Prince Bertie has been on a secret mission to save the royal family and the honour of the lovely Princess Beatrice. In this special Bertie story, our hero is turned back into a prince - but don't worry - this is not the final Prince Bertie Story. You will have to listen to the end to see what happens. Read by Natasha. Duration 24 minutes.
Proofread by Claire Deakin.
It all started a few weeks ago. It was a really, really hot day. All the pond life were sitting out by the water enjoying the sunshine. Well, all except Colin the Carp who was moaning that the water was starting to feel more like a hot bath than a pond.
Then all of a sudden, there was a strong gust of wind, and a newspaper that had been carried on the air landed on the lawn. “Oh, my,” sighed Sadie the Swan. "There’s a picture of the lovely Princess Beatrice on the front page. Isn't she just wonderful? What does the newspaper say about her, Bertie?"
Now, as you probably know, Bertie used to be a Prince and he was engaged to be married to Princess Beatrice, who he thought was the most beautiful, sweetest princess in the world. But her wicked stepmother didn't like Bertie much, so she turned him into a frog, and now he sits in the pond telling stories. He still loves Princess Beatrice though, and won’t hear a word said against her. As it happens, he is the only creature on the pond who knows how to read, and so he spelled out the headline for Sadie and the others. It read: “Princess Greedy Guts!”
Prince Bertie held up the picture and he was so angry his face went bright red… well, a sort of greenish-red actually, because he is a frog.
The picture showed the lovely princess Beatrice wearing a yellow bikini and licking a double ice cream with a chocolate flake, while holding a hot dog in her other hand.
Underneath the picture the newspaper read: "Since the strange disappearance of her husband to be, the less than intellectual Prince Bertie, the “lovely” Princess Beatrice has taken to stuffing her face with nosh all day long. Turn to pages 3,4,5,6, and 7 for our exclusive pictures of Princess Fattie on the Beach. See our close-ups of her horrible acne.
“I…I…” Spluttered Bertie. He had never been so angry in his entire life. “How dare they make up these filthy fibs? Beatrice is the most lovely, charming, sweetest creature who ever lived.”
“She’s a fatty,” snarled Colin. “Just like you.”
With that, Colin dived straight down to the bottom of the pond so that Bertie couldn't thump him, which is what he usually did when Colin said something horrible.
Bertie turned to the newspaper’s opinion page. There he read that the royal family was lounging around in the sun enjoying itself while the rest of the kingdom was going to the dogs. “Why do we need the Royal Layabouts?” It asked. “Isn't it time for a Republic?”
Sadie hissed her disapproval. All the pond life know that she is an ardent royalist. She was so indignant, that some of her beautiful black feathers turned quite white.
“What’s a Republic?” Asked Tim.
“It’s a very silly kind of country,” snooted Bertie. “Without any kings or queens or… or…"
“Princes…” ventured Tim, slightly timidly, because he could see Bertie was quite upset.
“It’s clear what must be done,” declared Bertie. “I am a royal prince, and Beatrice is my princess. I shall go and defend her.”
But first he needed a plan.
You see, Beatrice and the royal family had all gone on holiday on the royal yacht, which was moored in the south of France. And Bertie was only a frog, so he didn't have any way of getting there, until Tim the Tadpole came up with a rather clever idea. “Bertie, why don’t you post yourself to France?” He said.
“He’s too fat,” gurgled Colin the Carp, still hiding in some mud, so that Bertie couldn't thump him.
Now using the post seemed like a very good idea - surprising really, when you think that Tim, who is a very silly tadpole, thought it up. Sadie the Swan noticed a Federal Express box near the palace doors, which was being used to courier the king’s favourite food across to France - Marmite, since everyone knows you can’t get Marmite in France.
So that night, Sadie and Bertie crept across to the palace. They opened the box, and Bertie hopped inside, squeezing in between two jars of Marmite, and a Creme Egg that had been packed for Beatrice’s stepmother. Then Sadie bit an air hole into the box so that Bertie could breathe, and wrapped it up again.
“Oh dear Bertie,” said Sadie. “You are so brave and noble… just the kind of Prince a girl wants, apart from the fact that you’re a frog. But never mind that, you’re wonderful just the same, even though you’re green and got big bulging eyes… I mean, I’m sure you’ll do the royal family proud.”
In the morning, the courier company arrived and picked up the box. Bertie could feel himself going bump, bump, bump in the van. Then he felt himself going whoosh, whoosh, whoosh as the box was whisked around the airport. Then all of a sudden, there was a huge roaring sound, and Bertie realised the plane must have taken off. His box was being thrown from side to side, and the Creme Egg bashed him in the tummy.
Bertie felt rather frightened, and was starting to wonder of it really mattered if the papers were a bit horrid about Princess Beatrice. After all, it was only words.
After a while, the plane stabilised, and Bertie began to feel a bit peckish. He opened a jar of Marmite and started to lick the lid. But he had only tasted Marmite on toast before, and he didn’t realise quite how horrid it tasted when you ate it on its own. His mouth felt so yucky, he decided to nibble a bit of the Creme Egg to take the taste away. It tasted yummy, so he had a bit more. Before he knew it, he’d eaten the whole Creme Egg, and was feeling very sleepy, and, although he would never admit it to Colin the Carp, a bit fat as well.
Bertie was halfway through a dream about winning an Olympic Gold Medal for skateboarding, when suddenly he awoke with a start. He could see Princess Beatrice’s wicked stepmother peering into the box. “Somebody’s eaten my Creme Egg!” She hissed.
Bertie realised that he must have dozed off, and by now he must be on the royal yacht. He leaped out of the box and hopped across to the far corner of the room. Just then the lovely Princess Beatrice came into the room, looking, to tell you the truth, just a little bit more plump than he remembered, but lovely just the same. Bertie tried to call out to her, but instead of the words, “Beatrice my love,” all that came out his mouth was one big, "CROAK!"
“Arrgh!” Screamed Beatrice. “Its a horrid, horrid green reptile. Yucky!” And she ran out of the room.
The wicked stepmother started to walk towards Bertie, with a huge fly swatter in her hand, and Bertie’s legs started to wobble with fright. There was a nasty, mean, cruel, look in her eye - just like when she first turned him into a frog. If anything, she looked even nastier, meaner and more murderous this time than before. “Croak, croak,” he spluttered, quite certain that he had just croaked his last.
The wicked stepmother paused. “Bertie,” she said, looking him straight in his bulging eye. “Is that you?”
Bertie remained silent.
“One croak for yes, two for no,” screamed the wicked stepmother with a swoosh of her fly swat.
Bertie croaked once.
“Hmmm,” she said slowly. She looked very angry, but then her face twisted into a sort of smile, although not a very nice one. “Prince Bertie might come in very useful right now. I have a proposition for you young man… Er, I mean frog. If I turn you back into a prince, will you deal with all the photographers and journalists who are being beastly to the royal family?”
“Very well,” said the wicked stepmother. “But if you so much as glance at Princess Beatrice I’ll turn you straight back into a frog! And you can hop and croak for the rest of your days!”
She wagged her finger at Bertie, in a menacing sort of a way. “Is that agreed? Do you, Prince Bertie the Frog swear not to gawp at my stepdaughter? Cross your heart and hope to die?”
“Croak,” said Bertie.
And then, suddenly, with a snap of her wicked fingers, the spell was unbroken. Bertie was a prince again.
He felt a bit strange at first. He legs were a bit bendy, and he could hardly hop at all. But he could walk, and talk again, just like he used to.
“It’s just marvellous!” He said in a croaky voice.
“Enough!” Shrieked the wicked stepmother, crossly. “The top photographers of all the world’s most famous newspapers are gathered out there. Now go and deal with the filthy, garbage-eating swine like a true prince!”
Bertie stepped up to the deck of the yacht. It was moored in a big marina, with lots of big boats in it. Across on the shore there were dozens of photographers, with huge cameras, and they were all pointing straight at the royal yacht.
Bertie was wearing the same clothes he had been wearing just before he was turning into a frog - shorts, a t-shirt and baseball cap, so that he didn't look like a prince at all. In fact he looked like a skateboarder, which for Bertie was just great, because that was his favourite thing. He strode up onto the deck of the yacht, then walked across the jetty until he was on the pier. He looked across at the all the photographers, stopping along the way to buy an ice lolly.
“I say chaps,” he said, standing right in front of one of the cameramen. “I hear your all being jolly beastly to the royal family. Well I think that’s… er… er… er….rotten! So just jolly well stop it!”
Bertie expected the cameramen to fold away their equipment and start going home. But instead, they just turned and looked at him. At first they were slightly surprised, and then they started laughing.
The one of them took his ice lolly, and started eating it. “Naff off you big wally,” he said. “Ain't you never heard of the freedom of the press? We're just doing our democratic duty on behalf of the people.”
“It’ll be a republic soon,” said another. “Then there won’t be any royals for us to bother.”
Up on deck, Bertie caught a guilty glance at Princess Beatrice. He swiftly turned his head away, in case the stepmother saw him looking at her. All the photographers rushed forwards, and started snapping away. Some of them were laughing, and Bertie could hear one of them saying, “Great stuff. The editor wanted another Princess Fatty spread for the morning, and now we've got everything we need.”
Bertie was so angry he took a swipe at one of the men. But he ducked, and Bertie fell flat on the ground. The next thing he knew he was lying on the dock, feeling dizzy. As he looked up, a camera lens was staring straight at him. “Give us a grin, mate,” said the photographer. “We’ll use your ugly mug for our next health special — how sitting in the sun too much can turn you into a wally.”
The photographers headed for the nearest bar. Bertie got up feeling quite sorry for himself. If he was going to stop them, he realised, he would have to come up with a cunning plan. But what?
He walked up and down the seafront, eating three ice lollies, and thinking and thinking and thinking…
Then suddenly he had a brainwave. The only thing that would make the photographers go away was an even better story.
So Bertie hatched a clever ruse. He went back to the royal yacht and found his old cabin. Sure enough, his royal uniform was still hanging in the cupboard, with white starched cuffs and collars and perfect creases in the trousers. He put it on and admired himself in the mirror. He looked like an admiral, with a peaked cap and gold braid on his shoulders and wrists. But something was missing. He couldn’t think what, and then he remembered - his gold sword and scabbard for extra special occasions. He found it leaning in the corner and attached it to his side. Now he looked the perfect picture of a true prince, because when princes are on holiday, they always go around dressed like admirals.
Out on the dock, Bertie resisted the temptation to buy another ice lolly. Instead he started to walk up and down looking as royal as possible.
Some people started to stare, and then a young girl came up to him and said, “Excuse me sir, are you the handsome Prince Bertie”
“Why certainly Miss,” boomed Bertie. “I’m just on a royal walkabout.”
The girl turned around and called to her friends, “Tracy, Sharon, Trish! Look who’s turned up. It’s Prince Bertie!” And Tracy, Sharon and Trish ran over to get a better look. Bertie couldn't stop Sharon from throwing her arms around him and kissing him on the lips. It was all he could do to stop his admiral’s cap falling off. Soon a crowd of French and English holidaymakers gathered around. The wicked stepmother stood on the deck of the yacht and called out, “Hurrah for the royal family! Long live Prince Bertie,” and she used a magic spell so it sounded like lots of people were cheering and shouting. A band started to play on the deck of the yacht, and soon people really were shouting nice things about Bertie and the royals.
The photographers came out of the bar to see what the noise was about. Soon they were snapping away with their cameras.
“Excuse me, sir,” said one, “would you be so kind as to tell the Daily Beast where you have been these past months? Your fans have been sorely missing you since your disappearance.”
“My dear chap,” said Bertie, “You know how I always like to help out the gentlemen of the press. But I’m afraid that on this occasion my lips are sealed. It’s a royal secret, you see.”
The evening editions of the newspapers, not to mention all the news on the internet and the TV, were full of the story of Prince Bertie’s remarkable reappearance after months away on a top secret mission to save civilisation. Some editors even wrote that the kingdom was safe in Bertie’s hands, and begged that he be made joint king right away, and added that the monarchy was just super-duper. A Sunday newspaper prepared an article about the beautiful curvaceous Princess Beatrice. Even the wicked stepmother had her picture on the cover of a fashion magazine, wearing her most fetching long black evening gown with a diamond-studded tiara in her hair, though some people could not help noticing that her eyes had a strange, eerie glow to them.
But before Bertie could see the results of all his cleverness, he slipped away from the crowd and sneaked up the gangplank back into the royal yacht.
The wicked stepmother met him and said, “Well, Bertie, that wasn't a bad go, considering that you've never been the brightest bulb in the box”
“Well, I think it was rather clever of me,” said Bertie proudly.
Just then Princess Beatrice walked along the opposite deck, looking as sweet and lovely as ever -although even Bertie was wondering if she hadn't maybe put on a little bit of weight.
Bertie just couldn't help turning his eyes to catch a glimpse of her royal loveliness.
“That’s torn it!” Shouted the wicked stepmother, and she frantically waved her arms to cast a wicked spell. In the next instant, before Beatrice could catch sight of him, poor old Bertie was a frog once again.
“Croak,” he said, rather sadly.
“You can’t say I didn't warn you!” Snapped back the wicked stepmother.
And with that she chased Bertie back into the box, slammed down the lid, and marked it to be sent back to the palace pond. But she wasn't that cross with Bertie really, so she slipped in a Creme Egg for him to eat, and a copy of the Wizzo Skateboarder magazine to read on the way.