The following short story (satirical fairytale) was read out on BBC Radio Leeds on April 7th, 2020. You can find a clip of that audio recording here:
Otherwise, the text of the story is below.
LOVE CURSE 2.0
The prince fell asleep on the second day of spring, after returning from his honeymoon. At first, the princess wasn’t concerned. Their trip had been exhausting, and she was tired, too. But after a few days, when the prince still hadn’t woken, she summoned the physicians.
“I think the prince is sick,” she said. “I cannot wake him. Could it be a curse of some kind?”
Both palace physicians bent over the prince to examine him closely with their stethoscopes and thermometers.
“It is certainly a curse,” said the senior physician at length. “A Love Curse, to be precise. Tell me, milady—have you angered any fairies? Specifically, fairy godmothers.”
“Well, I do have a fairy godmother,” said the princess, dubiously. “But we’ve always got along very well. I can’t imagine she would do this.”
“Hrm, rule that out, then.” The junior physician adjusted his glasses. “Regardless, I am afraid there is only one cure: True Love.”
“You mean I just have to kiss him?” the princess said.
The physicians exchanged glances. The senior one said, “Well, these are progressive times. A simple kiss won’t do it anymore. This is a Version 2 Love Curse – you’ll have to demonstrate your love. Not just signal it with a kiss.”
The princess stared at them in bewilderment. “Don’t I do that already?”
“Well. You can always do more, can’t you?” said the junior physician, with a meaningful look.
No one knows how to love like a princess.
This one dedicated herself to the prince’s care by changing his bed, singing him songs, holding his hand, showering him in loving kisses. This went on for months, while her belly grew and grew (because it had been a very fruitful honeymoon, as they say.)
As her due date drew near, the princess’s family came by to visit.
“What is the matter with your husband?” said her mother.
“He’s sleeping,” said the princess. “It’s a curse. But if I love him enough, he’ll wake.”
“Ah!” said her mother. “Your cousin Annabelle had a husband like that. Shall I see if she still has that list of hers, for all the things she did to prove her love?”
“Oh, yes,” said the princess. “That would be very helpful, thank you.”
Cousin Annabelle’s list, as it turns out, was not very helpful. The princess had already tried all of that, and more.
But the princess didn’t have time to be despondent. Her due date had arrived, and with it two twin boys. She devoted herself to their care, though never at the expense of her beloved. Anyone could nurse a child, afterall, whereas not everyone could love a prince.
Years came and went, while the princess poured all her effort into the prince. If only she could love him enough, he would wake. If only she could do enough, he would be cured.
Eventually, desperate and ashamed, the princess contacted her fairy godmother.
“Asleep, is he?” The fairy godmother curled a lip at the prince as she stepped through the castle doors. “Curse still going strong, then?”
“You… know about it?” the princess said, suspiciously.
The fairy godmother settled herself on a cushion. “Oh yes. I’m the one who cursed him.”
“I cursed your husband,” said the fairy godmother, patiently. “Because he was a vain, lazy, and difficult boy. I should know—I attended his christening, read his fortunes, and babysat him every alternate Saturday until he was sixteen. You deserved so much better than this marriage, dearheart.”
The princess stared at her, speechless.
“My darling girl,” said the fairy godmother, “it was never meant to be spiteful. I was simply trying to help. Think of it this way: if your husband was that much work to love while asleep, how much work would he have been while awake?”