Friday’s Fairy Tales: The Frog King


It’s time for another of Friday’s Fairytales, and this week, I have chosen

“The Frog King”

Origins: “The Frog King” , also known as “The Frog Prince” or even “Iron Henry”, is a tale which is normally featured at the very start of any Brothers Grimm tale collection. Most people will recognise this from Disney’s loose adaptation of the tale: The Princess and the Frog.

On the Aarne Thompson scale, this meets criteria 440: Supernatural or Enchanted Husband

Source: For this, I will be heading to my Bible of Brothers Grimm, aka my Leatherbound Barnes and Nobles edition, as usual.

The Tale:-

  • There was once a King, whose daughters were beautiful, but the most beautiful was the youngest daughter.

  • Near to the castle, there was a large, dark forest and under an old lime-tree, there was a well. When it was a warm day the King’s youngest daughter would go into the forest and sit by the side of the cool fountain. She would often take her favourite toy, a golden ball, to toss and catch to amuse herself while she was there.

  • One day, she was throwing her ball into the air, but instead of catching it, it dropped to the ground and rolled into the water. She could not see the ball through the water, and feeling she had lost it forever, began to cry.

  • A voice called out to her, asking her why she was upset, when she looks around, she sees a frog looking at her from out of the water.

  • She explains that she has lost her golden ball into the water, and the frog offers to get it for her…providing that she does something for him in return.

  • She is so happy at the thought of getting her ball back, she offers him anything. “Whatever thou wilt have, dear frog- my clothes, my pearls and jewels, and even the golden crown which I am wearing.”

  • The frog replies that he does not want any of these material things, but that if she will love him and let him “be thy companion” and share meals with him and let him sleep in her bed, then he would go and get her ball for her.

  • She immediately agrees to all of this, thinking that there is no way it can really happen because he is a frog, after all.

  • The frog retrieves the ball for her, she was so happy, she immediately ran off with the ball, forgetting about the frog, who croaks after her as loud as he can to come back for him because he can’t run after her- he is forced to return to his well again (awh poor froggy).

  • The next day, while eating lunch with her father and the courtiers, they heard something flap up the staircase towards the room and finally bang on the door, pleading to the Princess to be let in.

  • She opened the door to see who it was, saw the frog, and slammed the door in its face, sitting down again with her father, frightened.

  • The King asked why his daughter was suddenly so scared, as if there were a giant banging on the door for her, she corrects him, saying it is not a giant, but a frog.

  • She explains the deal she made with the frog the day before to the King, to which the King tells her she made her bed and now she must lie in it.

  • The princess begrudgingly lets the frog into the room, and lifts him up onto the chair next to hers. He insists she share her plate with him, which she does- hesistantly.

  • After their awkward meal, which the frog enjoyed the the Princess nearly choked on from horror, the frog demands that she takes them both to her bed to sleep.

  • She begins to cry at this because she is afraid to pick up the frog and doesn’t like the thought of him messing up her bed.

  • The King becomes angry and basically tells her to grow up and own up to her promises, because “he who helped thee when thou wert in trouble ought not afterwards to be despised by thee.”

  • The Princess takes hold of the frog by two fingers, and carries him upstairs and puts him into a corner. She goes to bed but finds he climbs up to her bed and threatens to tell her dad if she doesn’t let him sleep in her bed with her.

  • She becomes so angry that she throws him against the wall with all her might, telling him to “be quiet, odious frog.”

  • But when he fell down against the wall, he was no longer a frog. Instead, there was a King’s son with beautiful kind eyes (how she knew he was a King’s son, idk- carry on.)

  • By her father’s will, he was now her companion and husband.

  • He told her of how he had been bewitched by a wicked witch and how no one could have delivered him from the well but herself. He tells her that tomorrow they would go to his Kingdom together.

  • The next day, a carriage with eight white horses along with the King’s faithful servant, Henry appeared to take them to the Prince’s Kingdom.

  • Faithful Henry had been so distraught when the Prince had disappeared, he had three iron bands cast around his heart for fear it should burst from grief (dramatic or what!)

  • The tale ends with the Prince and Princess being driven to the Kingdom, and on the way, each of the three bands around Faithful Henry’s heart breaks, because he is overjoyed his master has returned.

Huh…I was kind of hoping the Prince would turn back from being a frog and basically tell the Princess where to go- especially after being such a cow to him and throwing him at a wall! Surprisingly, no repercussions there!


In one version of the tale, the frog turns into his normal human self only after the golden ball is actually destroyed.

In other versions, the spell is broken when the Princess kisses the Frog.

In one version, it is broken just by the Frog sleeping on her pillow for the night.

Fun Facts:

Every single girl (and boy) has probably heard the phrase

“you have to kiss a few frogs…” once or twice in their life time, well this is

where that phrase came from.


1. Water Song: a Re-telling of the Frog Prince – Suzanne Weyn (Once upon a Time Series)

2.Wildwood Dancing (#1) – Juliet Marillier

Admittedly there aren’t many re-tellings of this tale…




7 thoughts on “Friday’s Fairy Tales: The Frog King

  1. I’ve never heard of that scale before. I remembered the part about the ball, but not that the girl was a princess already. I forgot the deal was to be a companion too. It’s been too long since I’ve read Brother Grimm. I read the version with a kiss, which was better, because it was once she was kind to him that he was revealed to be a prince. There wasn’t anything about the iron heart thing either. I know I’ve said it before, but I like these posts. 🙂

    • thebookheap says:

      Yeah, I discovered that scale has been used for ages as a way for folklore enthusiasts to group the tales together!- handy, eh?!

      I think the original version I read had the ball being shattered in it haha. I think it’s weird that he still wanted to marry her even when she was such a horror to him!

      I’m always glad to hear these posts getting positive reactions :3

    • thebookheap says:

      awh I’m glad- thanks! Always nice to know that people aren’t bored of them. If you ever have any suggestions to improve them, feel free to let me know! I did originally start by doing discussion questions at the end but nobody did them so I stopped that XP

      I know I thought it was strange at first and then I actually found it kind of cute that all he wanted was to “be a companion” and nothing more really, just that he seemed really lonely in his well : ( poor froggy.

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