The Empress’ New Pearls, A Fairytale

Strands of Spey Pearls in Washington DC

The short story of a gullible emperor who parades in public wearing nothing more than his altogether has delighted readers ever since it was first published 180 years ago. Hans Christian Andersen was certainly at his satirically wittiest when “The Emperor’s New Clothes” was penned. But few may have heard the corollary tale of his empress and her fabulous Spey pearls.

Allow us to humbly pick up where that most notable of Danes left off.

Many years ago, in a kingdom far, far away, there lived an enchanting empress who was thoroughly disenchanted with her dandy of a husband. All day long he frolicked among the columned corridors of the palace – denuded, dishabille, and leafless. In short: without a stitch to cover his crown jewels.

Now the empress, not one to despoil the good humor of the fop to whom she was married, allowed this to continue for some time. The couturiers who enrobed the emperor in his “new clothes” did, after all, festoon her with many fine gowns that others could actually see. But as of late, weighed down as he was by a few too many pastries, our hero the emperor was not the fit buck that once he had been. The empress was uninspired and bored, and yearned for something more winsome to capture her eye.

The couturiers were summoned to her chamber. “Make me a wardrobe to rival my husband’s,” she said with a mischievous grin. The tailors dabbed the sweat from their brows. “But my lady,” they rejoined. “Perhaps you’d prefer something more demure?” A smile danced at her lips. “On the contrary. I wish to be sensational.”

The couturiers left in a panic, fearful to affront their lady’s honor. Days passed and tankards of ale were emptied to quell their disconsolation. The morning of their presentation to the empress arrived, and not a thread had been bound with another. A most precocious stable boy, who happened to take great delight in these haughty needle-pushers’ stress, offered one suggestion to their relief. “Please, sir, won’t you finally call Spey?”

And that they did. The couturiers presented the empress with strands and strands of lustrous Spey pearls, which the fine lady was most delighted to accept. The following day at the annual Palace Ball, with all the noblemen and women gathered about, the emperor and empress made quite an entrance as they swept down the grand stair au naturel: he, in his fine raiment invisible to anyone who is either unfit for his position or “hopelessly stupid,” and she, in nothing but Spey pearls. As you might imagine, they caused quite the sensation. Everyone simply had to know: where did she get those pearls!

The moral of the story? When one wears Spey pearls, one needn’t wear anything else. Why mess with perfection? Live happily ever after with Spey.