Last month, Rapunzel was welcomed into the Disney Royal Court in a magnificent Disney Princess Parade and Rapunzel Celebration in London. An estimated 25,000 Disney Princess fans gathered outside in the unexpected October sunshine to wave to the princesses as they rode through London’s Kensington Gardens in elegant horse-drawn carriages.
Having hosted the UK Rapunzel Party on Twitter the previous afternoon, I was invited to bring my 4 year old daughter Mads and her best friend Rosie along to meet Rapunzel, and to join in the celebrations for her official welcome as the 10th Disney Princess.
Needless to say, I have never before seen two happier little girls. Skipping along towards Kensington Palace in their Disney Princess costumes, the girls were positively beaming with joy and anticipation. Usually not much of a softie, I found myself welling up (I know!!) just looking at their little faces as the first carriage came into view.
First, though, the girls were treated to a Rapunzel-style visit to a glittering salon in the Orangery, where they were fussed over by lovely and incredibly talented hairdressers. The girls watched wide-eyed in their little hand-mirrors as the hairdressers attached Rapunzel-esque hair extensions – precisely matching the shade of their own hair – and adorned them with little hairbands and clips.
Moments later, Palace staff guided us toward the long tree-lined walk to a spot where we could stand and watch the carriages go past. The excitement and in the air was palpable, with all the little girls chattering to each other on the edge of the path wearing their little Princess dresses (of course) and holding their long tresses.
I have to say I was not sure what to expect – Disney has a reputation for excess, and while those big, over-the-top gestures fit perfectly in Disneyland Paris, or at the O2, Kensington Palace didn’t exactly feel like the right setting for a frilly pink Disney Princess fairytale. I couldn’t imagine how the British would react to a parade of glittering and ornate blue and pink carriages and costumed Disney characters. Then again, in my experience, every Disney event and performance I’ve been to has always been run with precision, and has always suited the audience to a tee… so perhaps…?
From the second the carriage carrying Snow White rounded the corner, I knew we were in for a treat. Far from Disney-style excess, the procession was tasteful, understated and quintessentially British. There were gallant footmen, beautiful and strong horses, and simple polished open-top black carriages. They could just as easily have carried Will and Kate.
In each carriage sat one of the Disney Princesses, poised, beautiful and smiling in the sunshine, waving and chatting with the children, the vivid colours of her ballgown simply striking in contrast with the black of the carriage.
In short, the procession was magnificent and suited to a real princess - Disney couldn’t have done it better.
Scroll down to the bottom for more photographs of Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty (Princess Aurora), Belle (Beauty and the Beast), Princess Jasmine (Aladdin), Princess Tiana (The Princess and the Frog), Pocahantas, Mulan, Ariel (The Little Mermaid), and of course Rapunzel.
Princess Aurora (Sleeping Beauty) burst into an even bigger smile when she spotted Mads grinning at her and waving frantically, wearing her own tiny version of her signature long sleeved pink gown. The carriage stopped right in front of us, and Aurora and Mads had the sweetest little chat about her outfit. Rosie too had a wonderful moment with Cinderella, whose blue gown she had chosen to wear for the big day. When Rapunzel’s carriage stopped right in front of us and the girls chattered away happily with her about her big day, I thought the day just couldn’t get any better and just know they’ll remember that moment for the rest of their lives.
After the procession, we were invited inside the palace for Rapunzel’s official welcome into the Disney Royal Court as the 10th Disney Princess. With us were another 20 parents and their beaming children, including Celebrity Dad of the Year Peter Andre, former ballerina and Strictly Come Dancing judge Darcey Bussell, and Nicole Richie. The children all got to choose their own little pink or purple circular rug to sit on just in front of the small stage, and my two of course found their places right up at the front so they wouldn’t miss a thing.
The ceremony itself was magical, with appearances by Fairy Godmother and all of the princesses, and even a surprise appearance from the ever-so-handsome swashbuckler Flynn Rider. The highlight, though, was a stunning performance by 17 year old British singer Shannon Saunders of The Glow, the official theme song from Disney’s 50th animated film, Tangled. Mads and Rosie even got to stand on the stage and have a little twirl with Rapunzel herself.
After the performance, the girls had a chance to explore the rest of the Orangery looking for Pascal hiding in the grass, to have their faces painted, and to step inside a replica of Mother Gothel’s tower – complete with iron skillet! We finished the day making some paper lanterns to hang on a tree, and chilling out in the shade enjoying a story.
Watching my girls’ faces as day unfolded gave me such pleasure, especially knowing that they will remember those moments for years to come. My secret Christmas present to both of them (and to myself!) is a bound album with our favourite photos from the day, and I just can’t wait until they open it.
We are looking forward to the special TV programme about Rapunzel’s big day, which follows five little girls who were treated to an even more wonderful experience than Mads and Rosie, if that’s possible! Disney Princess: A Royal Celebration airs on the Disney Channel this Friday, 25th November at 3:55 p.m. Disney Princess fans can catch the TV special again on Sunday, 27th November at 1:35 p.m. on Disney Cinemagic. Here’s a preview…
A heartfelt thank you to Disney and to Historic Royal Palaces for hosting this magical event, and to Peter Andre for making me blush with a designer-stubble-double-cheek kiss.
Below are photographs of Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty (Princess Aurora), Belle (Beauty and the Beast), Princess Jasmine (Aladdin), Princess Tiana (The Princess and the Frog), Pocahantas, Mulan, Ariel (The Little Mermaid), and of course Rapunzel. Click on the thumbnails below to view larger images, and please do email me if you’d like to use any photos or if you’d like a high res version to print as a Christmas or birthday present for your little girl!