Films for all ages are fascinated with royalty, but royal characters are not always shown in the best light. Whether it be a tyrant or a brat, many films use royalty as an obstacle. Some films do have a more favorable view of royalty, but for whatever reason, most of these focus on princesses. From The Princess Bride‘s Prince Humperdinck (Chris Sarandon) to Robin Hood‘s Prince John (Peter Ustinov), there are plenty of examples of stuck-up princes in films. But well-developed princes who are actually good people are harder to come by. Yet that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Some of these characters use the audience’s expectation that these men will be less-than-great humans, while others simply defy the trope. Here are a few fictional princes who break the mold by proving themselves to actually be decent people.
Prince Phillip (‘Sleeping Beauty’)
One of the classic Disney princes and one of the best Disney love interests, Sleeping Beauty‘s Prince Phillip (Bill Shirley), rescues Aurora (Mary Costa) from the evil Maleficent (Eleanor Audley), but he proves himself long before that. When he meets a girl in the woods and falls madly in love, he returns to his father to announce that he will be marrying her. When his father attempts to argue about her status (let alone the agreement they have with King Stefan) Phillip good-humoredly insists that his father is behind the times. If fact, Phillip shows no hint of changing his mind until he learns that the girl he met was actually the princess he was meant to marry in the first place. Then he is more than willing to fight a dragon in her name. But more than that, Phillip is the first Disney prince to receive any focus after the princes from Snow White and the Seven Dwarves and Cinderella were just there as a function of the happy ending. Phillip is the quintessential fairy-tale prince plus a personality.
Related: The 10 Best Unofficial Disney Princesses and Why Each of Them Deserves Their Shot at a Crown
T’Challa (‘Captain America: Civil War’)
The MCU’s T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) may not be a prince long, but he sure is a good one. Before he ascends and takes the throne as Wakanda’s king in Black Panther, he is the prince traveling with his father to a diplomatic conference when his father is killed in the attack. As a dedicated son, T’Challa vows to avenge his father and begins chasing Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan). T’Challa gets caught up with the Avengers as they fight but ultimately discovers that Bucky wasn’t truly responsible for his father’s death. He catches Zemo (Daniel Brühl), the real culprit, and turns him over to the authorities rather than taking revenge himself. Then T’Challa admits his mistake, offering Bucky asylum in Wakanda. Though he isn’t a prince for long in the film series, it’s because he is such a good prince that he can go on to be a good king — not to mention a better man than most superheroes.
Prince Caspian (‘The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian’)
With many different royals in Narnia, Caspian (Ben Barnes) is the only one to hold the title of prince. His family may have come in as conquerors, banning the magical inhabitants of Narnia to the forest, but when Caspian learns the truth, he fights for the old Narnians, bringing peace to the kingdom. Throughout the film, Caspian works towards that goal, leading the Narnians in a war against the Telmarines. When the Pevensie children show up, he expects to give up his crown and is willing to do so for the sake of the Narnian people. When handed the moment to end the war and kill his uncle Miraz (Sergio Castellitto) who had usurped his throne, Caspian instead chooses to forgive the man. Of course, the war cannot end that easily, but the moment still proves Caspian’s goodness.
Prince Charmont (‘Ella Enchanted’)
From the perspective of Ella (Anne Hathaway), Prince Charmont (Hugh Dancy) is the arrogant prince that many may expect, but as she gets to know him, she realizes that isn’t true. He is happy to save her on several occasions. Though he is somewhat oblivious to the issues facing his citizens, he is willing to listen and try to find a solution with very little prompting from Ella. Char is too trusting of his uncle Edgar (Cary Elwes), who is trying to kill him. But these flaws are easily overcome. And his heart is always in the right place, as seen in his quickness to negotiate with the Giants and willingness to advocate for Slannen (Aidan McArdle).
Prince Edward (‘Enchanted’)
Another kind-hearted but naive prince can be found in Disney’s modern fairytale, Enchanted. In this film, Edward (James Marsden) allows himself to be manipulated by his evil stepmother but quickly follows his bride-to-be, Giselle (Amy Adams), into danger. He is enthusiastic, brave, and doesn’t hesitate to help others when he can. Believing it to be a monster, he doesn’t hesitate to slay a bus to rescue the “peasants.” Edward is also willing to go along with Giselle’s idea to go on a date despite being anxious to get home. Additionally, when he discovers Giselle is in love with Robert (Patrick Dempsey) instead of him, he doesn’t begrudge them a thing. And Disenchanted shows that he managed to stay friends with the couple despite living in different worlds.
Bail Organa (‘Star Wars’)
Bail Organa (Jimmy Smits) has many titles, including senator, Viceroy, and prince. His wife, Breha, is Alderaan’s queen, so he is styled as the prince. Though she may be the planet’s leader, he has plenty of political savvy. He represents Alderaan in the Galactic Republic and is responsible for maintaining their relationship with other planets. But he is most remembered for defying the Empire and building the Rebellion. Few people in his position were brave enough to openly fight the Empire, and although he disguises it enough to not be killed, he is willing to go further than most. Bail is instrumental in the Rebellion, never comprising his beliefs despite the danger to him and his family. Plus, he raises Leia (Carrie Fisher) to be the principled and courageous woman she is.
Legolas (‘Lord of the Rings’)
The character is not referred to by this title, but his father is the king of the Woodland Realm of Northern Mirkwood, making Legolas (Orlando Bloom) a prince. But just as the title is ignored, you would never know it by his behavior. Legolas willingly joins a dangerous quest to save the world, despite the fact that most elves choose to abandon Middle-earth. On top of that, he defies deep-seated hatred toward the Dwarven race to befriend Gimli (John Rhys-Davies). His willingness to give up safety and comfort to fight Sauron and protect the good that remained in Middle-earth makes him a good person, defying the prince stigma.