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  • Writer's pictureGraham Watkins

The Princess of Rhuddlan.

Rhuddlan castle was a fine palace. Inside the castle there were great state rooms where a petty king and his family lived, protected by his men at arms. The king had fought many battles and was tired of war. No mater how many enemies he killed more appeared to challenge him.

“How can I end the fighting and live a peaceful life,” he asked himself.

The question was a vexing one and he could find no simple answer.

One afternoon, a stranger approached the castle gates with a flag of truce and asked to speak with the king.

“Let him enter. We will hear what he wants,” ordered the king.

Rhuddlan Castle

The drawbridge lowered and the stranger was led to the great hall. The stranger had an offer that interested the king.

“I come to offer peace and to sanctify the terms my master offers his hand in marriage to your daughter. A union between our peoples could help end the bitterness,” said the emissary.

The king was delighted to hear the proposal. It was a chance to end the wars, just as he had prayed.

“Bring wine and food for our visitor. We will refresh you before you depart and you can take a letter with my pledge to seal our deal,” said the king.

After the stranger had left, the king sent for his daughter and told her of the plan but the princess did not care to marry any man.

“I will choose who I marry when and if I please,” replied the headstrong girl and stormed out of the great hall. Determined to thwart her father’s wish, the princess packed a bag and crept out of the castle to escape and run away.

She ran along the riverbank, heading towards the sea, unsure where to go. As she went further, her feet began to sink into the mud and slime that the tide had left behind until at last she could not move. The ooze now gripped her legs. The princess began to panic. The tide was coming in and the water level was rising. She heaved with all her strength but it was no use. With each tug of her legs she sank further into the mud. When her legs had vanished into the mud the exhausted princess gave up and began to sob.

Welsh Legends and Myths

A knight was passing and heard her plaintive cries. He took a rope and threw the line towards the stranded girl.

“Take hold and tie it around your middle. I will pull you out,” yelled the knight.

The princess did as she was told. The knight tied the end of the rope to his saddle. The horse pulled, with all its might and soon the girl was free. She looked a bedraggled mess. Her clothes were torn and she was covered in mud from head to foot.

“Thank you, kind sir. You have saved my life. You are my knight in shining armour,” the princess said and grinned.

She kissed the knight to reward him for the deed and, in that moment, fell in love with her rescuer. The princess told the knight of her father’s plan and why she had run away.

“Come with me,” said the knight and sat her on his horse. As they rode away together, the princess laughed with joy. She felt safe and secure with her love to protect and provide for her.

They set up house in a distant place where no one knew the princess. To begin with the princess was happy but her joy did not last long. Her knight in shining armour had a dark and evil side. He was a jealous man and quick to lose his temper. He would shout at the princess and make her cry for the silliest little thing. The princess grew unhappier with each passing day until at last she realised that she had made a terrible mistake.

“I wish that I had listened to my father and done as I was told,” said the princess and vowed to return and beg his forgiveness for being such a fool.

The princess waited until the knight was out and set off to her father’s castle. When the knight came home and found that she was gone, he flew into a terrible rage and swore to drag her back. The princess was nearly at the castle when she heard a galloping horse coming from behind. She looked back and saw the knight. He thrashed his mount and urged it on, intent to overtake her. The princess ran on but stood no chance and was quickly overhauled.

The Princess of Rhuddlan

“Please, let me go,” pleaded the princess as she struggled with the knight.

Then she saw the knight had changed and had become a demon. His eyes were red. His hands were claws and there were horns above his ears. The princess screamed in fear at seeing such a ghoul.

Hearing such a pathetic sound, the demon took the princess and threw her in the river. The tide was ebbing fast. The princess floated out to sea and was never seen again.

Without a daughter to give in marriage, the king was called a cheat; his broken pledge proving he was unworthy of his crown. He lost his head in battle and his kingdom passed away. The castle, once so grand, was left to rot and crumble.

Even today, if you listen when the tide goes out, a plaintiff cry you’ll hear; it’s the princess floating by, to meet her watery grave.

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