Once upon a time there was an emperor who liked new clothes more than anything. He had a coat for every hour. Where in other countries they would say, “The king is in council” or “The king in is battle”, here they said, “The emperor is in his dressing room.”
One day two men came to the palace wanting to see the emperor. They told him that they could make him the finest clothes ever. More than just being beautiful, they would be made out of a special cloth that wise men could see and fools could not.
How wonderful: now the emperor – and everyone else – will be able to tell who was wise and who was a fool.
The emperor hired them and they got to work. He gave them everything they demanded. They were hard at work every day deep into the night.
But it was all a trick. They were not making clothes at all but only acted like they were. All the silk and gold and everything they demanded from the emperor they secretly stuffed into their travelling bags. It was just a way to rob him.
A week later the emperor sent his wisest and most honest minister to see how they were doing. He was sure to be able to see the new clothes.
But when they showed him the clothes they had completed so far he saw nothing! Not wanting to seem like a fool, he remembered their description word for word and repeated it to the emperor.
A week later the emperor sent another one of his wise ministers. Again he saw nothing and again he repeated the description he had heard.
Then the day came when the clothes were all ready and the emperor could show them off to the whole city.
But when he came to put them on he saw nothing! Not wanting to seem like a fool he said nothing but acted like he could see them. So did the two ministers, whom the emperor brought with him.
Then the emperor walked grandly through the city in his new clothes. Everyone came out to see him and stood along the side of the street. They wanted to see who was wise and who was a fool. But when the emperor passed they saw no clothes at all! Yet no one wanted to seem like a fool, so they all acted as if they could see his new clothes and said such wonderful things about them.
But then a small boy, too little to know what was going on, said, “The emperor is naked!” They told him to be quiet but he just said it louder:
“The emperor is naked!”
And then in that moment the truth hit everyone at once: the emperor was naked! It was true! The whole city laughed him to shame. The emperor knew they were right, but he held his head high even more proudly and carried on to the end.