Name Meaning: “Princess”
Domain: New Orleans, Louisiana (1920’s)
Premiered in: The Princess and the Frog (2009)
Voiced By: Anika Noni Rose
I’m sure that many are all too aware of what makes Tiana distinct amongst the Disney Princesses but for those who aren’t allow me to state it plain as day. She is the first American Princess, which isn’t all too surprising considering her story takes place in New Orleans, Louisiana rather than a simple claimed territory named Virginia as was the case for Pocahontas. Sorry, but until somebody declared the land the United States of America, Tiana holds the title as first before Pocahontas. In point of fact, Tiana is also the most modern of the Disney Princesses with her reign being around the early era of the 1920’s just before the Great Depression as was evident in her keeping all her money in jars located throughout her home. That and for… other reasons… which I shan’t discuss beyond stating it was a time where people did not seem to comprehend that “we the people” means all the people and leave it at that.
With her being the most modernized of the Disney Princesses, Tiana is also the most realist of the bunch to a point that, frankly, she can come off as being… not really annoying per say but when a titular character acts in such a way that even the fairy godmother of the story comes close to face-palming, you know somebody is in desperate need of some childish fantasy in their lives. That’s not to say that Tiana’s realism wasn’t a dose of fresh air. I greatly appreciated that she had a clear set goal and was more than willing to work herself to the bone for it and even go so far as to get herself some scaly muscle to back her up in the arrangement but I’m getting ahead of myself.
Tiana is a royal by her marriage to Naveen whom I shall discuss in further detail next time as he, like his lovely wife, is a titular character to this story and plays a more important role than those that come before him. That being said, Tiana, much like Belle before her, doesn’t have any companions whom can strictly be called just her own and not be included alongside Naveen but between the two that played the most prevalent role to her personally, I’d say that Tiana’s closest companion is Louis with Ray being a close second. I say second only because of the little firefly’s helping Naveen come to term with his feelings for Tiana herself. As to Louis himself, I include him not just for the fact that he was the scaly muscle that ensured that Tiana got the building for her restaurant at a fair price but he does provide nightly entertainment with his amazing trumpet playing. Especially when one considers that, being an alligator, Louis doesn’t actually have any lips but I digress.
Tiana is also blessed with a childhood best friend named Charlotte La Bouf who is every bit Tiana’s opposite, having grown up as a metaphorical royal in that her father is a wealthy enough man to afford her almost constant need to be treated like a literal princess. She was also able to not only go with the situation of Naveen being cursed but took it incredibly well that the prince had feelings for her best friends. That said prince had a younger brother whom she is quoted as not minding waiting is a discussion for another time but the point remains that in such a time period, she was a remarkably good friend to Tiana, doing everything short of handing her the money she needed for her restaurant.
As to Tiana’s “Palace Pet” oh boy, where do I even begin? Well, to start with, her name is Lily and she’s a cat who happened to find her way into Tiana’s restaurant with the Princess herself thinking the little feline being attracted by the food when it was actually the music that drew her in. In point of fact, Lily’s talent happens to revolve around her being able to swing and dance to ragtime music. As far as origin stories and even naming are concerned, Lily’s is certainly one of the most realistic and fitting of the bunch. This is offset by her jewelry being stylized as swamp plants, something that is hardly dignifying for any cat I’m sure, and she’s lavender. Worse than that, she’s suffering from whatever genetic disorder has affected Ariel’s cat in that her tail seems to be mesh made to resemble watery waves.
As I’ve already stated earlier, Tiana’s domain is New Orleans and while I would certainly love to visit, I would only care for the modern incarnation and not the one of yester year. While I’m sure the past is an interesting place to behold, I don’t think I’d survive an era without modern technologies such as Wi-Fi or computers. That and the bigotry that I can hardly stand to read let alone watch in motion pictures. Actually, if I were to be fully honest, if there is one place in New Orleans that I’d like to see it is “Tiana’s Palace” as the restaurant itself not only looks positively amazing in illustrated form, but I’ve always wanted to try true southern style gumbo.
Contrary to what many might assume, Tiana did indeed get a redesign following the release of her film but hers is incredibly tamed in comparison to the Disney Princesses that came before her. In point of fact, the only real differences that I can see are the slight alteration to her hair and glittery stitching abounds. Still, I find it rather funny that her “princess dress” is in fact her first wedding dress. Oh, there’s another thing worth mentioning, Tiana is, thus far, the only Disney Princess to have not one but two weddings in her debut film, the first being when she and Naveen were “stuck” as frogs and the second for their human kin. After all, much as I’m sure Naveen was alright with the excuse of eloping, I’m sure Tiana’s mama would have more than a few words to say about not being able to do anything for her daughter’s wedding, human or frog.