Flashback Friday: The Princess Diaries

The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot

I am of the Princess Diaries generation. I was given the first two novels for my 10th birthday. When I was 11, Anne Hathaway brought Mia Thermopolis to life. The movie also featured Mandy Moore as mean girl Lana, so it was pretty much early 2000s perfection. Add on to that a soundtrack that was the perfect belting fodder for a tween girl. I continued hanging out with Mia well throughout my teen years.The novels also began my lifelong love of Meg Cabot.

With the summer release of Royal Wedding, an adult installment of the Princess Diaries franchise, following Mia’s engagement to Michael, and the announcement that a 3rd Princess Diaries movie is in the works, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to acknowledge the role The Princess Diaries played for a generation of young women.

I connected Mia so much. She overthought everything. She was somewhat spastic. And, she journaled (I was a big journal keeper in my teens). She was down to earth and awkward. She was the inner spirit of so many girls. And she got to be a princess. It was the dream. And it also gave me confidence that if even princesses can be like this, I would be fine.

I also love the differences between the movies and the books, allowing me to enjoy different story lines in both. I obviously lamented the loss of Michael in the movie series, but I got to keep him in the books. And I loved Mia’s friends. Loud-mouthed activist Lilly. And Tina, who was obsessed with romance novels.

One of the most entertaining differences to me is Mia’s grandmother. Julie Andrews is a beautiful human soul, and that will never change. She mastered the art of tough love in the movies, but there was always a love, kindness, and wisdom behind everything. Because that is Julie Andrews. Not the case in the books. In Cabot’s novels, Clarisse Renaldo chain-smokes, paints on her eyebrows, and is convinced everyone is in love with her her. She is prickly, and it is almost impossible to tell whether she feels filial affection for her granddaughter. She is crafty though. And has basically no filter. Both versions of Mia’s grandmother are delightful.

Before we go, enjoy two of my favorite tracks from the soundtrack.

I’m hoping a new generation of girls will also fall in love with these novels, especially with a new middle-grade spinoff series Cabot has recently released.