Prince Hat under the Ground

Prince Hat under the Ground (Swedish: Prins Hatt under jorden) is the Swedish version of an old Scandinavian fairy tale. The Norwegian version is called East of the Sun and West of the Moon (Norwegian: Østenfor sol og vestenfor måne).

It was collected in Småland or Blekinge by Gunnar Olof Hyltén-Cavallius and George Stephens and published in Svenska folksagor och äfventyr (1:1-2, 1844-49). It has been filmed on several occasions and forms the basis of Erik Bergman's opera Det sjungande trädet.[1]

It is of the Aarne-Thompson type 425A, the search for the lost husband. The themes of marriage to the monstrous or mysterious husband, of curiosity inspired by the mother, and even the drops of spilled tallow are very similar to the Hellenistic romance of Cupid and Psyche.


Because of a rash promise, a father has to give his daughter to Prince Hat under the Ground. She spends the days all alone in his subterranean abode, but when night falls, he returns and he is always tender and caring.

The problem is that she has promised him never to see his face. Three years pass and she has three children. She increasingly becomes less lonely and happier. Three years in a row, she visits her father's castle, when he remarries and her two sisters marry. However, the king's new consort makes her believe that she has to see her husband's face, because he might be a troll. At the third visit, her stepmother gives her a wax candle that she is to hold over her sleeping husband to see his face. To her happy surprise, she sees a beautiful young man, but a drop of wax falls onto his chest. He wakes up in horror, but now he is blind and the abode has turned into a hollow of toads and snakes.

The princess follows him on his wanderings, and she has to leave her children one by one. When she a second time fails to keep a promise, he disappears. After long searches, she is helped by three old women until she finally arrives at a castle, where a troll queen is preparing for marriage with Prince Hat.

Through bribes, the princess gets to share the bed with her prince for three nights, but the troll queen has given him a potion so that he does not notice anything during these nights. It is not until the third night that he manages to stay awake and sees that his wife has found him. The spell is broken and they live happily everafter.


  1. Korhonen, Kimmo (1998). "Erik Bergman in Profile" (English translation by Susan Sinisalo). Music Finland. Retrieved 17 February 2015.

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