The guest tells her hosts that she endured a sleepless night, kept awake by something hard in the bed that she is certain has bruised her. The prince rejoices. Only a real princess would have the sensitivity to feel a pea through such a quantity of bedding, so the two are married.
For decades I have related to the story of the Princess and the Pea. As a child I was always tossing and turning in bed at night uncomfortable. The bobbles that hold together the mattress can leave me bruised in the morning and I have lost count of the amount of times that I have made my husband get out of bed and smooth down the bed sheet as I can feel every little crease.
Now, I have my own princess who feels every bump in her bed and is finding parallels with this story and her own life. When she had to complete a book review for homework this week on her favourite traditional tale she immediately chose this story.
“Once upon a time a prince lived with his mum the queen in a castle. A princess knocked on the door looking for a place to stay. The queen didn’t believe she was a real princess so she put her to the test.
The queen place a pea under 20 mattresses. In the morning she asked the princess how she had slept. ‘Terrible, uncomfortable and bumpy.’ She said.
Because the princess felt the pea the Queen believed that she was a real princess. So they were married.
This is my favourite story because I can relate to how the princess felt in the morning because I feel like that all the time. The Princess is my favourite character because I can relate to her. The princess is Pretty, awesome and beautiful.” by Rubie aged 7
People with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome often relate to this story. We feel everything. The slightest touch can sometimes hurt. Our bodies can feel like one big bruise. In May for awareness month two of my children presented a school assembly about hEDS and HSD’s and acted out the story of the Princess and the Pea to highlight this to their audience. (The video should start at the beginning of the story, if not you will find it at the 4min 38sec mark but feel free to watch the whole presentation.) I’m sure that many other people with different chronic conditions, like fibromyalgia for example, will ‘get’ this analogy too.