The Frog Prince
A princess making a promise to a frog? Quite dangerous! Unless the frog turns out to be a frog prince!
The Frog Prince is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale about a princess and a frog. After he rescues her golden ball the princess promises the frog that he can live with her. When he lives with her she gets angry and throws him against the wall. He turns into an handsome prince and they live happily every after.
Complete text The Frog Prince
The princess loses her golden ball
In old times when wishing still helped one, there lived a king whose daughters were all very beautiful. The youngest one was so beautiful that the sun itself, which has seen so much, was astonished whenever it shone in her face.
Close by the King’s castle lay a great dark forest. Under an old lime-tree in the forest was a well, and when the day was very warm, the King’s child went out into the forest and sat down by the side of the cool fountain. Whenever she was dull she took a golden ball, threw it up on high and caught it. This ball was her favorite plaything.
Now it so happened that on one occasion the princess’s golden ball did not fall into the little hand which she was holding up for it. It fell on the ground beyond, and rolled straight into the water. The King’s daughter followed it with her eyes, but it vanished. The well was deep, so deep that the bottom could not be seen. She began to cry, and cried louder and louder, and could not be comforted.
The princess makes a promise to the frog
Someone said to her, “What is the problem, King’s daughter? You cry so that even a stone would show pity.”
She looked round to the side from where the voice came, and saw a frog stretching forth its thick, ugly head from the water.
“Ah! old watersplasher, is that you? I am weeping for my golden ball, which has fallen into the well.”
“Be quiet, do not weep,” answered the frog, “I can help you, but what will you give me if I bring your plaything up again?”
“Whatever you want, dear frog. My clothes, my pearls, my jewels, even the golden crown I am wearing.”
The frog answered, “I do not care for your clothes, your pearls and your jewels, or for your golden crown, but if you will love me and let me be your companion and play-fellow, and sit by you at your little table, and eat off your little golden plate, and drink out of your little cup, and sleep in your little bed — if you wilt promise me this I will go down below, and bring your golden ball up again.”
“Oh yes,” she said, “I promise you all you want, if you will bring me my ball back again.”
However she thought, “What a silly frog! He lives in the water with the other frogs, and croaks, and can be no companion to any human being!”
But the frog, after receiving this promise, put his head into the water and sank down. In a short while he came swimming up again with the ball in his mouth, and threw it on the grass.
The King’s daughter was delighted to see her pretty plaything once more, and picked it up, and ran away with it.
“Wait, wait,” said the frog. “Take me with you. I can’t run as you can.”
But what did it avail him to scream his croak, croak, after her, as loudly as he could? She did not listen to it, but ran home and soon forgot the poor frog, who was forced to go back into his well again.
The frog comes to the palace
The next day when she had seated herself at the table with the King and all the courtiers, when she was eating from her little golden plate, something came creeping splish splash, splish splash, up the marble staircase. When it had got to the top, it knocked at the door and cried, “Princess, youngest princess, open the door for me.”
She ran to see who was outside, but when she opened the door, there sat the frog in front of it. She slammed the door to, in great haste, sat down to dinner again, and was quite frightened.
The King saw easily that her heart was beating violently, and said, “My child, what are you so afraid of? Is there a giant outside who wants to carry you away?”
“Ah, no,” she replied. “It is no giant but a disgusting frog.”
“What does this frog want with you?”
“Ah, dear father, yesterday I was in the forest sitting by the well, playing, and my golden ball fell into the water. Because I cried so, the frog brought it out again for me, and because he so insisted, I promised him he should be my companion, but I never thought he would be able to come out of his water! And now he is outside there, and wants to come in to me.”
In the meantime the frog knocked a second time, and cried:
“Princess! youngest princess!
Open the door for me!
Do you not know what you said to me?
Yesterday by the cool waters of the fountain?
Princess, youngest princess!
Open the door for me!”
The frog and the princess live together
The King said, “What you have promised, you need to do. Go and let him in.”
She went and opened the door, and the frog hopped in and followed her, step by step, to her chair. There he sat and cried, “Lift me up next to you.”
She delayed, until at last the King commanded her to do it. When the frog was on the chair he wanted to be on the table, and when he was on the table he said, “Now, push your little golden plate nearer to me so that we may eat together.”
She did this, but it was easy to see that she did not do it willingly. The frog enjoyed what he ate, but almost every mouthful she took choked her. At last he said, “I have eaten and am satisfied; now I am tired, carry me into your little room and make your little silken bed ready, and we will both lie down and go to sleep.”
The King’s daughter began to cry. She was afraid of the cold frog which she did not like to touch, and which was now to sleep in her pretty, clean little bed. But the King grew angry and said, “He helped you when you were in trouble. It is not fair to despise him now.”
So she took hold of the frog with two fingers, carried him upstairs, and put him in a corner. But when she was in bed he crept to her and said, “I am tired, I want to sleep as well as you, lift me up or I will tell your father.”
The frog becomes a prince
She became terribly angry and took him up and threw him with all her might against the wall.
“Now you will be quiet, odious frog,” she said. But when he fell down he was no frog but a King’s son with beautiful kind eyes. He by her father’s will was now her dear companion and husband. Then he told her how he had been bewitched by a wicked witch, and how no one could have delivered him from the well but herself, and that tomorrow they would go together to his kingdom.
Then they went to sleep, and next morning when the sun awoke them, a carriage came driving up with eight white horses. The horses had white ostrich feathers on their heads and were harnessed with golden chains. Behind them stood the young King’s servant Faithful Henry.
The bands around the heart of Faithful Henry
Faithful Henry had been so unhappy when his master was changed into a frog, that he had caused three iron bands to be laid round his heart, to prevent it from bursting of grief and sadness.
The carriage was to bring the young King into his Kingdom. Faithful Henry helped them both in, and placed himself behind again, and was full of joy because of this miracle.
When they had driven a part of the way the King’s son heard a cracking behind him as if something had broken. So he turned round and cried, “Henry, the carriage is breaking.”
“No, master, it is not the carriage. It is a band from my heart, which was put there in my great pain when you were a frog and imprisoned in the well.”
Again and once again while they were on their way something cracked, and each time the King’s son thought the carriage was breaking; but it was only the bands which were springing from the heart of faithful Henry because his master was set free and was happy.
Tips for Telling The Frog Prince
- Take the time to visualize or draw the locations in this fairy tale. See the princess sitting next to the well in the forest playing with her golden ball. And how does the palace look? You don’t need to tell us all the details, but when you know it, it will make a difference.
- The princess, the frog and the king are different characters. The key in telling is to feel what they feel during the story, and let that shine through when you tell about them. You don’t need to croak like a frog when talking as the frog.
- ‘Faithful Henry’ arrives out of nowhere. The story is already finished, and he was not introduced before. It’s ok to leave him out when telling this story.
All Questions Answered
The Frog Prince story was originally written down by the Brothers Grimm. The heard this story in the family Wild. It is the first story in their book ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’ and they called it ‘The Frog King or Iron Henry’. In English this tale is more well known under the name ‘The Frog Prince’.
The Brothers Grimm collected this story and wrote it down in 1812 in their book ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’. However the roots or The Frog Prince are in the oral tradition. This story was told long before it was written down.
In the Brothers Grimm fairy tale, the Princess promised the Frog that he could be her companion. He asked her to promise him: “To love him, to let him be her companion and play-fellow, to sit at her little table, to eat of her little golden plate and drink out of her little golden cup and sleep in her little bed.”
The Princess throws the Frog against the wall and the evil spell is broken. He turns into a handsome Prince and they live happily ever after.
A promise is a promise and you need to keep it. In the end that will bring you happiness.
Yes, in 2009 Disney released a movie called ‘The Princess and the Frog’. However this takes place in modern times and is quite a different tale than the fairy tale. It was loosely based on a more recent book, ‘The Frog Princess’ by E. D. Baker.
The original Princess and the Frog story is the story ‘The Frog King or Iron Henry’. The Brothers Grimm collected this story and included it in 1812 in their ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’.
Most likely nothing will happen to you. Only when the frog is poisonous your skin could get irritated. Or you could die. But it’s not only about you. How do you think it is for a frog to suddenly be kissed by you!
More useful information
- “The Frog Prince” on Wikipedia
- More fairy tales about Frog Kings by D. L. Ashliman
- Sur La Lune annotated version of The Frog Prince
Fairy tales with a frog
Fairy tales with a servant
- Faithful John
- The Elves and the Shoemaker
- The Frog Prince
- The Riddle
- The Three Snake-Leaves
- The White Snake
Photo credits: Robert Zunikoff on Unsplash
The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales on this website are based on the authentic translation of Margaret Hunt. They were edited and reformatted for pleasant reading and telling by Storyteller Rudolf Roos.
See the complete list of The Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales (link to internationalstoryteller.com).