There was once a prince who wished for a princess for his bride, but she had to be a real princess. He traveled the lands far and wide in hope of finding a real princess to steal his heart. There were many princesses across the world, but whether or not they were real princesses he was not sure. Something about them always seemed to be just a little weird, something not quite right, they were not real princesses. The prince returned home to his castle after his long search. He was very sad that he had not found a real princess.
One night it was storming and all of the villagers were in their homes because the storm was so fearsome. There was a knock on the village gates, and outside there was a girl who had been caught in the storm. She was in a terrible state, soaked head to toe from the rain, her dress torn at the edges, and her shoes worn with holes in them. The old King opened the gate himself to let her in.
“Thank you, your Majesty very much!” She said with the sweetest and most polite voice. She curtsied to the King in the pouring rain. She told the old King that she was a real princess who had gotten lost in the storm, and asked him if he would allow her shelter for the night until she could return to her home. The old Queen was doubtful of the girl’s claims that she was a real princess and had a plan to see if the girl was telling the truth.
The girl was as polite as could be to everyone she spoke with, a flood of “please” and “thank you” poured from her lips. The servants of the castle lead her to a warm bath, and she smiled graciously to each of them for their help and kindness to her. While she was occupied, the old Queen decided to place a pea under the covers of the bed that the princess would be sleeping in. The old Queen then placed twenty more mattresses on top of the pea and then twenty more feather beds on top of that! If she was truly a princess, the old Queen thought, then she will not be able to sleep a wink because of that one little pea.
During dinner the old King and Queen, and their son the prince, spoke with the princess asking her many things. Where she came from, how she got lost. As always she responded with the sweetest of manners and a lovely smile on her face. The prince was charmed by the princess and her delightfulness. The old Queen was displeased at the sight of her son admiring the girl who said she was a real princess.
When the princess went to bed, she was so exhausted from the storm that she slept all through the night until the sun came through her window. She descended the stairs from her room and joined the old King and Queen, and their son the prince, for breakfast.
“How did you sleep last night?” The old Queen asked the princess. The princess beamed a smile at the Queen’s concern for her.
“I slept very well, thank you! The bed was the most comfortable I have ever slept in. Your hospitality is beyond extraordinary!” The princess said brightly. The look on the Queen’s face became smug as she now believed that this girl was not a real princess, otherwise she would have felt the pea under the mattresses and would not have slept a wink. The prince saw the look on his mother’s face and knew in that moment what she had done. He stood up quickly from his seat and pointed a finger at his mother.
“How dare you?” he asked the Queen. “This girl has been the most polite, well mannered, and gracious lady I have ever met. She has gone through a terrifying night of getting lost in a storm, and still she is pleasant and patient.” The Queen looked aghast that her son would speak against her so. The princess had dropped her fork on the floor in shock as to what was happening.
“I have met many princesses, mother, but not a single one of them were as kind and gentle as that young lady sitting there.” The prince continued, stepping closer to stand by the startled princess. “Delicate skin does not a princess make. To me, she is a Real princess because of the way she acts and treats others. That is what makes her special, mother, and I love her.”
The prince swept the princess up in his arms and they rode off to a new land where they were married, became King and Queen, and lived happily until the end of their days. Who knows if she really was a real princess or not, what matters is that she was a real princess to her prince.