“Only history can judge my reign.” – Disney Royals
“History, and us.” – Oh My Disney
Today, we’re dusting off our Poli Sci degrees and thoroughly evaluating the reigns of Disney Royals based on their benevolence, leadership, and service to the common good. (Just kidding! We were all English majors.) The time is now. The place is here. See if you agree with our Disney Royals ranking:
15. Scar, The Lion King
Even if we ignore the fact that he’s an amoral regicidal backstabber, Scar’s regime is a hands-down administrative failure. He completely destroys morale by putting power-crazed hyenas in charge, he misallocates resources (namely, all of the food), and somehow, somehow, he even causes a drought. Let that sink in—this guy is so bad at being king that the actual weather turns against him. Scar is straight Machiavellian, except he took the “cunning and duplicity” part and forgot entirely about the “shrewd logistics” part.
14. Evil Queen, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
Evil is right there in her official title, so this should come as a no-brainer. Queenie gets a higher rank than Scar because all of her diabolical tendencies are unfortunately laser-focused on ruining Snow White’s life, rather than divvying up her misdeeds for the entire kingdom to deal with. But still, we hear her chatting about her appearance quite a bit, and how many times do we hear her worry about the welfare of her subjects? Like zero.
13. Governor Swann, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl
He’s not technically “royalty,” but he’s still ultimately serving the crown somewhere down the pipeline, so whatever. Don’t get us wrong: we love Weatherby, he’s adorable, and he sure is a thoughtful dad. But running things doesn’t necessarily seem like his strong suit. He defers to Norrington on pretty much everything, and Elizabeth has to essentially orchestrate her own rescue. Great guy, though.
12. Sultan, Aladdin
Jasmine’s dad is a cute little dude, but he’s a bit of what we’d call “bumbling.” He’s not the best judge of character (look at his choice of vizier), and it takes him a little longer than necessary to realize that he can just change the arbitrary rule about Jasmine marrying a prince, seeing as he’s the sultan and can do whatever he wants. Still, he comes around eventually.
11. Beast, Beauty and the Beast
We’re going to assume that Beast was only prince of a little mini-fiefdom or something, because Belle and her townspeople don’t even know he exists. He’s not really ruling over the occupants of his enchanted objects so much as he is coexisting with them, so we’d characterize him as a pretty neutral prince reigning over a single-household kingdom in which everyone stays out of everyone else’s way. Of course, Belle changes all that, so this sovereignty has a happy ending.
10. Mayor, The Nightmare Before Christmas
Again, he’s not actually royalty, but we like him too much to leave him off this list. The Mayor and both of his faces have a special place in our hearts for several reasons: his hat, the fact that he calls town meetings by driving around and yelling “TOWN MEETING,” and the fact that he’s Jack Skellington’s #1 fanboy. His administration does have some room for improvement, though—anyone could have called that Jack’s idea was a bad one (and in fact, Sally did).
9. Hans, Frozen
If traitorous renegade Prince Hans has any redeeming quality at all, it’s that he’s not a bad administrator. Given what we know about his bloodthirsty desire for the throne, Hans probably got handed the reins to Arendelle and thought, “My time to shine.” And shine he does. Faced with the unappealing task of helping a kingdom survive a brutal and sudden winter, Hans distributes blankets and soup and warm wishes. Now if only he hadn’t gone on to become an unforgivable backstabber…
8. Rapunzel’s Parents, Tangled
Our knowledge of these two is limited to the following: 1) That the king goes above and beyond to save the queen when she’s sick, 2) That everyone in their kingdom looks pretty psyched to be there and appreciative of the awesome party taking place each year on Rapunzel’s birthday, and 3) That they never give up on finding their daughter. Plus, the queen pulls Flynn into their family group hug at the end. We think it’s a pretty safe bet that these two are solid rulers.
7. Prince Eric, The Little Mermaid
We’ve waxed poetic on Prince Eric and his many wonderful qualities before, and among those wonderful qualities are his leadership skills. Eric is a humble, sensitive sailor prince who eschews the trappings of luxury (like a giant statue of himself), has no interest in wealth or status when it comes to his future bride, and just wants to sail around in a shirt and cuffed pants like any regular dude. We would happily live in his kingdom.
6. Kuzco, The Emperor’s New Groove
While the Kuzco we met at the start of the film would certainly have earned a spot at the bottom of this list, over the course of the movie he undergoes a transformation only slightly less dramatic than bursting into flames and turning into a phoenix. Early Kuzco antagonizes peasants for sport, but later Kuzco wears llama ponchos and chills on humble hilltops with pals. He becomes the groovy, benevolent emperor his kingdom deserves, and we can get down with that.
5. Elsa, Frozen
Queen Elsa’s reign might have gotten off to a bit of a rocky start, but it wasn’t really her fault. Once she got her ice powers under control, she leveled up to ultimate boss queen, creating ice skating rinks for all her people to enjoy. If you want more proof, just look how happy the collective people of Arendelle are in Frozen Fever. And let’s not forget that Arendelle does a lot of trading with nearby kingdoms—no simple task, but diplomat Elsa has it handled.
4. Fergus and Elinor, Brave
Like anyone, Merida’s parents have their flaws, but ultimately they are extraordinarily loving, confident, diplomatic leaders … especially Elinor. Against insurmountable odds, she maintained peace amongst the three clans. You only need to look at the way she stops their brawl to understand exactly how much respect she commands. And while Fergus may lack her tactfulness, he is a fierce protector of his people with a good heart. Most importantly, both of them have the strength of mind to understand when change is necessary and let Merida forge her own path.
3. Emperor, Mulan
If there is an award for classiest royal, Emperor wins, no contest. His dynasty is threatened by a force so terrifying that they communicate by evil falcons, and yet the Emperor refuses to bow down to Shan-Yu, even to save his own life. He drops incredibly epic turns of phrase left and right, such as, “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of them all,” and, “You don’t meet a girl like that every dynasty.” And then he adjusts his hat and struts away. This guy is 100% for the people.
2. Simba, The Lion King
Right from the get-go Simba had big shoes to fill, since Mufasa was a pretty great leader (not to mention an amazing dad). And while it took him awhile to get there, Simba really internalized all of Mufasa’s lessons: just look at the majesty in the way he ascends Pride Rock to challenge Scar. Once he takes his rightful place as the lion king in question, the Pride Lands become beautiful again, everyone gets enough food, and the circle of life cycles beautifully on.
1. Kida, Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Kida is everything you could want in a leader: smart, brave, open-minded, selfless. She is constantly saving people’s lives, never gives up on preserving her ever-threatened culture, and even goes so far as to sacrifice herself to bond with the Heart of Atlantis and save her entire city from certain ruin. When she becomes the Queen of Atlantis at the end of the movie, it’s obvious that her people are going to thrive like never before. Kida, we bow down to you.
Do you agree with our ranking of Disney royals? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!