Rory: Well, when I was four...
Emily: You look like a princess.
Little girls love princesses. If you ever meet a girl who's in preschool or kindergarten, she will probably have a fairy tale princess's attitude making her anywhere between a gracious but breakable cutie to a Tiny Tyrannical Girl who might feel entitled to a pony. Bonus points if she is a fan of the Disney Princesses.
She is or acts like she's seven years old at the most. Princesses Prefer Pink so that's probably her favorite color. She'll imagine herself as a pretty princess or pretend to be a princess bride. Her court will consist of stuffed animals and dolls. She might want a Prince Charming by her side as long as she still gets to be her Daddy's Girl, looking up to him as if he's a king. To emphasize this concept she might have a Sweet Tooth because Real Men Hate Sugar.
While somewhat rare, it can happen with little boys, but in a different way. At around the time they learn the differences between genders, they may have an infatuation with femininity and look at girls differently than before. In short, they may be more likely to have a crush on princesses during their phase.
If early childhood isn't specifically mentioned it might fall under Princess for a Day.
This trope is so strongly associated with childhood that a teenage or adult woman still clinging to this attitude cannot but come across as childish. Still, even those who grow out of it will still cling to a wistful shred or two: a taste for romance and a Prince Charming, or a pretty gown they twirl around in when no one is watching. The wedding industry in particular is built around letting women be a "princess" for a day. The prominence of this trope in real life is likely why so many works have a Princess Protagonist or have a Gratuitous Princess inserted.
- Thoroughly subverted in a commercial for the Toyota Rav 4. A genie gives a little girl a wish, and she chooses to be a princess. She immediately becomes — a Princess Classic? No, she's armor-clad, riding a warhorse, and leading her army into battle.
- Harshly deconstructed by Rosemary Applefield in Ashita no Nadja. As a little girl, Rosemary pretended she was a princess to cope with growing up in an orphanage. However, by the time she's thirteen, the imaginary world where she's lost royalty waiting for a prince to take her away to her castle is the only world she can stand to live in. When Rosemary learns her old friend Nadja is the real heiress, her waning sanity takes a nosedive and she plots to usurp Nadja's identity, whatever the cost.
- Marika from Bokura no Hentai is a trans girl who expressed herself at home by pretending to be a princess. In middle school, she begins doubting herself as a princess when male puberty hits and her sexuality awakens.
- Haruka Haruno from Go! Princess Pretty Cure has this as a defining characteristic. It gets her no end of scorn from peers who look down on her dream as childish. Twilight in particular, who is an actual princess, doesn't respect Haruka for that.
- Yotsuba from Yotsuba&! starts to go through one in chapter 93, when she sees a picture of Cinderella in a picture book. After confirming with her father that princesses are in fact real, she decides to become a princess herself and dresses up accordingly.
- Barbie: Princess Charm School: Emily is so firmly in the phase that, being too young to register in the princess school, she did it for her big sister instead.
- Scarlet Overkill from Minions apparently grew up unloved and thought that becoming a princess or queen would make up for that. Years later, she's still stuck in that phase. She achieved success and infamy as a supervillain, but she still has her heart set on being crowned. In preparation for her coronation, she demands that the dressmaker copy the princess drawing she made as a five-year-old and blows him out of the palace with rockets when he balks at the idea. At the very end of the film, having lost everything she's built up in her life thanks to the Minions' antics, she still thinks she's won because she at least managed to snatch the crown again right before she and Herb are frozen by kid Gru, who takes the crown from her.
- In The Princess and the Frog, Charlotte LaBouff is firmly in princess stage when we see her and Tiana as young girls in the opening — her room filled to the brim with pink frilly dresses, tiaras, and fairytale accessories while she moons over a fairytale read by Tiana's mother. Flash forward fifteen or so years, and we find very little has changed.
- Dirty Bertie: Implied for young Angela Nicely, Bertie's neighbor. She isn't seen going on about princesses or acting like a princess, but in one story, she writes a story where she's a princess and she's marrying Bertie, who she claims to be in love with even though she's six and he's seven.
- A Kid Like Jake is about a four-year-old boy named Jake who loves fairy tales, Disney princesses, and dressing up like a princess.
- In at least one film version of A Little Princess, Sara Crewe lives such a charmed life that she not only fancies herself a princess but says that all girls are princesses. She's nearly a teenager but it fits since it takes place in the Victorian period which is when the phase came from so it is probably expected to last longer. It's worth noting that Sara's idea of being a princess does not mean it entitles you to be a spoiled brat.
- A dark example occurs in Mommy's Little Princess, a Lifetime Movie of the Week. The titular character, Lizzie, discovers that she is descended from German royalty and quickly embraces it, believing that it makes her a princess. This soon causes her to do stuff like stealing her adoptive mother's credit card to buy a bunch of princess stuff, telling everybody around her that she's a princess and getting mad when people don't give her the respect she believes she deserves, and going through great lengths to play Cinderella in a play, including trying to poison one girl and planning to put poison ivy in another girl's bed so that she can't get the role. All of this is done out of Lizzie's need to feel special, due to spending the first eight years of her life with an abusive, drug-addicted mother who constantly berated her and made her feel worthless.
- When Vivian of Pretty Woman was a little girl she would pretend she was a princess... trapped in a tower by a wicked queen. And then suddenly this knight on a white horse with these colors flying would come charging up and draw his sword. And she would wave. And he would climb up the tower and rescue her.
- Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Meltdown: One of Surrey Street's many residents is a little girl named Emilia Greenwall, who always dresses like a fairy tale princess. Greg thinks she's been watching too many Disney movies.
- I Am Jazz: Jazz, Samantha, and Casey enjoy dressing up as princesses together.
- The picture book My Princess Boy is about a little boy who likes dressing up like a princess. It was written by a mother whose son liked princesses and dresses.
- Sophie at the start of the series The School for Good and Evil is firmly placed in one of these, using fairy tales as an escape from the mundane world she considers herself too good for. However, it is shown that she wants to emulate her pretty princesses because they are associated with the Happily Ever After she is determined to get. Sophie may crave a life of glamour, pampering, and mass adoration, but ultimately, she doesn't care if she gets it through being Good or through being Evil.
- A Series of Unfortunate Events has Carmelita going through one, though she takes it up by being a tap-dancing ballerina fairy princess veterinarian. She abandons it when she goes through a tomboy phase.
- In Unseen Academicals, we're told that Juliet Glossop still sleeps in a cheap four-poster-effect bed her mother was sold as "fit for a princess", in a room that is almost entirely pink with little crown decorations, the effect only slightly spoiled by the fact the legs fell off and were replaced with beer crates. Which weren't even painted pink.
- One day Manny of Degrassi: The Next Generation imagines herself as Cinderella with Craig as her Prince. Craig likes her but says that he can't kiss her because she reminds him of his five-year-old sister.
- Rory Gilmore of Gilmore Girls doesn't want her grandmother to make her into a princess as she thinks of it as being something for small children.
- Lana Lang's first scene on Smallville shows her as a child of three pretending to be a fairy princess — which is unfortunately immortalized forever, as that is what she was wearing when the meteors fall.
- Mentioned by Taylor Swift in "The Best Day", when describing early memories of her and her mother.
There is a video I found from back when I was three...
It's the age of princesses and pirate ships and the seven dwarfs...
- In Fire Emblem: Awakening, if Cynthia is the daughter of Chrom, her recruitment conversation with Chrom mentions that her father used to call her "my little pega-pony princess." Although Cynthia would literally be a princess, since Chrom is royalty.
- The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess has Agitha, the Beetle Maniac of Hyrule Castle Town. She's not of actual royal lineage, but a Lonely Rich Kid who lives alone in a fancy house for no apparent reason and who takes herself for the princess of the "Insect Kingdom", a tree inside her house where golden bugs live.
- Implied for little Virginia in Super Sized Family, who wears a crown on her head.
- In Girl Genius, Big Bad Zola 'Heterodyne' aka Zola Anya Talinka Venia Zeblinkya Malfeazium, cousin to Agatha Heterodyne exploits this trope enormously, successfully convincing multiple characters that the only reason she's agreed to pretend to be the Heterodyne is because of the pretty dresses and fancy parties. It really, really isn't. She turns out to be one of the most formidable antagonists in the comic to date.
Zola: Once I'm settled in as the Heterodyne, I shall have a big, fancy party! And I'll wear a pretty dress, and I'll dance with all the boys - but mostly you, of course.
Zola: [a long while later] ...and gold and pearl beads on the lace trim! And for you-
Gil: Sweet, sweet death?
Tiktoffen: We're safe, my lady.
Gil: Safe from what? The fashion police?
Tiktoffen: The Castle. We're in a dead zone now. Before, it could hear everything we said.
Zola: I want the Castle to underestimate me. Surely you didn't as well?
- Sarah from The Princess (2009) is in a princess phase. She's almost never seen without her crown. Her mother has no clue what to do when her child, who previously lived as a boy, renames herself and starts claiming she's a princess.
- SCP Foundation: Played for Horror in SCP-5832, an apartment room previously inhabited by a sexually abused girl - the presence of several Disney Princess-themed items, including three heavily stained princess shirts and a colouring book with every image of the Beast scribbled out in red crayon, serves to underline just how young she was.
- Discussed in Shadowjack Watches Sailor Moon:
What I find fascinating about the series is that it really is girl power in action. It does not take traditionally "masculine" action tropes and simply gender swap them, no, and it does not deny or condemn the attraction of the pretty princess fantasy. Instead, it takes all the "feminine" girly stuff like frilly princess dresses and pink unicorns and makes them into implements of power. The hypothetical girl in the audience is being told that she can be as girly as she likes and still dream of growing up into power and responsibility. Feminine articles are not shackles or playthings to be eschewed, or tools good only for obtaining the approval of men — they are treated as cool and desirable things, in and of themselves.Boy craziness is even part of this, in the way they make the knightly romance fantasy an active one. The girls wanna be swept off their feet by a handsome knight, and, damn it, they're gonna go out there and find that handsome knight and make sure he does it.
- Gender-inverted in this article about a thought experiment of a world where sexism is reversed. Logan, the young boy, goes through a prince phase, starting at age six when he dresses as Prince Charming and reads about princes, and ending when he's around nine or ten, when he states that princes are "babyish".
- Dingo Doodles: "Potato Girl"/Bouclaire is firmly in this phase.... and is also evil and more than happy to murder-via-poison anyone standing in her way to becoming a princess / queen. She manages to get herself adopted by the Royal Family of the Kingdom of Kylandria and then kills her adopted parents and takes the throne from the rightful heirs. She then forces the kingdom to be repainted in a garish pink-and-glitter color scheme and begins executing any dissenters.
- "Pink" Dawn Crumhorn a.k.a. The Princess in Danger Mouse. A young spoiled poodle who is solidly in the middle of her princess phase and who becomes powerful after her tiara comes into contact with personality-amplifying mind gel.
- Lola Loud from The Loud House is a six-year-old who dresses up like a princess, complete with a pearl necklace, sash, and tiara. Unusually, her male version (who existed in a dream her brother Lincoln had in the episode "One of the Boys"), Lexx, goes through a prince phase. He's decked in a pink scarf (according to concept art, he was originally decked entirely in pink) and a prince crown.
- Martha Speaks: Helen's cousin Carolina apparently went through a phase of acting like a princess, which meshed with her bossy attitude that she still has. Apparently, she only outgrew her princess phase because her tiara got too small for her.
- Rugrats: Angelica often writes stories where she is a princess (if not an angel). In "Princess Angelica", she starts to wonder if she really is a princess.
- Implied with Ella in Total Drama Pahkitew Island. She acts and dresses as a fairy tale princess even though she's a teenager.