Prince Philip the Duke of Edinburgh was laid to rest a few weeks ago at the age of 99. A member of the most popular monarchy in the world and the longest-serving consort in history, his passing undeniably reverberated all across the globe. While most took to social media to mourn the prince, others found comfort instead in rewatching Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. Why? Well, fans of the film seem to believe that Prince Phillip in the classic fairytale was actually inspired by the late British royal.
It’s an apparent fact that’s been present on the movie’s IMDB page and other Disney fansites for years but has only recently been brought to public knowledge after news of Prince Philip’s death. It could also explain why Sleeping Beauty’s Prince Phillip was the first Disney prince to have a name. FYI, prior to the film’s release in 1959—Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip had already been married for 12 years at the time—the prince in Snow White (1937) was simply named The Prince, while the one in Cinderella (1950) only went by Prince Charming.
A now widely shared theory explains that animators patterned the Disney prince after the Duke of Edinburgh because he was the prince Americans were most familiar with at the time.
So is it all true? While we’ve yet to come across official confirmation from the House of Mouse itself, University of Edinburgh lecturer Sarah Dunnigan, who’s studied fairy tale traditions, tells entertainment website Tyla that the link is highly plausible "due to the huge popularity and idealization of the British royal family in America in the late 1950s."
That said, UCLA animation lecturer Charles Solomon believes differently and calls the whole thing an “urban myth.” He shares with Tyla that he’s actually done extensive research on Sleeping Beauty before but he’s never read nor heard of anything to support the claims, “not in the interviews with the artists, nor in the Disney archives.” He continues: "Frankly, I doubt the Duke of Edinburgh got that much attention in the America in the mid '50s when the film was being made or that the Disney artists would have had much interest in him."
Though we can’t know the truth for sure, the fact remains that Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth II’s love story is a real life fairytale. The two were married for a long and impressive 73 years before the former’s passing last April 9, 2021.