes the ruler (possibly the regent?) of the Crystal Empire in season 3.
** The Season 3 finale ''[[{{Recap/MyLittlePonyFriendshipIsMagicS3E13MagicalMysteryCure}} Magical Mystery Cure]]'' finally explains this in-universe. The princesses aren't from a bloodline, they're chosen due to their talents. [[spoiler:Like Twilight at the end of the episode.]]
* Princess Berrykin from ''StrawberryShortcake's Berry Bitty Adventures''.
* Princess Candy from ''WesternAnimation/DaveTheBarbarian'' is ruling Udrogoth until her parents come back from destroying all the evil in the world.
* Played with in ''WesternAnimation/CaptainNTheGameMaster''. Princess Lana is the only ruler in Videoland, but her father is still alive, he's just trapped in another dimension.
* Similarly, Princess Sally from the ''WesternAnimation/SonicSatAM'' series would be ruler if Robotnik hadn't taken over. Instead, she leads the resistance movement.
* In ''MickeyDonaldGoofyTheThreeMusketeers'', Minnie is cast in the role of Princess Minnie. Despite this, she's pretty much queen in every other aspect.
* Despite the heavy use of EverythingsBetterWithPrincesses, this trope is averted by the {{Disney Princess}}es, as none of them are actually in a ruling capacity, except for [[AtlantisTheLostEmpire Kida]], who appropriately becomes a [[TheHighQueen queen]] at the end of her film. However, the franchise may have contributed to the trope's perpetuation, through films like ''Disney/SnowWhiteAndTheSevenDwarfs'' that could cause one to perceive queens as [[GodSaveUsFromtheQueen "evil"]], and princesses as "[[PrincessClassic good]]".
** [[Disney/TheLittleMermaid Ariel]], like Kida, becomes queen as shown in ''The Little Mermaid 2''.
** [[Disney/{{Aladdin}} Prince Uncouthma of Odiferous]] rules his people and there's no mention of a King or a Queen.
** In ''{{Frozen}}'', Elsa (the older sister) does become queen, while her younger sister remains a princess.
* Graciela the fairy princess in ''WesternAnimation/BarbieAFairySecret''.
* In ''WesternAnimation/{{Gawayn}}'', Princess Gwendolyn is portrayed as the rightful ruler of her kingdom. Her parents have never even been seen or mentioned...

[[/folder]]

[[folder: Real Life ]]

* This could become the case for Wales, which is a principality. Should the future heir apparent of the United Kingdom (the traditional ruler of Wales) be a girl then they will officially be the "Princess Of Wales." (Note that Diana wasn't an example, since she was princess by virtue of being married to the Prince of Wales rather that actually holding authority. Neither was the present Queen, before the death of her father; since Great Britain practiced male-preference primogeniture[[note]]Eldest male descendant of the current title holder is considered the heir, even if he has older sisters[[/note]], she was only heiress presumptive, and thus ineligible to hold the title.)
** Not quite. The title of "Princess of Wales" is retained exclusively for the use of the wife of the Prince of Wales. When Queen Elizabeth II was accepted as heiress presumptive to her father, the possibility of making her Princess of Wales in her own right was considered, and was discarded ''because'' it is strictly a courtesy title. TheOtherWiki explains it [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_of_wales here]].
* This was historically a perfectly accurate description of the title "prince". It was often just used as a general term referring to a ruler (i.e. Machiavelli's ''ThePrince''), and did not specify their actual rank or even their system of government. Any ruling individual was a "Prince". Given that female rulers are far more common nowadays (and were tentatively accepted in certain cases in other societies), that means that there are many "Princesses" who rule today, from Queens Regnant to female Presidents or Prime Ministers (although the male/gender neutral term "Prince" might be ''technically'' more appropriate). This concept can easily explain female ruling princesses seen in this trope, at least the historical fictional examples.
** There are actual principalities amongst some of the smaller states of Europe (such as Monaco and Lichtenstein) whose head of state is referred to (or translated as, in Lichtenstein's case) as "Prince", instead of another title like "King", so it would be reasonable that any female inheriting the position would, if possible, be referred to as "Princess".
*** In German, the term "Fürst" is used for the reigning monarch ("Fürstin" being the female version), while "Prinz"/"Prinzessin" refer to the children of monarchs. Thus, no ambiguity between the two positions exists in German-speaking Lichtenstein. In French-speaking Monoco, on the other hand, both the reigning monarch and children of the monarch are referred to as Prince/Princess. The term "Prince Souverain" ("Sovereign Prince") is used to clarify things. Or Sovereign Princess in one case, because unlike Lichtenstein [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louise_Hippolyte,_Princess_of_Monaco there has actually been a reigning Princess of Monaco]].
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