The Happy Prince. The main character in this story. He used to live a happy life as a prince in the royal palace until he dies. A statue of him is then built and placed on a tall column high above the city, where he is able to see all the ugliness and misery of his city. Originally the statue is gilded all over with thin leaves of fine gold. His eyes are two bright sapphires, and he has a large red ruby on his sword hilt. He gets compliments on his appearance and happiness from passersby. He asks a swallow to bring his ruby to a seamstress, his two sapphires to a playwright and a little match girl respectively, and deliver all the gold leaves covering his body to poor people. Then the statue of the happy prince looks little better than a beggar. The town councilors pull it down and melt it in a furnace. Its broken lead heart will not melt in the furnace, so it is thrown away.
The swallow. He is on a journey to Egypt to join his friends for winter. He fails to go together with them because he falls in love with the reed, who then turns out not to be worth his stay. When he passes by the statue of the Happy Prince, he decides to take a break. Seeing the Happy Prince weep for the poor people, he agrees to be his messenger and help him give out his precious ruby, sapphires, and gold leaves to those in need. He also accompanies the Happy Prince and tells him stories for many days. However, after he finishes all those tasks, the weather has become so cold that he has no strength to fly any further. He dies at the feet of the Happy Prince.
Town Councilors. They give compliments on the original appearance of the Happy Prince but call it shabby afterward and eventually destroy the statue.
A seamstress. She is embroidering passionflowers on a satin gown for a royal member, but she has nothing to feed her little boy who is lying ill. The swallow brings her the ruby of the Happy Prince's.
The playwright. He is trying to finish a play for the Director of the Theatre, but he is too cold to write anymore and hunger makes him faint. The swallow brings him one of the Happy Prince's sapphires.
Little match girl. She is crying because she lets her matches fall in the gutter and cannot bring back any money to her father. She fears that her father may beat her. The swallow brings him the second sapphire of the Happy Prince's.
God. He tells an angel to bring him the two most precious things in the city. The angel brings him the leaden heart and the dead bird. God says that the angel has made the right choice.