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The 12 Princess Story

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The Mystery of the Dancing Princesses

Do you love mysterious stories? Aren’t they exciting? Have you heard of the 12 princess stories? Their father, the king of Belloy, could not solve the mystery of their tattered shoes and set it up as a challenge for others. Do you think anyone will ever be able to resolve the mystery? Read ahead to find out!

The Twelve Dancing Princesses or The Worn-Out Dancing Shoes or The Shoes that were Danced to Pieces is a popular German fairy tale by the Brothers Grimm. They published it in 1812  in Grimm's Fairy Tales. It is considered that the story originated even earlier than the 17th century. There are several variants to the story across Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. 

Once Upon a Time…

In the kingdom of Belloy, a king had 12 beautiful daughters whom he loved dearly. They slept together in a large room. However, a mysterious thing would happen to them every night. The princess wore new shoes to bed every night before they slept but woke up with torn and tattered ones. Although the king locked the room and tried every possible means to uncover the mystery, he was far from any success. 

The king of Belloy was worried about his Daughters

The king of Belloy was worried about his Daughters

Out of desperation, the king announced that anyone who is able to find out the reason behind the worn-out shoes and solve the mystery will marry one of his daughters. He further added that the man could choose the princess he wished to marry and would become the next king. Many princes from different kingdoms came flocking to Belloy in hopes of completing the challenge and marrying a princess. The king declared “Beware noble princes! You have three days' time to find out the reason behind my daughters’ destroyed shoes. If you fail, you’ll turn into a stone.” The princes each took a turn but no one was successful. They all fell asleep every night and on the third day turned into stones. 

A soldier returning from war happened to pass by the kingdom. He stopped by an old woman’s hut for some water. She told the soldier about the king’s challenge. It caught the interest of the soldier and he decided to participate in the challenge. The wise lady handed him a cloak and said, “This is a magical cloak. Wrapping this around will make you invisible. Remember to never drink anything offered by the princesses at night.” With these words from the old woman, the soldier set off for the palace. 

The Old Woman gives the Soldier a Magical Cloak

The Old Woman gives the Soldier a Magical Cloak

When he arrived at the palace, he was welcomed warmly and was well looked after. After dinner, while he was preparing for his night watch, the eldest princess offered him a glass of wine. She told the soldier that it would help him stay awake. However, the soldier recalled the old lady’s words, and though he accepted the drink, he threw it away when the princess turned around. The soldier pretended to fall fast asleep. In the middle of the night, he heard a noise from the room of the princesses. He wrapped the cloak around him and quietly entered the room. He was shocked to see the beds disappearing and a trap door appearing in place of them.

The 12 Princesses Walking into the Magical Place

The 12 Princesses Walking into the Magical Place

The soldier followed the princesses through the trap door into a magical place beside a river. The place was decorated with trees full of beautiful flowers, gems, gold, and diamonds. The princesses were joined by 12 handsome princes and they started dancing together all night long. The soldier snapped a few gems and branches of the trees as proof to furnish before the king the following day. 

The next morning, the soldier appeared before the king in the court and revealed to him the happenings of the previous night. He showed him the things he had brought from the magical place. The king believed him and declared that he had succeeded. The soldier asked to marry the eldest princess and his wish was fulfilled soon. A few years later, the soldier was crowned the new king of Belloy.


This was the 12 princess story about the mysterious dancing princesses of the king of Belloy. The soldier was wise enough to listen to the old woman’s advice, and hence, he succeeded in unravelling the mystery of the worn-out shoes. He was clever enough to bring a few tree branches from the magical place that helped him convince the king. But do you think it was the soldier’s smartness or the old woman’s cloak and advice that helped him win the contest? Discuss with your friends and parents.

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FAQs on The 12 Princess Story

1. What did the king announce to the contesting princes?

When the princes from different lands came to participate in the challenge posed by the king of Belloy, the king announced that they had to unravel the mystery behind the terrible condition of the shoes of the princesses in three days. Failing to do so would result in them becoming stones. He also told them that the successful man would be allowed to choose any one of his daughters for marriage and would become the future king.

2. What did the soldier see when he followed the princesses into the trap door?

When the soldier followed the princesses into the trap door, he arrived at a magical place beside a river. The place was filled with magical trees of colourful flowers, gems, gold, and diamonds. The princesses danced together along with 12 other princes in the magical place all throughout the night.