The Grimm’s fairy tale princesses who star in their own Disney movies are impossibly angelic. Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty are so kind and sweet that wild animals don’t fear them. The power of their virtue can melt the heart of the grumpiest of dwarfs, and it can even make mice sew beautiful ball gowns.
Perhaps these princesses are so well-behaved because they weren’t raised royally. Even Princess Aurora got the peasant treatment when she had to spend most of her life hiding in a cottage in the woods. However, many Grimm’s fairy tales aren’t about poor persecuted girls who move up in the world when they get rescued by charming princes — some of the stories feature kings’ offspring whose regal treatment turns them into spoiled brats. Here’s a look at the bad behavior of the worst Grimm’s fairy tale princesses:
The morbid princess in “The Three Snake-Leaves”
You won’t find a princess more twisted than the crazy lady in this sinister story. She makes only one request of her Prince Charming: He has to be buried alive with her if she dies first. The princess does manage to find a suitor who is so enamored with her beauty that he agrees to watch her become worm food, and of course the princess ends up dying young.
Her husband is locked inside the princess’s tomb with her body, but he lucks out while he’s waiting to starve to death. After he kills a snake, the prince witnesses the reptile’s companion practicing some pretty incredible sorcery — the second snake slithers up and uses three magical leaves to bring its fallen friend back to life. The prince decides to try this trick on the body of his wife, and he’s overjoyed when she rises from the dead.
The princess repays her husband by taking him on a sea voyage, but this is no romantic cruise — she cheats on him with the skipper, and she and her new lover throw the prince into the sea. But don’t worry — she gets what’s coming to her when her own father drowns her at the end of the story. I’d love to see Disney try to turn this dark fairy tale into a family-friendly animated film.
The “Off with their heads!” princess in “The Riddle”
The proud princess in this story is a better fit for “Game of Thrones” than she would be for Disney. To amuse herself and satiate her blood lust, she promises that she’ll marry the man who presents her with a riddle that she can’t solve within three days. If he fails, he gets beheaded. A prince finally manages to stump her, but of course she tries to cheat. She tries to get the prince to give her the answer in his sleep, but her plan fails when the prince catches her and steals her robe. She gets her happy ending when she’s forced to marry a man that she obviously wants nothing to do with.
The bear-feeding princess in “The Cunning Little Tailor”
This is another story about a princess who fights the patriarchy by using a challenge to stay single as long as she possibly can. However, she presents a riddle to her potential suitors instead of asking them to come up with one for her to answer, and she simply turns them away if she manages to stump them.
What makes this riddling royal one of the worst Grimm’s fairy tale princesses is how she responds when a tailor finally manages to solve her puzzle. Instead of agreeing to marry him, she promptly changes the rules by presenting another challenge: He must spend the night with a man-eating talking bear. The princess thinks that the beast will feast on the tailor, but he keeps the bear from snacking on him by feeding it fake nuts, playing the violin, and giving it a manicure. And the princess and the tailor live happily ever even though she tried to kill him.
The sorceress dragon princess in “The Singing, Springing Lark”
This story actually features two Grimm’s fairy tale princesses: a good one and an evil one. It starts out a bit like “Beauty and the Beast” when a father is forced to hand his daughter over to a talking lion. The lion is actually an enchanted prince who only turns into a beast during the day, so of course the girl marries him. The princess just has to get used to staying up all night and sleeping while the sun is up.
Things don’t go so well when the princess tries to hang out with her lion prince during the day. Because of his bizarre enchantment, getting hit with a ray of light turns him into a blood-dripping dove that must roam the world for seven years. His wife sets out on an arduous journey to find him, and she eventually discovers that he’s turned back into a lion. Unfortunately, his life is in danger because he’s busy fighting a dragon beside the Red Sea. But the dragon isn’t really a dragon – it’s an enchanted princess.
The good princess manages to save her lion lover, and, in the process, she helps the enchanted princess return to her true form. So how does the dragon princess repay the good princess? She kidnaps the lion prince, of course! The evil princess then places an enchantment spell on the prince that makes him forget about his original love, and he agrees to marry the sorceress. But don’t worry — his real wife shows up before the wedding and he remembers everything as soon as he sees his true love. It’s kind of cool that a princess actually saved the day in this one.
The frog-flinging princess in “The Frog King”
The bad princess in this fairy tale did get the Disney princess treatment, but she had to get an extreme makeover. Unlike Tiana from “The Princess and the Frog,” the girl in this story is born a princess. She also never actually kisses the frog prince in the Grimm’s fairy tale. Instead she makes a bargain with the frog: He’ll retrieve her beloved golden ball from a well if she agrees to let him eat from her plate and sleep in her bed.
The bratty girl pouts and complains when her father forces her to uphold her end of the bargain, and she decides that it’s simply too much when the frog tries to sleep in her bed — she angrily throws the creature against the wall after he asks to be tucked in. Snow White, Cinderella, and Sleeping Beauty would never treat one of their woodland friends in such a manner, but being an animal abuser pays off for the princess in this story. After hitting the wall, the frog turns into a prince and offers to make the bratty girl his bride. And they live happily ever after.