Monday, 2 November 2015

The true story (from Egypt) behind the Princess and the Pea Fairytale

Many people have heard the story of the Princess and the Pea, but few are aware that its origins are a true story which has been told for hundreds of years by Egyptian nomadic goat farmers. A tale handed down from father to son in the evenings below the stars as they eat their flat breads and spicy bean and goat stew.  The original story is based on a true event but as always us in the west have chopped and changed it so much that the wisdom of that original tale is all but lost. So in order to put this right I feel I should tell that original tale as told to me by one of those old goat farmers (now living in Mid-Wales)

Once Upon a Time there was a young and ambitious nomadic goat farmer who had been given a rather motley collection of goats by his father so that he could go into the world and make his fortune. His father would have given him more, but sadly nomadic goat farmers are poor and have little to give but goats.  The young goat farmer worked hard and bred many goats and they all prospered as they roamed the arid grass lands of the deserts fringes.

Then one day the young goat farmer had the opportunity to buy a posh pedigree goat with soft long hair which he knew would make lovely blankets to sell at market.  He called the goat Princess and although a lovely goat she was rather aloof and looked down upon the other rather dishevelled and scruffy goats.  However every night Princess was restless and tossed and turned and jiggled about trying to sleep, which then disturbed the entire herd.

In the end after several days the young goat farmer decided to search through the straw to find out what was causing his posh new goat to have such a restless night. After several hours he found a dried chickpea under Princess and once it was removed she slept like a log (as the old saying goes). Well this was fine for several days but the other goats were rather keen on chickpeas and ate loads of them, but goats are messy eaters and Princess started to disturb the other goats again. So the young goat farmer thought he would just put more straw down so that Princess would not feel the chickpea under her.  Well over the nights he put more and more and more straw down for Princess to sleep on, but it was to no avail she always knew there was a small dried chickpea under her bedding.

After several weeks he suddenly had a brilliant idea and he put Princess with his camel which was called Prince who did not eat chickpeas much. Anyway as we all know camels don’t leave food lying about ever, not even a single chickpea.  And from then onwards everyone slept in peace and all was well.

Well . . .  all was well for a while, because Prince (the Camel) and Princess (the Goat) became very close and then one very star lit night Prince kissed Princess and instantly she turned into a camel and the pair of them ran off together into the night and were last seen in a train heading out into the desert.  The young Goat farmer never bought another posh goat after that because he thought it was just too much work, and to this day all the goats you see in Egypt are a rather dishevelled and scruffy and all the camels think they are Posh and important.

And that is the true story of the Princess and the Pea . . . . . . sort of           


  1. I am an idiot.
    Right up until she was kissed by Prince, I believed this tale. I am ashamed.

    1. Well in some ways that is good Miss Lily I did hope it would have a sense of reality about it, although a nomadic goat farmer living in Mid Wales was also a bit of a clue.