It's almost twenty years since The Princess Diaries convinced us that, yes, we're definitely the secret heir to a minor European country, and yes, Julie Andrews is definitely our fairy godmother. The film made a star of Anne Hathaway, gave us a hankering for M&M pizza, and had us Googling 'Is Genovia a place?', and we do love a rewatch. Luckily for us, the film and its sequel can now be found on Disney +, so we've made the most of lockdown with a double bill.
Obviously, we have our fingers crossed for the rumoured third installment in the franchise (seriously Anne Hathaway, make this happen), but at this point it's not looking like it will go into production anytime soon. So we've trawled the archives to find you the best bits of Princess trivia. Read, enjoy and remember: 'A Queen is never late. Everyone else is simply early'
1. The Princess Diaries marked Anne Hathaway’s first ever movie role
Before Andy Sachs, before Fantine, there was… Mia Thermopolis! Anne had some experience in acting and TV, but had never made the leap to the silver screen
2. Four cats played the role of Mia’s pet, Fat Louis
One of the cats allowed people to carry him, one could sit still, a ‘stunt’ cat was needed for jumps and a different cat altogether was used for the final scene of the film. The magic of cinema, eh?
3. One of them was actually Anne Hathaway’s real life pet
When art imitates life…
4. The film was originally titled The Princess of Tribeca
It would have been set in New York, like Meg Cabot’s original book series, but producers eventually decided to set the film in San Francisco. We're very relieved that they didn't mess with Meg's original title.
5. Anne Hathaway had to wear a clip-in hairpiece to create Mia’s pre-Princess mane
It was affectionately nicknamed ‘the beast’ by the cast and crew. We had a soft spot for her pre-makeover look though.
6. Her eyebrows took about an hour to apply
Each tiny hair had to be individually glued in place. Which makes our morning brow routine look rather low maintenance by comparison, really.
7. Hector Elizondo, who plays bodyguard Joe, has appeared in every single film that Garry Marshall directed
That includes impactful roles in Pretty Woman, Runaway Bride and Raising Helen. He’s also the reason we can attribute the ‘no one can make you feel inferior without your consent’ quote to Eleanor Roosevelt. Fact. Thanks Hector.
8. The photograph of Mia's father in the film's opening scenes is actually a snap of Anne Hathaway's dad
For added realism. Did he get a paycheque for that? Who knows.
9. Julie Andrews wore half a million dollars’ worth of diamonds on her jewellery and tiara in the final scene of the film
They’d been loaned from legendary jewellers Harry Winston. If Julie Andrews needs diamonds, you oblige.
10. Anne’s tiara was custom made, but quite a lot cheaper
In place of diamonds, her crown was decked out in cubic zirconia. One imagines she'd warrant the real thing now, though.
11. Mia's ball gown is based on a dress worn by Princess Victoria of Sweden
The royal wore the original to the Nobel Prize gala in 1997.
12. The Princess Diaries was filmed on Stage 2 at the Walt Disney Studios in California – the same stage on which Mary Poppins was filmed
It has since been named the Julie Andrews stage – the legendary actress starred in both films. And, coincidentally, Anne would later star in The Devil Wears Prada with Emily Blunt, who played the iconic nanny in the recent sequell.
13. During filming, director Garry Marshall stayed in the same house that Julie Andrews had rented during Mary Poppins
History repeating itself. Sort of.
14. Kathleen Marshall, who plays Queen Clarisse’s aide Charlotte, is the daughter of the director
Kathleen has popped up in other Garry Marshall films. And Marshall himself also has a brief cameo in the film at the Genovian independence ball.
15. Musician and actress Juliette Lewis was initially offered the role of Mia, but turned it down
Afterwards, the studio approached the likes of Kirsten Dunst, Alicia Silverstone, Jessica Biel and Claire Danes before getting in touch with Anne Hathaway. Setting in motion the career of one of America's biggest actresses.
16. Anne was cast after one audition, without even doing a screen test
She won the producers over by accidentally falling off her chair in a very Mia-esque manner...
17. Marshall's twin granddaughters also played a part in landing Hathaway the role
They saw her audition tape and claimed that she had the best 'princess hair.'
18. They ended up having a brief cameo in the film, too
They're the little girls who ask Princess Mia for autographs.
19. The scene where Mia trips when walking along the bleachers? All real!
Hathaway's blooper made the director laugh so much that he left it in the final cut.
20. Anne Hathaway went out dressed in character while she was filming
She later said 'I've never felt so alone in my life.'
21. Genovia is in the European Union
That's if it existed, of course. The EU flag hangs alongside the Genovian flag over the door at the consulate building.
22. Whitney Houston was one of the film's three producers
She also produced the sequel, Royal Engagement_._
23. You can actually play on the arcade games that Mia shows her grandmother on their San Francisco excursion
They're found at the Musée Mechanique on Pier 45.
24. The Genovian Consulate, meanwhile, is actually Mount Saint Mary's University in California
BRB, just off to some lectures at the Genovian Embassy...
25. When Mia messes up at a society dinner, a waiter says 'it happens all the time.' The same actor played a waiter in Pretty Woman
He also says the same line to Julia Roberts' character, Vivian. Both films were directed by Marshall. Meta.
26. When Michael's band perform, they're singing a song called Blueside by actor Robert Schwartzman's real-life band, Rooney
They also appeared on a vintage episode of The OC, FYI.
27. When filming the final dance scene, the crew played Madonna's Like A Prayer to make the cast dance properly
It had to be dubbed over in the final edit (sorry, Madge) and multiple takes were required - the cast members kept mouthing along to the lyrics...