We've been thinking about The Princess and the Pea a
lot lately at The Sleep Room. It's a simple childhood classic by
Hans Christian Andersen but to be honest, it gives us food for
We all know the story - a prince is looking for a bride, but
he's having a dreadful time finding one. The thing is, he can't
find a real princess. Then, one dark, stormy night, a bedraggled
woman who has been caught in the horrors of the weather outside
appears at the door. She is very soggy and somewhat tearful.
She asks if she can stay the night, claiming there's no need to
worry about any funny business as she's a princess. Yeah, nice
line, sweetheart, thinks the Prince's (pushy?) mum. To test her
princessy-ness, said Queen gives the princess a bed with no fewer
than forty mattresses on it. Twenty featherbeds and twenty of
As far as upholstered beds go, that's pretty extreme. Mmmmmm,
cosy, I hear you think. But Queen Suspicious has sneakily
positioned a pea at the bottom. Not one to complain, the princess
sticks it out, but she wakes up the next morning finding herself
somewhat bruised. Bruised! Her hosts spot this and declare that -
hurrah! - she is a princess. The two are wed.
Apparently it comes from a Swedish folk story that Andersen
himself was told as a child. These days there are all sorts of
children's versions available, all of which feature the luxury bed as a centrepiece. Oh it always looks so
cosy - check it out here, and here. But onto our pressing
First of all, why on earth is a princess wandering around in a
storm anyway? Where were her security guards? What was going on?
Had she escaped? Is it like when Lady Di used to sneak to the
cinema on Kensington High Street?
Second of all, what is the actual proof that the bruises were
caused by the bed/pea combo? We are not at all sure that they were.
After all, she was wandering around in a storm before bed. It could
have been hailstones at the very least - if not a fall from her
horse or some other mishap.
But thirdly - and most importantly - why is it that people often
tell other people 'Oooh you're behaving like the princess with the
pea' as if that's a BAD thing? You know what, this princess, who is
so often spoken so ill of, actually sounds kind of cool. She
wanders off to do her own thing, regardless of what her King Daddy
thinks she's meant to be doing, she's smart enough to get let into
the castle and crash for the night and she's polite enough not to
complain about her restless night of hell on forty different
mattresses. (It's only the bruises that give her away). And she
still gets her guy. All in all, we think she sounds like quite a
Princess, you rock.