In The Prince and the Pauper, when the prince first tells John Canty that he is the Prince of Wales and not Tom, John’s son, John believes that the prince has gone mad. John states this very clearly at the very end of Chapter IV (I have this book on Kindle and cannot give you page numbers.) There, John says that the prince has “gone stark mad as any Tom o’ Bedlam!” He then goes on to tell the prince that he would beat him for not getting any money by begging, “mad or no mad.” Clearly John does not believe that the prince is really the prince. Instead, he thinks that the prince is really his own son Tom, but that Tom has gone crazy.
This is really quite understandable if you think about it. Tom and the prince look so much alike that the people at the palace instantly accept that Tom is the prince. In addition, we human beings are not likely to accept a fantastic story when there is a simple and much more obvious explanation for what we are seeing. Therefore, we should not be surprised that John Canty thinks that the prince is Tom, who has gone mad.