is the feminine form of prince
(from Latin princeps
, meaning principal
citizen). Most often, the term has been used for the consort of a prince, or her daughters, women whose station in life depended on their relationship to a prince and who could be disowned and stripped of the title if he so chose.
For many centuries, the title "princess" was not regularly used for a monarch's daughter, who might simply be called "Lady" or a non-English equivalent; Old English had no female equivalent to "prince", "earl", or any royal or noble aside from the queen, and the women of nobility bore the title of "Lady".
As women have slowly gained more autonomy through European history, the title of princess has become simply the female counterpart of prince and does not necessarily imply being controlled or owned by a prince. In some cases then, a princess is the female hereditary head of state of a province or other significant area in her own right. The ancient meaning applies in Europe still to the extent that a female commoner who marries a prince will almost always become a princess, but a male commoner who marries a princess will almost never become a prince, unless his wife has, or is expected to attain, a higher title, such as Queen regnant. The implication is that if the man held the equivalent masculine title, he would have rank over his wife without the necessary pedigree.
In many of Europe's royal families, a king would grant his heirs actual or theoretical principalities to train them for future kingship or to give them social rank. This practice has led over time to many people thinking that "prince" and "princess" are titles reserved for the immediate family of a king or queen. In fact, most princesses in history were not immediate members of a royal family but women who married into it; however, in many cases, a princess would choose someone outside of royalty to wed.
Present day princesses
- Belgium: Mathilde, Elisabeth, Astrid, Luisa Maria, Maria Laura, Laetitia Maria, Claire, Louise, Léa, Marie-Christine, Maria-Esmeralda
- Denmark: Mary, Isabella, Marie, Benedikte and Elisabeth.
- Greece: Marie-Chantal, Maria-Olympia, Alexia, Theodora and Irene.
- Japan: Masako, Aiko, Kiko, Kako, Mako, Hanako, Yuriko, Nobuko, Akiko, Yōko, Hisako, Tsuguko, Noriko and Ayako.
- Jordan: Iman bint Al Abdullah , Salma, Alia, Ayah, Sara, Aisha bint Al Faisal, Aisha bint Al Hussein, Zein, Haya Bint Al Hussein, Rym, Jalilah, Hayah bint Hamzah, Fahdah, Hala, Iman bint Al Hussein, Raiyah, Muna, Sarvath, Rahma, Sumaya, Badiya, Basma, Sana, Yasmine, Sarah, Noor, Salha and Nejla.
- Liechtenstein: Marie Aglaë, Sophie, Marie-Caroline, Angela, Marie, Georgina, Tatjana, Isabelle, Princess Astrid, Princess Theodora, Margaretha, Maria-Annunciata, Marie-Astrid and Nora.
- Luxembourg: Alexandra, Marie Astrid, Marie Gabrielle, Sibilla, Elisabeth and Alix.
- Monaco: Antoinette, Caroline, and Stéphanie.
- Morocco: Lalla Salma, Lalla Khadija, Lalla Asma, Lalla Hasna, and Lalla Meryem.
- Netherlands: Máxima, Catharina-Amalia, Alexia, Ariane, Laurentien, Mabel, Margriet, Marilène, Annette, Anita, Aimée and Christina.
- Norway: Mette-Marit, Ingrid Alexandra, Märtha Louise, Ragnhild and Astrid.
- Romania: Margareta, Elena, Irina, Sofia and Maria.
- Spain: Letizia, Leonor, Sofía, Elena, Cristina, Pilar and Margarita.
- Sweden: Victoria, Madeleine, Lilian, Margaretha, Birgitta, Désirée and Christina.
- Thailand: Ubol Ratana, Bajrakitiyabha, Sirindhorn, Chulabhorn, Bejaratana, Galyani, Srirasmi and Soamsavali.
- Uganda: Elizabeth of Toro of Toro kingdom, who was the nation's first female lawyer, a former top model for couturiers, and a former minister and ambassador in the government of Idi Amin.
- UK and Commonwealth Realms: Anne, Alexandra, Camilla (styled "Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cornwall" although legally a princess), Sophie, Beatrice, Eugenie, Louise (styled as "Lady" although legally a princess), Katharine, Birgitte and Marie-Christine
Note: Although Bulgaria, Greece, Romania and India are Republics following the abolition of their Monarchies, these titles are granted as courtesy.
Other uses of the term
Widely used as a term of endearment
, "princess" has also devolved in mostly American usage to mean any woman of exceptional popularity, such as the "princesses" of high school prom
courts and beauty pageants
. The term can also be used disparagingly to refer to a young woman or girl perceived of as being vain
or spoiled. Another variation is "Jewish Princess
" which focuses on affluent, free-spending, suburban Jewish
Yet another take on the rising popularity of being a "princess" is the gentleness and refined composure associated with the title. It often conjures images of elegance and self-control, and among the younger generations, is a depiction of all things feminine and lovely. In popular culture, the stereotypically ideal relationship between parents and a daughter consists of the mother and father considering their daughter to be their own "little princess." A fictional princess typically wears a pink princess gown with ballroom shoes or in other colors.