Princess Archetype

Learn all about the princess archetype, including definition, characteristics, examples and how it relates to the Caregiver archetype.

What is the Princess Archetype?

The Princess archetype is a feminine archetype associated with sweetness, innocence and with romance. The Princess is a passive rather than active archetype, with the Princess largely waiting for others around her, most often the Prince of her dreams, to determine her fate for her.

She waits for her Prince Charming to sweep her off her feet and take her away to the palace of her dreams, whilst also awaiting others around her to do everything for her. The people in her world largely exist to be at her beck and call.

Even in times of danger and distress she will foolishly wait for someone to rescue her rather than taking action herself to determine her own fate.

Life sometimes presents the opportunity for her to transform into a Queen, throwing challenges in her way which she could rise to by taking decisive action of her own, but she will not necessarily embrace these opportunities when they arise – sometimes remaining a pampered Princess seems the easier option.

Princess Archetype Characteristics & Traits

  • The Princess archetype is characterized by a number of traits which are very familiar to a society raised on the Princess of the Disney film.
  • Perhaps the most obvious trait is the neediness and dependence of the Princess on those around them.
  • They are raised by their families to depend on them, usually not allowed to have an independent life or make their own decisions even if they wanted to.
  • This characteristic is then carried into their adult lives in their dependence on their romantic partner to rescue them from threat and to provide for them during their adulthood.
  • This is familiar to us in the form of the ‘damsel in distress’ trope of film and literature, with the Princess awaiting her Prince Charming to rescue her from danger and then live happily ever after together.
  • The archetypal Princess usually possesses an air of entitlement and privilege which means that they treat those around them with distain.
  • Others may see them as spoiled and something of a brat.
  • They can appear to be very self-centred and exhibit a high level of self-interest.
  • Their world view means that they see the world and the events going on around them only in terms of how they affect them, with little regard for how others around them are impacted.
  • ‘I’ is probably the most common word in their vocabulary. These tendencies may cause those around them to describe them as acting like a ‘diva’.

The Complaining Princess Archetype

The Princess can often appear to complain and whine a lot, despite the best efforts of those around to meet their needs. They can lack gratitude for those who go out of their way to help them, forgetting to show any sense of appreciation or understanding that others have made an effort on their behalf.

They are often very focused on material possessions, showing a superficial attitude to the world in which the things they own and their wealth appears to matter more to them than the people they are associated with.

She displays a lack of interest in things which are not superficial, and as such shows a lack of empathy for people or for any interests they may have which do not match with her own. She has a short attention span, particularly for things which do not interest her, and makes no secret of the fact that she is bored despite the fact that openly displaying this may be hurtful to others. The Princess desires to be admired by others in every possible way.

Princess Archetype Appearance

Her physical appearance is likely to be of great importance to her. In the common Princess archetype in modern society this is unlikely to be problematic for her, as Princesses are expected to be beautiful, thin and fashionable. The expectations placed on HRH Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge and Meghan, Duchess of Sussex by the internal press are clear evidence of this.

Whilst the Princess archetype can have negative connotations, it can also be one of numerous positive qualities. They have an innocence and sweetness which makes them essentially harmless, and they never purposefully set out to cause pain to other people.

They often possess a great sense of fun and vibrance, feeling great joy in life and appreciating every day that they are given to the full. They are able to love with a full and committed heart, falling deeply in love when they find their soulmate and greatly valuing their family and friends.

They often possess an admirably noble bearing, and can display qualities of graciousness, loyalty and humility.

Princess Archetype Examples

An example of the Princess archetype is Ariel from Disney’s 28th animated film The Little Mermaid, released in 1989.

Ariel was based on the title character of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid”. Ariel is the beautiful youngest of King Triton and Queen Athena.

She is fascinated with the human world, a quality which makes her rebellious, wandering off on her own to explore her surroundings and causing her to disobey her father’s orders. She is being willing to risk anything to be with Prince Eric, even giving up her voice to become human, showing grave errors of judgment in trying to achieve this.

She also is incredibly curious, this curiosity leading her into danger.

Further Reading

Further reading on the princess archetype includes:

  • The Princess: The Archetype of Privilege – by Brian Dale
  • The Archetype of the Disney Princess – by Adrianna Csipo, Ida Bødker, Vaitza Papakonstantinou, Camilla Brodt, Kristyna Veitova
  • Shadows of a Princess: Diana, Princess of Wales 1987-1996 – An Intimate Account by Her Private Secretary – by Patrick Jephson
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