How Do The Princess Diaries Movies Differ From the Books?

The Princess Diaries might seem like a modern princess tale that Disney created, but the movie series starring Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews is actually based on a book series by Meg Cabot. With Disney announcing that The Princess Diaries 3 is officially in the works, it’s time to analyze the differences in this book-to-movie adaptation.


The books and the movies follow Mia Thermopolis, an ordinary girl who discovers she’s a princess of a small European country called Genovia. From Mia’s main love interest to her dad being alive, here is a list of key differences between The Princess Diaries books and movies.

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Mia Thermopolis and Michael Moscovitz Are Endgame

Michael might give Mia a foot-popping kiss in the first movie, but off-screen, they break up in the time between the two movies. Fans of the books were crushed at this development because, in the novels, these two young lovers are actually endgame. After a brief separation where Mia dates other guys, Mia and Michael get married in the eleventh book. Now, fans are hoping for justice to be brought to their fairytale romance in the third movie and for Michael to return, so they can still get their well-deserved happily ever after.

Nicholas Devereaux Isn’t One of Mia’s Love Interests

Mia and Sir Nicholas The Princess Diaries 2

The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement introduces a swoon-worthy new love interest for Mia, delivering a wonderful enemies-to-lovers romance. But ultimately, despite Chris Pine’s many charms, Nicholas Devereaux was only a character created for the movie world. Mia does date several other guys, including her best friend Lilly’s ex-boyfriend, JP, in the books, but she ultimately ends up with her longtime love, Michael.

Mia and Lilly Have a Major Falling Out

Mia and Lilly The Princess Diaries

In the books, Mia ends up dating Lilly’s ex-boyfriend, JP, causing a major falling out between the lifelong best friends. Later, it’s revealed that Lilly wasn’t mad at Mia for dating JP but for breaking her brother Michael’s heart and for Mia not seeing that JP was using her. In the first movie, Mia and Lilly have a small fight over Mia not showing up to be on Lilly’s radio show and being too busy to hang out because of her princess training, but they quickly mend their friendship.

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Mia and Lana Become Surprisingly Close Friends

Mia and Lana The Princess Diaries

One surprising difference in the books is that Mia and her longtime nemesis, Lana, actually become close friends. Lana is Mia’s biggest tormentor in the movies, and the books aren’t much different. Except in the books, after Mia’s falling out with Lilly, Lana apologizes to her, and they form an unlikely but supportive friendship that lasts for the rest of the series.

Mia’s Dad Is Alive – And She Has Another Sibling

Mia's Dad The Princess Diaries

Another key difference in the books is that Mia’s dad isn’t dead. He was an absent father who died off-screen in an accident in the movies, but in the books, he’s alive despite a short battle with testicular cancer. In another surprising twist, Mia has a half-sister, Olivia, who has a spin-off book series called From the Notebook of a Middle School Princess. Mia also forms a deep bond with Olivia and battles for custody of her in the eleventh book.

Mia’s Friend Group Is More Diverse and She’s From New York

Diversity The Princess Diaries 2

The one issue with this classic Disney movie series is the lack of diversity. We briefly see some diversity in the second movie with princesses from other nations. However, the books show more diversity in Mia’s immediate friend group and her family because Mia’s half-sister, Olivia, is half-black. Mia is also from a different state. In the movies, Mia is from San Francisco, but in the books, she’s a born and bred New Yorker.

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Mia’s Story Is Told Through Her Diary Entries

Mia The Princess Diaries

Mia’s diary rarely makes an appearance in the movies, but the books are told entirely through Mia’s diary entries. There are a few key moments where Mia is seen writing in her diary in the movies, accompanied by voice-overs explaining new developments in her life. But for a series called The Princess Diaries, the titular diary should be more present.

Mia Isn’t Crowned Queen of Genovia…Yet!

Queen Mia Thermopolis of Genovia The Princess Diaries 2

The biggest difference in the books is that Mia isn’t crowned Queen of Genovia…yet. In the eleventh book, Mia is desperately trying to convince Genovia that she can rule after her father abdicates the throne to be with her mother. At the end of the second movie, Mia successfully convinces Genovia that she can rule without getting married and is crowned Queen, leaving the potential for The Princess Diaries 3 to be about her journey as a newly crowned Queen.

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