The Queen's Choice
Something different from me over the Jubilee Weekend.... My first ever short story, submitted as part of an annual competition that my writers group (Verulam Writers ) set a couple of months ago. The theme, quite aptly, was "Royalty". And I was (still am TBH) in quite a rage about our current incompetent PM, which I think may be quite obvious in what you're about to read...
“You have all the facts now ma’am. There really is nothing more to tell you. The time has come to make your decision.” The advisor stood in front of the Queen, discreetly nodding as he continued his closing statement.
“You were chosen Your Majesty, for the exact qualities needed for making a stand. Forthrightness; fairness; the way you represented the everyman. You have your own mind and were never afraid to speak it. You yourself claimed that these were the qualities you possess - and that is why the public chose you. Now is the time to respond with force and not let this buffoon beat you into submission. You need to go out there and take that bloated, sweaty pig of a man down. Tie him in knots with his own arguments and rhetoric - show him up for the evil, selfish and self-serving imbecile that he is.
“His mistake was thinking that because you do not come from a traditional royal background, that you would simply roll over and be guided by him and his cronies - don’t let that become true.
“Consult with your Queens Guard. The public are behind you - take the power back again. Otherwise, we are not only going to be the laughingstock of the world, but the sanctions the united world bodies are preparing are going to destroy us and this country, in ways that we can’t even imagine. Think of your people.”
She absentmindedly twisted the diamond studded ring around her finger, looking out through the window, across the city skyline. Smoke billowed from buildings, victims not from the endless public demonstrations but from the heavy-handed response from an out-of-control government. It pained her to know that she was symbolically presiding over such terror and destruction. Yet she was hesitant. Her eyes scanned the objects on her desk; the Mont Blanc pen; the photos of herself surrounded by Kanye West and Beyoncé; the itinerary for her personal trip to her private island in the Maldives and finally to her expensive Hermes handbag. She smoothed out the creases in her Balenciaga trousers and spoke.
“Call him. Now.”
Her two advisors glanced at each other with a faint look of astonishment. Silently, the older of the two reached out and handed her a mobile phone. Putting the call on loudspeaker, the gathered advisors could hear the simpering, fawning tones of the mad man who was currently lording it over the country. But the Queen cut him short.
“Prime Minister, we need to talk about what’s happened in London. Now”.
In that one moment, the air in the room became almost icy and oppressive. The voice on the other end of the phone became a growl - low and threatening. Moving to the window, she naïvely thought she could muffle his words, rather than take him off loudspeaker. But it was no use. His voice reverberated around the spacious room.
“Do not think about doing anything stupid Your Majesty. Remember who you are speaking to. I put you in that role and I can just as quickly have you taken out. And not just you, your whole family. No one will think it strange - you’ll be just like the rest of them. So many royal assassinations, so many royal accidents” he scoffed. “The papers are practically begging for the next royal death.” Taking a moment to let the impact of his words sink in, the Prime Minister continued. “Don’t you dare forget - you weren’t planted here by them, your loyal subjects” he spat out the words with a sneer, “you were planted here by me. And I have plans. Great plans to make this country great again and cleanse our lands of all those who either stand against me or simply don’t possess the right face to fit in,” he almost sniggered. “You will not disrupt me. So, think very carefully about what you’re going to say or do next. Because those riches and extravagances that you are currently luxuriating in, can be gone in the snap of my fingers.” He paused before adding ominously “as can the air that you are breathing.”
She swallowed, muttered a quiet “I understand Prime Minister” and quickly hung up the phone. The advisors’ shoulders slumped as they sighed and slowly shook their heads. They knew what was coming
A voice boomed out from nowhere - but possibly also everywhere. The Queen’s eyes widened as she swivelled her head trying to identify the source of the noise.
“Enacting protocol seventy-four. Take her down. And out.” The disembodied voice instructed.
Two guards advanced into the room, roughly grabbing at the Queen, before deftly taking a syringe and injecting her with an unknown substance.
“What on eart…” her voice trailed off as she slumped into the guards’ arms and they began to unceremoniously drag her towards the doorway. Moments before they exited, a small man in an unkempt shirt and tie walked in, his sleeves rolled up and his shoelaces trailing. With his hair roughly tousled and the bags under his eyes, it looked like he hadn’t slept in days.
“Bring in the next one. Now.” he ordered. Shaking his head, he looked around at the various actors and production staff who had swarmed into the drawing room and had now surrounded him. “Where’s the fucking casting director? This is the 4th one we’ve tried in the role this year and we don’t have any time left. If her sister doesn’t work out, I’ve no fucking idea what to do.” He placed his head in his hands and continued to mumble, to no one in particular. “How we’ve got away with it for this long, I’ve no idea. The Prime Minister is going to figure out we’re not fixing his Royal X-Factor game in his favour for too much longer. And I can’t keep bumping off ineffective kings and queens.”
He signed and shuffled back out the room, one hand running through his hair as he started to think through his next move.
“Where is he? Get the Director in here now.” The former Queen’s sister stomped into the room several hours later, shrugging off the hands of the guards who led her in. She surveyed the room, watching critically as the Director once again slunk through the doorway. She sneered at him. “You should have gone with me from the start. I tried to tell you, but you didn’t listen, did you? I’m not an empty-headed fool like my sister - I’ve been studying this game the whole time and I still remember why we were chosen. But you let my sister literally drink the Kool-Aid and she forgot all about why she was here. Instead, she had her head turned by fame and riches.”
“You didn’t play well with the audience, I mean, the general public” the Director shrugged. “We played what we thought was our strongest hand, banking on your passion and strength to be the thing that kept her focused and on plan. She wasn't meant to be so easily bought.”
“Doesn’t matter now, does it” she spat, “we’re running out of time. What’s the quickest way to get me crowned? To get the message out that I’m assuming the throne. I know what must be done and I don’t care that this job is meant to be symbolic only. I’ve seen too much suffering and death caused by the destructive policies of this despotic Prime Minster. This country needs a warrior to lead the fight back and I’m ready for that role.”
“We’ve put protocols in place for this type of thing.” The Director took off his glasses and gestured to the papers on the desk in front of them. “We’ve lost too many monarchs in recent years to stand on protracted ceremony when it comes to coronations. You need to sign this decree. The archbishop is on his way to perform a scaled down ceremony later - but that’s just for the cameras really. Once you’ve signed, all the power sits with you.”
Grabbing at the proffered document and quickly scanning the few scant paragraphs, she reached for the Mont Blanc on the desk and scrawled her name across the bottom of the page. She smirked. Queen Lina - not the most regal of names, but she didn’t care.
“To business” she asserted, turning and surveying the assembled group. “You” she pointed to the first advisor. “Get the head of the Queen’s guard in here now. I have my first orders. I have a very specific job for them that involves the Prime Minister.”
“And what would that be Your Majesty”, the first advisor asked nervously.
She stared him straight in the eye and delivered three short statements. “Take him down. And the rest of them. Dead or alive.”