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The Princess Diaries is a comedy-drama film and the screen adaptation of Meg Cabot's 2000 novel of the same name. The film stars Anne Hathaway as Mia Thermopolis, a teenager who discovers that she is the heir to the throne of the fictional Genovia, ruled by her grandmother, Queen Clarisse Renaldi, who is portrayed by Julie Andrews. It also stars Heather Matarazzo as Mia's best friend Lilly Moscovitz, Héctor Elizondo as Renaldi's head of security, and Robert Schwartzman as Lilly's brother, who has a crush on Mia.

It was released to North American theatres on August 3 2001 and peaked at number three in the box office. The Princess Diaries produced ticket sales well over its production budget.


Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) is a fifteen-year-old tenth grade private school student who lives with her mother Helen Thermopolis (Caroline Goodall) and her cat, Fat Louie, in a San Franciscomarker firehouse. Her father, Philippe Renaldi (who was divorced but in touch with her) died two months earlier in a car crash. Although Mia is an average student, she is very unpopular, but has two good friends: Lilly Moscovitz (Heather Matarazzo) and Lilly's older brother, Michael Moscovitz (Robert Schwartzman).

Shortly before Mia's sixteenth birthday, she learns from her mother that her paternal grandmother is visiting from Genovia, a fictional country in Europe (which bears some similarity to the actual Republic of Genoa). At first Mia does not want to see her, but agrees later. The next day, Mia meets her grandmother, Clarisse Renaldi (Julie Andrews), at the Genovian consulate for the first time, who explains that the reason she wanted to see her was because of a "life-changing" problem. She learns that her father was the crown prince of Genovia and she is the next crown princess of Genovia and the only heir to the Genovian throne because of her father's death. She was shocked to learn that she is a princess.

Mia's mother and grandmother convince her to attend "princess lessons" in preparation for her introduction to the Genovian government, under supervision from her new bodyguard, the head of Genovian security, Joseph (Héctor Elizondo). To look more presentable to the Genovian government, Mia receives a makeover from Italian hairdresser Paolo (Larry Miller).

A couple of days later, the San Francisco Chronicle learns that Mia is the Genovian heir after Paolo tells the media so everybody will know that he is the one that made Princess Mia look like a princess. Although unimpressed, Clarisse opts to ignore the situation and prepares for the State Dinner, which Mia attends. The day after the State Dinner, Mia agrees to appear on Lilly's public-access television program Shut Up and Listen and to watch Michael's band perform at a venue that Saturday night. Mia is almost 16 so she is almost able to drive a car, (her "baby", a Ford Mustang.) She takes a test drive with her grandmother and takes her to the arcade, and buys her a corndog. When they are driving back, Mia's grandmother tries to teach Mia of knowing what to use when driving a car. All goes well until Mia catches a very steep hill which causes her to crash into a bus load.

Josh asks Mia to go with him to the Baker Beach Bash, the school's annual beach party, and she excitedly agrees. She remembers to tell Michael that she will watch his band the following Saturday night, but forgets to tell Lilly of the change. The beach party goes well at first, but spirals out of control when the media learn of Mia's presence. Josh publicly embarrasses her by kissing her in front of photographers. This causes a media frenzy and displeases Clarisse. Clarisse then gets a wake up call from Joe, telling her that she has to remember that although Mia is a princess, and the heir to her throne, Mia is still her granddaughter. To reconstruct her friendships with Lilly and Michael, Mia invites them to the Genovian Independence Day Ball, where she must reveal whether or not she wants to accept her duties as a princess. Originally intent on running away to Coloradomarker because she wants to avoid renouncing her throne with a speech (Mia is terrible at public speaking), Mia finds a sixteenth birthday gift and letter from her father, written before his death. After reading the letter, she changes her mind and makes her way to the ball, as it begins raining. Her car's roof will not go up though, so she is stuck driving in the rain and her car breaks down when she attempts to go up an incredibly steep hill. Joe finds her drenched halfway to the event. Upon arrival, Mia makes a speech announcing her acceptance to the Genovian throne. Michael then takes her outside where they share their first kiss and become a couple. Clarisse and Joe also walk out of the Genovian consulate holding hands, showing sparks of a relationship.



The film was directed by Garry Marshall and produced by Debra Martin Chase and Whitney Houston. Anne Hathaway was hired for the role of Mia because Gary Marshall's granddaughters saw her audition tape and said she had the best "princess hair."

Héctor Elizondo, who appears in all the films which Garry Marshall directs, plays Joseph "Joe", the head of Genovian security. Garry Marshall's daughter, Kathleen Marshall, plays Clarisse's secretary Charlotte Kutaway. Charlotte's surname is mentioned only in the credits, and Garry Marshall says it is a reference to how she is often used in cutaway shots. In one scene, Robert Schwartzman's real-life group Rooney makes a cameo playing a garage band named Flypaper, whose lead singer is Michael, played by Schwartzman.

The book was set in New York Citymarker, but the film's location was changed to San Francisco because Marshall's granddaughters lived there. West coast radio personalities Mark & Brian appear as themselves.

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, the film's sequel, was released in August2004.


The film opened to $22,862,269 from 2,537 theaters in the U.S. and ended its run with $165,335,153 worldwide. Reviews were mostly mixed as Rotten Tomatoes came up with a 47% rotten rating with 52 out of 111 critics recommending the movie.


Awards and nominations

Year Award For Notes
2001 Heartland Award of Excellence
2002 ALMA Award - Outstanding Song in a Motion Picture Soundtrack "Miracles Happen" by Myra Nominated
ASCAP Top Box Office Film John Debney
Artios Award - Best Casting for Feature Film, Comedy Marcia Ross

Donna Morong

Gail Goldberg
BFCA Award - Best Family Film - Live Action
Golden Trailer Award - Best Animation/Family
Hollywood Makeup Artist Hair Stylist Guild Award - Best Contemporary Makeup - Feature Hallie D'Amore

Leonard Engelman
MTV Movie Award - Breakthrough Female Performance Anne Hathaway
Teen Choice Award - Film - Choice Actress, Comedy Anne Hathaway
Teen Choice Award - Film - Choice Movie, Comedy
Young Artist Award - Best Family Feature Film - Comedy


  • Philippe Renaldi death in a car accident seems to be an allusion to Princess Diana's death, who too died in a car accident.

Notes and references

  1. The Princess Diaries DVD commentary. A behind-the-scenes look at the film's production. Retrieved October 9 2006.
  2. "Hector Elizondo: Humor, Eloquence & Bongos". Screen Actors Guild Foundation. July 30 2002. Retrieved October 9 2006.

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