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There was once a Prince who wished to marry a Princess; but then she must be a real Princess. He travelled all over the world in hopes of finding such a lady; but there was always something wrong.

Princesses he found in plenty; but whether they were real Princesses it was impossible for him to decide, for now one thing, now another, seemed to him not quite right about the ladies. At last he returned to his palace quite cast down, because he wished so much to have a real Princess for his wife.

One evening a fearful tempest arose, it thundered and lightened, and the rain poured down from the sky in torrents: besides, it was as dark as pitch. All at once there was heard a violent knocking at the door, and the old King, the Prince’s father, went out himself to open it.

It was a Princess who was standing outside the door. What with the rain and the wind, she was in a sad condition; the water trickled down from her hair, and her clothes clung to her body. She said she was a real Princess.

“Ah! we shall soon see that!” thought the old Queen-mother; however, she said not a word of what she was going to do; but went quietly into the bedroom, took all the bed-clothes off the bed, and put three little peas on the bedstead. She then laid twenty mattresses one upon another over the three peas, and put twenty feather beds over the mattresses.

Upon this bed the Princess was to pass the night.

The next morning she was asked how she had slept. “Oh, very badly indeed!” she replied. “I have scarcely closed my eyes the whole night through. I do not know what was in my bed, but I had something hard under me, and am all over black and blue. It has hurt me so much!”

Now it was plain that the lady must be a real Princess, since she had been able to feel the three little peas through the twenty mattresses and twenty feather beds. None but a real Princess could have had such a delicate sense of feeling.

The Prince accordingly made her his wife; being now convinced that he had found a real Princess. The three peas were however put into the cabinet of curiosities, where they are still to be seen, provided they are not lost.

Wasn’t this a lady of real delicacy?

The Princess and the Pea fairy tale meaning

This fairy tale was originally written by Hans Christian Andersen and it has been adapted and re-told over the years since. The story is meant to represent the importance of being aware of certain qualities in people, even when those qualities may not be apparent to the naked eye. It suggests that one should not automatically judge someone on how they look or how they present themselves, but instead look for the underlying qualities that lie beneath. 

The story focuses on a prince who is looking for a bride. He meets a princess who appears simple and unassuming on the outside, but the prince discovers that she is really a princess by placing a pea beneath her mattress. This causes her to have an uncomfortable night due to her royal sensitivity. The prince takes it as a sign that she is, in fact, a real princess, and he decides to marry her.

This story is seen as a classic example of why a person should not judge someone by face value alone, and instead, take the time to look for the underlying qualities that make them who they are.

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