Sheathe your weapons. I am not writing today to put forth a wacky original theory or shoot down anyone else's original characters. No, instead this an attempt at something more lighthearted now that I have some time to wind down. I am finally explaining a certain fact which has greatly influenced my activity and reputation on this wiki but which I have never discussed in detail: Princess Celestia is my #1 pony.
Now, some folks might find this declaration a little odd, and I wouldn't blame them. The meaning is obvious, but Princess Celestia is, in some regards, one of the most mysterious characters in Friendship is Magic. It can be hard to find something likable about such a cryptic, undeveloped, and apparently undefined character. Therefore, I mean to describe exactly why Celestia stands out to me and why I enjoy her character more than anypony else's.
Here we go.
One of the princess's most outstanding qualities is her unnatural level of calmness, which I admit can be somewhat off-putting. One might even argue that she displays little emotion at all, and indeed many fans have. However, I think such an argument is fundamentally inappropriate because serenity, at least in Celestia's case, does not mean inexpressiveness.
Lesson Zero does a particularly good job of demonstrating this aspect of the princess. She raises her voice when she first addresses Twilight Sparkle and even adopts a withering scowl. Nevertheless, she maintains a willingness to listen and hear the guilty party's side of the story. She remains in control of her emotions. Instead of showing anger, she expresses disappointment. Even when she is flustered, such as when Twilight's shenanigans require that she make a trip to Ponyville right before bedtime, there is a sense of coolness in her demeanor that does not often break.
Celestia reminds me, to some extent, of Luke Skywalker after he has matured into a Jedi Knight. She is gentle but not passive, and she seldom strikes the first blow (if any), even though her enemies often match or exceed her strength. Indeed, she is fully capable of tapping into a powerful "dark side," but she has such a firm grasp on her anger that—even after five seasons, three films, and dozens of comics—she has only ever resorted to doing evil in the trading card game.
That said, for better or worse, it is a treat when something really gets her worked up, like when the villainy of her Reflectionverse counterpart drives her to unleash what I would call one beast of a Flare Blitz.
Living in the present
This is—in my opinion—one of the most important yet one of the most overlooked aspects of Princess Celestia's personality: she does not let loss or the prospect thereof chain her down. Countless fans have written about how the princesses are cursed with immortality and doomed to outlive the ones they love, but in reality Celestia does not treat her status as a curse at all. At least not actively.
It is easy to miss this detail because much of the evidence comes from stories told from her sister's perspective, namely Micro-Series Issue 10 and Friends Forever Issue 7. In the former story, Luna goes through a full day of Celestia's job and learns from her scheduling advisor that she is incredibly patient and even enthusiastic about helping her subjects with matters that sound trivial to the night-shift princess. In the latter story, Luna relates to Pinkie Pie that, after the sisters fought over the throne, Celestia established a banquet at which she "cuts loose" and performs stand-up comedy for her subjects. Thus, we are given the picture of a princess who loves nothing more than being part of the lives of her short-lived subjects, who rapidly age and pass away under her watch.
This attitude is not exclusive to the comics. In A Bird in the Hoof, Celestia visits the citizens of Ponyville simply for brunch. In Slice of Life, she attends the wedding of two donkeys she does not even seem to know. Taking into consideration these events—not to mention the Best Young Flyer Competition, the Grand Galloping Gala, the Equestria Games, and the Summer Wrap-Up Hoedown and Festival—it is clear that Celestia craves any chance to interact with the ponies under her stewardship and enjoy some time together.
Princess Celestia was deeply saddened by Luna's exile, but she did not withdraw and barricade herself in her room. Celestia held herself together my finding joy in the little things that make up her day-to-day routine. To this day, she delights in the company of Equestria's humble citizens and diverts herself from her own sorrows by helping others with theirs. Even more impressive is the implication that she brings so much energy to the apparently trivial paperwork we see in Micro-Series Issue 10 because she understands its importance to those short-lived citizens.
Pinkie Pie once performed an entire song about achieving inner peace by bringing happiness to other ponies. Although Celestia is not quite as hyperactive as Pinkie, she remains an outgoing mare who goes to great lengths to bring sunshine to ordinary ponies' hearts and, by effect, her own.
For a character with so little time in the spotlight, Princess Celestia has contributed much to the humor in the series. Season 1 in particular used her spectacularly. Let's take a short pause to remember a few of Celestia's greatest moments.
Many of these jokes work so well because she is the highly esteemed ruler of Equestria whose presence typically commands an unparalleled air of severity. The idea that she can nonchalantly plummet out of the sky in accordance with Pinkie's "twitchy tail" or perform any number of other acts unbefitting the title of "Her Majesty" is comedy gold, and no other character in the show has earned enough admiration and fear to make these jokes so successful. The comics have taken Celestia's brand of humor to even greater heights too, employing even a subtle nod to the infamous banana question that we attribute to one fan's interpretation of her character.
Celestia has an important niche in the comedy of My Little Pony, and I daresay it's also one of the strongest.
This reason is a little different from the others. It all starts with the concept that Princess Celestia is a character who does too much good for her own good, and by that I mean she has made some outstandingly evil enemies thanks to her selfless defense Equestria. However, unlike our primary heroes, Celestia makes decisions that affect all of Equestria without ever holding the spotlight. She is a secondary character who tends to get in the way of the main characters' adventures more than she enhances them. For these reasons, she frequently gets punished for all of the good she does. There are numerous characters who personally want to hurt her.
Accordingly, Princess Celestia displays emotions that we rarely ever see in My Little Pony—abject horror when she awakens to discover the changelings have won, for example. Equally important is the reality that Celestia can elicit emotions from other ponies that are just as precious. Other characters can mourn her.
Celestia can be defeated, and indeed she has been defeated on several occasions. This, coupled with the harsh truth that she must manage without the Elements of Harmony which enabled her to triumph in the past, makes her surprisingly entertaining. Some folks have called Celestia and Luna goddesses, but it is hard to deny that Celestia is not the hero she once was. She has moved on to a more educational role; yet so many characters remember her differently that she remains a target for cruelty.
Therefore, I cannot help but cheer when she comes up with a clever plan like transferring all of the Alicorn magic in Equestria to Princess Twilight. Celestia is a character with minimal plot armor, so her consistent bravery in the face of terribly vindictive foes that can do her harm and her ability to assign the right ponies to the right job to save the day make her a character that I can feel invested in, Alicorn powers or no Alicorn powers.
And let's not forget that this pony is responsible for the rising of the sun. Where Princess Celestia appears on the scene, suspense is soon to follow.
These are only my primary reasons for prizing Princess Celestia over all other ponies, griffons, et cetera. There are others besides, and I am sure there are plenty of reasons why a fan might enjoy Celestia that even I have not considered. Her design, her pedagogic outlook, and her older-sisterhood are but a few of these reasons.
If you, dear reader, have anything to add about Princess Celestia's greatness, anything to say against the notion of her greatness, or even a word or two to contribute about why you like your own favorite pony, do not hesitate to speak up. I invite you to post your thoughts in the comments below.
Thank you. (sun)