Princess Profile: Cinderella
Cinderella turns 70 this year, and yet unbelievably, one of our favourite princesses is just as popular today as she was when she made her debut on screen in the 1950 Disney classic.
The moving rags to riches tale has touched hearts around the globe – it’s impossible not to root for the young woman who finds joyful moments in her life of sadness and servitude even before her fortunes are reversed by a royal encounter.
We’ve put together everything you need to know about the pure-hearted Disney princess in this handy guide below. Find out all the answers to questions like ‘Who is Cinderella?’ and ‘How old is Cinderella?’ for all the fun facts every Cinderella superfan should know.
Who is Cinderella?
Cinderella is a gentle, kind princess with a heart of gold and a fondness for animals. Born to wealthy, loving parents, and growing up in a beautiful manor house with picturesque grounds, Cinderella was all set to live a comfortable, fulfilled life.
Sadly, Cinderella’s life changed completely when she lost both of her parents and was entrusted into the care of her wicked stepmother. Deprived of her wealth and forced to give up all luxuries, Cinderella became a servant in her own home.
As the years passed by, Cinderella grew into a young woman whose beauty matched her pure, selfless personality. Clear skinned and slim with bouncy long blonde hair and twinkling blue eyes, Cinderella’s captivating charm means she’s often kept out of sight by her jealous stepfamily.
Although Cinderella has no opportunity to meet other people, she isn’t lonely. Cinderella has a whole host of animal friends to turn to, including the household dog Bruno, her father’s horse Major, the birds and her beloved mice Jaq and Gus, who also live in the manor house.
How old is Cinderella?
No-one can be completely sure of Cinderella’s exact age but in the Disney movie, the princess is estimated to be 19 years old.
The film touches on Cinderella’s childhood, showing how she lost her mother at a young age. A few years later, Cinderella’s father remarries Lady Tremaine, a widower with two daughters around the same age as Cinderella.
Although Cinderella’s father hopes his new wife will be as devoted a mother to Cinderella as she is to her own two girls, Lady Tremaine’s real nature becomes clear when a few years later, Cinderella’s father sadly dies.
From this point onwards, the heart-broken girl is forced to spend her teenage years waiting hand and foot on her stepmother and stepsisters – a situation that endures into early adulthood for our sweet-souled princess.
What’s the original Cinderella story?
The original story of Cinderella – also known as The Little Glass Slipper – is a folk tale that’s been told around the world for centuries, in a number of different versions.
An ancient story dating back to Greece in the sixth century BCE is believed to be the first version of Cinderella, in which an eagle steals the shoe of a Greek servant girl and drops it in the lap of an Egyptian king on the other side of the Mediterranean Sea.
Meanwhile, in the Chinese version, Ye Xian, from the ninth century, a young girl creates a gown from magical fishbones in the hopes of finding a husband. Her matching shoe, with a goldfish scale pattern, comes into the possession of a king, who sets out to find the woman whose foot will fit the tiny shoe.
More recently, in the 17th century, the tale of Cinderella was told by French author Charles Perrault – widely recognised as the founder of the modern fairy tale genre.
Before the Brothers Grimm appeared on the scene 100 years later, Perrault had already penned Cendrillon (Cinderella) alongside other much-loved classics like Little Red Riding Hood, Sleeping Beauty and Puss in Boots.
How did Cinderella get her name?
Cinderella is an adaptation of the original French Cendrillon, meaning little ashes. In English, cinders are the black, sooty remains of burnt coal or wood.
When Cinderella was forced by her stepfamily to become a scullery maid, one of her duties was to light the fires in various rooms of the manor house, which could be a messy task.
Cinders easily stain hands and clothes, and Cinderella would have undoubtedly become dirty with ash.
In older versions of the Cinderella tale, the girl was known to have slept on the ashes of the fireplace in the kitchen for warmth, leaving her clothes, skin and hair stained with cinders.
Who is Cinderella’s fairy godmother?
Cinderella’s fairy godmother appears as a symbol of hope at Cinderella’s darkest moment, when her dreams of going to the ball are dashed by her mean stepsisters.
With her dress torn to shreds, Cinderella has nothing to wear to the ball and resigns herself to having to stay at home. As her stepmother and stepsisters set off to meet the prince, Cinderella sobs in the garden.
A moment later, a kindly old lady appears, and soothes a surprised Cinderella. The gentle woman introduces herself as Cinderella’s fairy godmother, with magical powers to ensure that Cinderella can go to the ball after all.
With the magic words Bibbidi-Bobbidi-Boo and a wave of her wand, the fairy godmother sings her spells and the garden is filled with enchantment as Cinderella’s dreams become reality.
How did Cinderella go to the ball?
Cinderella couldn’t imagine how she could possibly go to the ball, with no means of getting there and nothing to wear. Her fairy godmother, however, has other ideas.
Weaving her magic, the kind old lady turns a pumpkin into a beautiful carriage, and Cinderella’s mice become handsome coachmen.
Cinderella’s dress is transformed from rags into a glittering ballgown, her hair is swept up and adorned with a tiara and, as a finishing touch, the fairy godmother creates a dainty pair of glass slippers for Cinderella.
Before Cinderella sets off for the ball, the fairy godmother warns her that the magic will only last until midnight – hurry back home before the clock strikes 12, Cinderella!
Who is Cinderella’s prince?
When Cinderella arrives at the royal ball, the party has already begun. She enters the ballroom late and immediately catches the eye of the dashing prince.
Without a thought, Prince Charming pushes through the crowds to meet this mystery maiden. Cinderella and Prince Charming dance together all evening, and there’s no doubt that the pair have fallen madly in love.
Before Prince Charming learns her name, Cinderella hears the clock chiming in the distance – it’s almost midnight! She dashes away as the magic begins to unravel, leaving behind one of her glass slippers in her haste.
Running after Cinderella, Prince Charming finds the slipper and vows to search the kingdom until he finds his true love.
How does Cinderella end?
After years of working as a servant in her own home, Cinderella returns from the ball happy and contented – even though she has to take up her tasks once again.
Still in a dream-like state, the young woman catches the attention of her wicked stepmother, who senses that something has changed.
When the king’s men arrive at the manor house with the glass slipper, Lady Tremaine’s daughters try on the shoe, but it’s just too small for their rather large feet. Insisting that there is nobody else at the property, Lady Tremaine ushers the men to the door, but Cinderella appears just in time.
Lady Tremaine carries out a final evil act by tripping a footman, causing the slipper to crash to the ground and shatter. Luckily, reaching into her pocket, Cinderella reveals that she has kept the other slipper.
The story has a happy ending; with Cinderella safely away from the clutches of her evil stepfamily at last, the happy couple get wed and embark on their new life together.
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