The Happy Princess : A Fairy Tale with a Twist – By Susie Stead
Once upon a time a long time ago, there lived a king and queen of a great kingdom. They had one daughter. Like any parent, they wanted their child to be happy and to protect her from suffering but unlike most parents this couple had the power and the money to achieve their aim.
Their castle, sitting on the crest of long low hill was huge and beautifully crafted. There were rooms for the winter with great fireplaces and walls hung with gorgeous tapestries. The summer rooms were full of light with delicate curtains fluttering in the breeze. The grounds were vast with a fabulous array of gardens: formal and informal, some with mazes, others rippling with pools and delightful bridges. There were spots of woodland and pleasant copses for picnics. Wildlife was carefully monitored and the princess enjoyed the pleasures of a wide array of pets from rabbits, puppies and ponies to more unusual pets that visiting royalty brought as gifts.
The King and Queen had a huge wall built around these grounds and their daughter grew up within this enclosure, surrounded by beauty. Servants and visitors were carefully screened and required to be happy and positive in her presence at all times. Any sickness or death was hidden from her. The word ‘death’ was hidden from her. When a pet became old or ill, it was put in a pretty carriage driven by a coachman in a silk top hat and two frisky ponies at the front. The princess would feed her pet its favourite treat and wave it off, secure in the knowledge that it was being taken to a very special home where all its friends were waiting for it. Another delightful pet would appear in its place.
The Princess was blissfully happy.
As she grew older, inevitably she grew more curious as to what was beyond the wall. That curiosity grew into a somewhat irritable obsession. This was not acceptable to her parents so with strict instructions, she was taken out into the streets in the coach. The coachman tried to keep her within the area that her parents had required but the princess simply stepped out of the coach and ran off laughing. What she found down the lanes of that town stifled her laugh. Skinny smelly children, women holding babies and begging from shop keepers, people wandering about in a strange assortment of old clothes talking nonsense, others with strange lumps and bumps on their bodies or missing limbs altogether. There were people arguing or walking under heavy loads with bitter tiredness on their faces. When they saw her, they stared and then quickly moved off when they saw the coachman running up towards her. The suffering she saw there overwhelmed her and she let the coachman lead her back to the carriage and back to her home.
Once she had time to recover from the shock, the princess knew what she must do. She told her parents she wanted to make it all better, she wanted all those people to be happy. Her parents tried to tell her that these people were used to their way of life, they were mostly lazy or brutalised and would not appreciate her warm and caring heart. However, to please her they gave her a generous allowance which she spent on the poor. The poor were very grateful.
However, there came a day when an arthritic old man refused her gift of a thick warm coat. She’d never been refused before and became quite agitated. She wanted him to be warm and happy, why was he refusing this? As she argued, he stood watching her in silence. An elderly woman passing by muttered, ‘Don’t, it will do no good’ but the old man made a different choice. He decided to tell her the real problem; her parents. It was they who were the main employers in the area. They paid low wages and charged high taxes. They owned all the properties and when people could not pay the rent, they were made homeless. Perhaps if she could speak to her parents, they might make changes that would make a real difference. The princess felt a welling up of feelings that she didn’t recognise. She was angry and upset, hurt and very, very unhappy. She found the coachman and asked him to drive her home.
Once she had time to recover from the shock, the princess knew what she must do. She told her parents about the old man and his accusation. She told them that she didn’t like these terrible feelings that were in her and she wanted them to go away. Her parents promised her that what the old man had said were dreadful lies. He was a wicked and ungrateful man – after all, she in her kindness had offered him a beautiful, warm thick coat and he’d turned it down. Everyone else was grateful. The princess was not to worry and they would make sure everything ended happily. They had the old man brought before the court, tried and summarily executed for treason.
The Princess never left the castle grounds again. She married, had one daughter and lived happily ever after.