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Twitch: So what about Princess Celestial? She was top dog, so why weren't she a queen? Ain't that how it works? I mean, it's king or queen, then prince or princess, then uh... baron, I think...
Crimson Sky: You think too much about the wrong things, Twitch.

Occasionally in fiction, a princess is shown to be the absolute ruler of a realm, despite the fact that, logically, that would make her a queen, or some other title, such as empress, sultana, etc. There could be 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 some inexplicable reason. Likely done to avoid associations with evil queens, as pretty young girls are less likely to be evil than older women. (It tends to be a popular trope in works by and for little girls still in their Princess Phases.)

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Notably, the word princess (and its spear counterpart, prince) is derived from the Latin word "princeps", which means "first citizen". It was one of the titles of the Roman Emperor. Some real life countries — mostly small nations such as Andorra and Monaco — continue to refer to their leaders as "Prince" in this context. This is what we call a principality, as opposed to a kingdom.

Note: Queens (consort) who are the wives of regnant kings might be referred to as princesses. That does not fit this trope. Nor does a queen referring to herself as a prince or a Prince consort who is the husband of a regnant Queen. Only a Princess ruling as a Princess and a Prince ruling as a Prince counts.

Subtrope of Gratuitous Princess. Contrast God Save Us from the Queen!. Compare Politically Active Princess.

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Examples:

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  • Quisp of the Quisp and Quake cereals pointedly calls himself the "crown prince of Planet Q", despite being its ruler. He admits that he easily could have king as his title, but he "doesn't want to sound pushy".

    Anime & Manga 
  • In Arata: The Legend, the ruler of the first Arata's world is simply the "princess".
  • Daichi Banjo's Bushin has a Fictional Country known as the Principality of Rosenbach that's ruled by Princess Ingram, who inherited the throne from her father (and a bit of an Innocent Fanservice Girl). Unfortunately, being a female ruler is just as hard as a male one while you're a young woman having to do all the exhausting diplomacy and to hire Japanese jujutsu-inclined bodyguards because you could be assassinated any moment like your father was.
  • Cornelia and Euphemia of Code Geass 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. In the second series, Nunnally also briefly becomes one, at least until Lelouch's rebellion finally succeeds. And averted in the finale, as Nunnally is elevated to the rank of Empress.
  • Downplayed in Dance in the Vampire Bund, as while Mina Tepes has officially been queen of the vampires for centuries she is popularly referred to as 'Princess Mina' in large part due to her physical age after she kicks the Masquerade over.
  • It's gender reversed, but in Dragon Ball Z, Prince Vegeta's father has been dead for almost two decades by the Saiyan Saga, but he has stuck to calling himself the Prince of the Saiyans despite (or perhaps because) the Saiyans are all but extinct, his home planet no longer exists, and he's under the thumb of a murderous tyrant. Another two decades, a ton of Character Development and two children later, Vegeta can still be heard slipping into Prince of the Saiyans Mode during Dragon Ball Super; old habits, it seems die hard.
  • In El-Hazard: The Magnificent World, Princess Rune Venus and Fatora seem to be the co-rulers of Roshtaria (though it's uncertain how much political power Fatora holds).
  • In Magic Knight Rayearth, 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.
  • Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch: Each of the seven mermaid kingdoms is ruled by a Mermaid Princess.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny: 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.
  • Sailor Moon:
    • In the manga, the Inner and Outer Senshi are revealed to have been the princesses (and also appear to be the main rulers) of their respective planets. This is somewhat offset, and possibly explained, by the fact that they are subordinate to Princess Serenity.
    • Prince Endymion is a possible male example, since he appears to have been the main ruler of the Earth during the Silver Millennium. To make it even weirder, he eventually does become King of the Earth in the 30th century, with Neo-Queen Serenity, where he is implied to be a glorified consort.
  • In Saint Seiya, Polaris Hilda in the Asgard saga is called princess in many foreign dubs, although she's an orphan and the official monarch of Asgard.
  • In Yona of the Dawn, the neighboring kingdom of Xing is ruled by Princess Kouren, as her father, the king, is ill. She ascends the throne properly once he properly dies.
  • Princess Adina (Mokuba's virtual Opposite-Sex Clone), ruler of Simlow in the virtual world in Yu-Gi-Oh!.

    Comic Books 
  • An unusual male example, the Batman villain the Joker has declared himself "The Clown Prince of Crime" but is the leader of his gang, which should make him "The Clown King of Crime" but then he'd lose the pun.
  • A lot of the kingdoms of Mongo in Flash Gordon are ruled by princes instead of Kings.
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: (Golden Age) Princess Snowina of is the ruler of the North Pole.
  • X-Wing Rogue Squadron: Plourr Illo is revealed to be the 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.
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    Fan Works 
  • This is discussed in Bad Future Crusaders when Twitch, one of Lightning Dust's wingponies in the R.E.A.F., can't understand why Princess "Celestial" went by Princess instead of Queen.
    Twitch: So what about Princess Celestial? She was top dog, so why weren't she a queen? Ain't that how it works? I mean, it's king or queen, then prince or princess, then uh... baron, I think...
    Crimson Sky: You think too much about the wrong things, Twitch.
  • Book 5: Legends (a The Legend of Korra fanfic) pokes fun at this trope with Cloud Cuckoolander Princess Koko (implied to be a descendant of King Bumi from Aang's era). She downright insists on being addressed as a Princess despite ostensibly being a Queen, and a figurehead of a Queen who answers to a Minister anyway. She's equally insistent on this title being used with Korra, despite her Avatar title generally superseding mere mortal titles.
  • The Bridge, a crossover between My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and Godzilla, pokes fun at the former's constant use of this trope. While dimensional transplant Xenilla is able to wrap his head around Celestia and Luna both being princesses via the justification of them being co-rulers, he simply can't understand why Cadance is still called Princess even when she's ruling the Crystal Empire, asking why she isn't an "Empress". And hilariously, when he points this out, no-one is able to explain it to him; it seems it never crossed their minds as being odd. Doesn't stop him from constantly referring to Cadance as "Empress Cadenza" under the justification of "just because you guys got it wrong doesn't mean I have to."
    • It's eventually revealed that this is a Justified Trope: when Celestia banished Nightmare Moon she actually was offered the title of "Queen", but turned it down as not to appear unapproachable by a populace that was scared of her power. The implication is 1,000 years of great leadership by Celestia caused "Princess" to be the de-facto highest royal title for a female ruler.
  • In The Elements of Harmony and the Savior of Worlds, Celestia and Luna say that the reason they're princesses instead of queens is because princesses are closer to their people than queens. Though Celestia later admits that in reality, they view themselves as regents holding the throne until Queen Majesty's true heir eventual comes forth. There are hints that Twilight Sparkle may be the one they're waiting on, but there's been no confirmation on that one way or another yet.
  • In Equestria: A History Revealed, after Chrysalis is born as a dark Celestia clone as the result of baking gone wrong, she questions why Celestia calls herself a princess when she's the only one ruling. Celestia says its because the title of princess brings up the image of youth and beauty. Chrysalis interrupts and says that's stupid, and chooses to call herself a queen, leading to an argument between the two.
  • It's explained in Married to the Koopa King that the Mushroom Kingdom has a rule against unmarried female royalty being crowned. Peach couldn't become "queen" until she married.
  • This is justified in the Bowser/Peach Super Mario Bros fic My Pain, My Thrill as a choice of Peach's. Her parents disappeared when she was sixteen. Even over ten years later, Peach refuses to be crowned queen because then it means that she's given into the fact that her parents are dead. Peach logically realizes that they are dead but she still refuses to admit it.
  • Princess Trixie Sparkle explains why Celestia is a princess and not a queen. Her older sister Astelle was accidentally crowned queen instead of her due to Starswirl misreading a prophecy. Being crowned queen involves a special magic. Alas, the magic cannot be given twice, so Celestia is stuck as a princess.
  • It's implied in RainbowDoubleDash's Lunaverse that Luna and Celestia used to use the title of Princess because they were co-rulers. Especially since when Celestia went off the deep end and became Corona, she insisted on being referred to as a Queen. Presumably Luna refrained from claiming the title of Queen after her sister's defeat to avoid the traumatic associations the title had picked up for Equestria's ponies.
  • The Story Shuffle series, for each of its anthologies:

    Films — Animation 
  • In Barbie and the Secret Door, this is played with, as Big Bad Princess Malucia only rules the kingdom while her parents are away.
  • In Barbie: Princess Charm School, the land of Gardenia is a kingdom, as late monarch Isabella (Blair's biological mother) was called a queen. Still, her niece Delancy is supposed to sit on the throne while being called a princess. When finally Blair is crowned instead of her, she is referred to as a princess rather than a queen by everyone, certainly to fit the movie's title.
  • A Rare Male Example is the Beast/Prince Adam from Beauty and the Beast. He is described as a Prince, but we do not see his parents.
  • Princess Oriana in Felix the Cat: The Movie rules the kingdom which is also named Oriana.
  • Subverted with Unikitty, princess of Cloud Cuckooland from The LEGO Movie. While she is the host for travellers to her country, she also states that it doesn't actually have any government or even rules.
  • Another Rare Male Example is Prince Eric of The Little Mermaid. 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.
  • Magic Gift of the Snowman: Princess Electra governs her kingdom in her own right
  • In Mickey, Donald, Goofy: The Three Musketeers, Minnie is called "Princess Minnie." Despite this, she's pretty much queen in every other aspect.
  • In Shrek 2, Prince Charming is the ruler of an unspecified kingdom and he seemingly lacks a father. His mother Fairy Godmother is still alive, but is at no point called "queen".
  • Princess Odette's father, the king, dies in the original The Swan Princess but she is still a princess in the later films. This could perhaps be explained as her kingdom being united with that her husband, Prince Derek, through their marriage, but still ruled in their entirety by Derek's mother, Queen Uberta.
  • Wreck-It Ralph appears to intentionally invoke this trope with the world of the Sugar Rush game being ruled by Princess Vanellope. It doesn't last long, though, as she decides she would rather be president instead.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • In The Last Airbender the voiceover explicitly states that the Northern Water Tribe is ruled by a princess because her father was killed. In the original series her father, Chief Arnook, was alive and ruling himself.

    Literature 
  • The Black Company: In the later books, the Fantasy Counter Part Culture 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.)
  • In A Brother's Price, the ruling system is quite complicated. For one, there are several queens, all sisters. Their princess daughters take over some of the rulership tasks. Ruling is something like a family business in which everyone takes part.
  • In the Dorothy Must Die re-imagining of Oz by Danielle Paige, Princess Dorothy now rules Oz, and has made it a thoroughly Crapsack World.
  • The titular Dread Empire is ruled by a pair of immortal sorcerers (twin brothers Yo Hsi and Nu Li Hsi) who style themselves the "Princes Thaumaturge". Explicitly justified because after they overthrew their father together, the brothers turned on each other but found themselves so evenly matched that neither could prevail and claim the title of Emperor, so they were forced to compromise with lesser titles and a shared rule (officially termed "The Dual Principiate"). After they in turn bite it, Yo Hsi's daughter Mist initially rules as princess, but only because all her enemies haven't yet been vanquished and she's not fully secure in her role. By the end of the series, with her rivals either dead or having acknowledged her authority, Mist actively starts styling herself "Empress".
  • First Sword Chronicles: after the death of her brother the Emperor, Princess Romana ascends to the throne; however, as she wishes to reinstate the faith of the Divine Empress, Romana rules only as Princess Imperial, mortal steward of the Empress' will.
  • In the Lafayette O'Leary series, when Princess Adoreanne ascends to the throne of Artesia, she remains a princess for reasons which are never explained, but presumably have something to do with the fact that she's still young and beautiful and subject to various common Princess Tropes.
  • Land of Oz:
    • Princess Ozma from the Oz books. The Marvelous Land of Oz calls her a Queen when she takes the throne at the end, but from then on, she is always "Princess Ozma". 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.
    • Double Subverted later on in The Lost King of Oz by Ruth Plumly Thompson. Pastora, Ozma's father and the rightful King of Oz, who was declared to be long dead in The Marvelous Land of Oz, is discovered still alive. Once he returns to Oz, though, he is quite willing to let his daughter continue ruling.
    • Princess Langwidere from Ozma of Oz is a justified example, as she is only acting ruler until the return of the Royal Family.
  • Princess Desmia rules the kingdom in Palace of Mirrors, although she is a mere figurehead. By the end of the book, the kingdom is ruled by a council of thirteen princesses, all of whom have equal right to rule.
  • 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 Princedoms, not kingdoms.
  • Princess Jenna from the Septimus Heap series is the ruler but is still referred to as "princess." She will, however, become queen when the Time is Right.
  • Princess Glisselda becomes acting monarch and regent in Seraphina after her grandmother becomes incapacitated.
  • The Rhoynar, including the ruling family of Dorne, are late additions to Westeros in A Song of Ice and Fire 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. The most recent one was the mother of the current Prince Doran. His own heir is his daughter Arianne, who sometimes rules for her father when he's away from the palace, which is quite often in recent years.
  • Justified in The Sorcerer's Daughter. After Queen Anne's death, her cousins decided to avoid a civil war and split the kingdom between them into two principalities. As a result, in the beginning of the novel, Roswald and Grünwald are ruled by Princess Odette and Princess Gertrude.
  • For some never explained reason, the monarch of the Fomalhaut system in Edmund Hamilton's The Star Kings is 'Princess' Lianna.
  • The Princes of Gwyneth (a Wales expy) in Tales of the Branion Realm are commonly female due to Gender Is No Object and She Is the King. For part of the series, Gwyneth is independent and has eight Princes at any one time.
  • Played with in The Wheel of Time 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.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Once Upon a Time: Snow White and Prince Charming are the rulers of their kingdom but are not referred to as king and queen.

    Music 

    Myths & Religion 
  • A male example: The Devil is often referred to as the "Prince of Darkness".
  • Inverted male example. Belshazzar, referred to as the King of Babylon in The Bible book of Daniel, even though he was never officially enthroned as king (a separate ancient text called Nabonidus Chronicle called him "the crown prince") and was only serving as a temporary ruler while his father, King Nabonidus, was away. As such, Belshazzar was only able to offer the position of "third ruler in the kingdom" to the person who can give interpretation to the handwriting to the wall, because he's not actually the highest authority figure and would not have been able to give "the second highest authority in the land", as was the case with Joseph and the Pharaoh.
  • As another male version, the "Epistle Dedicatory" of the King James Bible dedicates the translation "To the most high and mighty Prince James, by the grace of God, King of Great Britain, France, and Ireland, Defender of the Faith, Etc."

    Podcasts 
  • In the Cool Kids Table game Here We Gooooo!, Princess Caramel Seltzer is the ruler of the Soda Pop Kingdom. It's unknown if Princess Crania is in the same boat, though there is no mention of her parents back in the Skull Kingdom either.

    Theater 
  • The male variation of this trope is featured in Emilia Galotti by 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 German states).

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    Video Games 
  • BoxxyQuest: The Shifted Spires: Princess June rules Skype, and there is no King or Queen of Skype to be seen.
  • Dragalia Lost has the odd male in Prince Euden. Though he officially becomes king of the fledgling nation of New Alberia at the end of the sixth chapter, even his closest vassals continue to refer to him as Prince Euden rather than king.
  • In Dragon Age, the assorted city-states which make up the Free Marches have different titles for their rulers. In the case of Starkhaven, the ruler is explicitly given the title of Prince or Princess, even though Starkhaven is not a principality. This is given focus in the Dragon Age II DLC The Exiled Prince, in which the last surviving member of the royal family has to decide whether to go home and take up his rightful throne.
  • Princess Gutrune of Etrian Odyssey 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.
  • Subverted in Fallout 3, 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.
  • Gender-inverted in Kirby's Epic Yarn, where Prince Fluff appears to be the ruler of Patch Land, and there is no mention of a king or queen.
  • The Legend of Zelda goes all over the place with this:
    • In Twilight Princess, supplementary material say that Princess Zelda was about to be crowned queen before everything started going to hell; the Super Smash Bros. Brawl manual also refers to her as "queen", for what it is worth.
      • In contrast, Midna, the titular "Twilight Princess" herself, seems to have been a straight example before she was overthrown by Zant. It's also implied that she'd only recently inherited the throne before being usurped, possibly not having the chance to be crowned queen.
      • The child Prince Ralis becomes ruler of Zora's Domain after his parents' deaths but continues to be referred to only a prince, possibly being too young to be crowned king. One Zora NPC lampshades this by wondering if they should start calling him King Ralis now that the king and queen are dead.
    • While the Princess Zelda of Spirit Tracks is technically the ruling monarch (and is shown during cutscenes performing the ceremonial and administrative functions that such a role would include), it's implied that she's not old enough to be crowned queen yet, with Hyrule functioning under a regency instead.
    • Princess Zelda in A Link Between Worlds is portrayed as the ruler of her kingdom, and the same thing applies to her Lorulean counterpart Princess Hilda.
    • Princess Zelda actually outright averts this in several games:
      • In A Link to the Past, Ocarina of Time, The Minish Cap, and Breath of the Wild, her father is the one on the throne when the Big Bad rears its ugly head. At the end of the A Link to the Past comic in Nintendo Power, Zelda is even crowned queen, since unlike in the game, her father isn't revived at the end.
      • The Wind Waker is a peculiar example, as there she's just 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 Phantom Hourglass.
      • Skyward Sword 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.
    • In a few games, like The Legend of Zelda, it's left vague whether Zelda or one of her parents is the reigning monarch.
    • Hyrule Warriors plays it straight with numerous returning princesses. While Zelda is treated as The High Queen and developer interviews even call her "queenly", she is still only called a "princess" in-game.
  • Until the ending (if you live that long) Elodie of 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.
  • In both timelines of Radiant Historia, Queen Protea is deposed one way or another, but Eruca continues calling herself Princess. Justified, as there's bigger issues preventing her having time to be crowned, and Stocke being being her older brother Ernst makes her claim to the throne unclear for a while.
  • The hierarchy of the Aristocrat Club in Rule of Rose 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.
  • Sonic the Hedgehog (2006): 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. In the Japanese dialogue.
  • Due to her father's insanity, Princess Hilde rules her nation in SoulCalibur IV. She's technically regent, however, not the monarch.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Justified in Xenoblade Chronicles with Princess (and later Crown Princess) Melia Antiqua. Turns out that even after her father died, she wants to become a royal who actually does somethingnote  by joining Shulk's party (she's got her duties covered via substitute); even though, as the Crown Princess, she should be the next ruler of the High Entia. This puts her duties taken temporarily by her brother who, in turn, averts this trope himself by becoming the regent of the High Entia and not the prince.
  • Discussed in Yggdra Union. 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 Idiot Ball 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.

    Web Original 
  • Explained and excused in Deviantart Extended Universe. The land they inhabit is intentionally made a principality so the newly appointed Princess Emerald of Gem World does not have to give up her title. Later becomes a co-principality when her sidekick, Antisapien the Christian Dinosaur is appointed as prince. His role is more of a mayor than a prince, being a direct surveyor of the land and how the people are working on DA-Land.
  • Discussed by The Nostalgia Critic in this editorial about princesses in media, noting that he was ignorant of this trope for years until having an epiphany while watching a film adaptation of Bridge to Terabithia (which he later reviewed). He suggests that the trope comes from the fantasy that a princess would have all the power of being royalty without any of the responsibility of actually running a kingdom.

    Webcomics 
  • Bound Adventures takes place in the kingdom of Boundaria, where a Duchess schemed to become queen. Despite that, the land's current ruler is called Princess Irina.
  • In The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob!, Princess Voluptua is the Vicereign of Earth's solar system, meaning she's still subordinate to her dad the Emperor off in another star system, but she's the highest ranking person here.
  • Princess Pi rules the kingdom of Piscataway, keeping her princess title even though her late mother, Queen Isosceles, did not. Pi's Big Bad, Princess Ip of America, refers to herself as a princess despite actually ruling as a dictator.
  • The setting of Rusty and Co. is ruled by The Princess, who's also a formidable fighter. No Kings nor Queens are ever mentioned, and lesser nobles who want to steal the throne would send assassins on the Princess, implying that she is the absolute sovereign of the kingdom.

    Western Animation 
  • Adventure Time:
    • Princess Bubblegum rules over her kingdom. Justified as Princess Bubblegum did not inherit her title from a king- she is an Emperor Scientist who literally created her kingdom and all her subjects, and chose the title "Princess" herself.
    • 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 aversion, though, since we actually see her parents.
    • Things get complicated with Flame Princess, who deposed her father and seized the throne herself. She officially now uses the title Flame King, but is still referred to as Flame Princess by characters outside the kingdom and the show's credits.
    • A self-styled King of Ooo has appeared in the show, but he acts more like a cult leader and petty confidence trickster than a monarch, and most of those who accept his authority are overtly naive individuals. During his reign over the Candy Kingdom, he designated himself Princess King of Ooo.
  • Aladdin: The Series: Prince Uncouthma of Odiferous rules his people and there's no mention of a King or a Queen.
  • Played with in Captain N: The Game Master. Princess Lana is the only ruler in Videoland, but her father is still alive; he's just trapped in another dimension, so Lana is acting as regent while she tries to find a way to rescue him. It's revealed in one episode that she has a brother, Prince Lyle, who should be acting as regent, but Lana has to do it because Lyle has severe anxiety and spends most of his time in the Tetris region.
  • Princess Starglo from Care Bears: Share Bear Shines is described as "the mother of all stars," yet is only a princess for some reason.
  • Justified in Dave the Barbarian: Candy has been put in charge of Udrogoth until her parents come back from destroying all the evil in the world. (It's taking a while.)
  • The first episode of Elena of Avalor explains that the title character can't become queen until she comes of age, according to the laws of her nation. As such, she is crown princess with a council to help her rule until then.
  • In Gawayn, Princess Gwendolyn is portrayed as the rightful ruler of her kingdom. Her parents have never even been seen or mentioned.
  • My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: All Alicorns are given the title of "Princess" and assigned different areas to govern: Princess Celestia and Princess Luna are the rulers of Equestria (also an Exaggerated Trope since their power is close to that of deities, moving the sun and moon each day and night), while Princess Cadance retains her title when she becomes ruler of the Crystal Empire, which was once overseen by her ancestor, Princess Amore (once referred to in-show as a queen, making for the series' first—if brief—aversion). Twilight Sparkle, after becoming an alicorn, rules her own castle at first and later succeeds Celestia and Luna as ruler of Equestria, following their retirement. The show makes an In-Universe explanation that the "Princess" title isn't exclusively passed down from a bloodline, but is handed out based on talent and worthiness. Still, Word of God says the decision to use the title in the first place is due to Executive Meddling dictating that little girls think princesses are good but queens are evil.
  • Puppy in My Pocket: Adventures in Pocketville: Princess Ava. Although her Evil Twin Eva mentions that becoming a queen of the Pocket Kingdom is possible, Ava does not take the title as queen due to unknown circumstances, possibly that little girls think princesses are good but queens are evil.
  • In Sea Princesses, Bia is the princess of the Abyssal Kingdom, responsible for maintaining order in Beyondness sea and take care of the throne while her parents are travelling throughout the kingdom.
  • She-Ra and the Princesses of Power: Most kingdoms on Etheria that haven't been conquered by the Horde are ruled by princesses with superpowers, with the exception of Bright Moon, which has Queen Angella. When Angella is assumed dead, her daughter Glimmer is coronated as queen instead of simply ruling as a princess.
  • Princess Sally from the Sonic the Hedgehog (SatAM) series would be ruler if Robotnik hadn't taken over. Instead, she leads the resistance movement.
  • In the cartoon Unikitty!, Princess Unikitty is the ruling head of the Unikingdom, doing duties for her people (as much as it bores her).
  • Princess Allura of Voltron: Legendary Defender is much the same as her Voltron counterpart, save for one little fact — most of her kingdom (as she knew it) has been dead for thousands of years. She is still ruler and does have definite subjects to rule over at present, but it seems like she keeps her princess title out of respect for the late king her father.

    Real Life 
  • 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 The Prince), 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 Liechtenstein) whose head of state is referred to (or translated as, in Liechtenstein's case) as "Prince", instead of another title like "King", and any woman inheriting the position would be referred to as "Princess". It’s very rare though; in the Grimaldi family’s 800-year reign over Monaco, there have only been two female rulers and only Louise Hippolyte, Princess of Monaco, ruled as a true princess (Lady Claudine reigned at a time when the nation was not yet a principality).
  • In some monarchies, the sovereign can step down without abdicating if they are unwilling or incapable of performing royal duties and call their successor Prince(ss) Regent, who rules in their proxy. A famous example is George III, who retained the title of king even after he was deemed unfit to rule because of his mental illness while his son (later called George IV) was named Prince Regent and exercised full powers of a king. Not that he did a particularly good job at it...

Alternative Title(s): Princes Rule

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