The Queen

Queen Elizabeth II had been the Queen of Great Britain and her Empire since 1952. Unlike some countries the Queen did not "rule by divine right" or have any other absolutist tendencies. Like every British monarch from 1688 onwards she reigned alongside a two-chamber parliament in which there were two parties, the Whigs and the Tories. The Tories tended to say "Yes, ma'am" to whatever the Queen wanted but the Whigs were slightly more inclined to look after the will of the merchant classes.

For that reason the Queen was profoundly disturbed at having to face a Whig government, something virtually unheard of in her family since the start of the reign of her grandfather, King George V. The vulgar new PM, Lord Ashdown, had already told her in private that he intended once again to unban that appalling rabble the Labour Party, a more uncouth idea she could not imagine. At least she had been able to think of no more uncouth idea until one of her camp's spies told her that, despite what the PM had told the Queen in private, he was planning to incorporate into his speech a section about detente with the Americans. She had sighed when she had heard this. It came as no surprise. What better could be expected of a Whig administration? The Queen was an old hand at this game and she knew exactly what would happen, as if she herself were in the room: he would drone on for two, maybe even three hours about anything and nothing and then slip it in when everyone was asleep. That way no-one would raise any objections to it and, as he had not discussed it with Her Majesty, it had not had any chance of being vetoed. And he probably thought himself very clever walking around with that outsized robe with the ridiculously large pockets and hoping nobody heard the clanking sound. It wasn't rocket science: the pockets would be filled with champagne bottles to bribe (and sozzle!) anybody who had paid attention and who didn't like the idea. She hoped his silly gown was literally a pain in the neck for her new PM.

Her son, Charles, liked him of course. It was an old tradition in that family that if the reigning monarch liked something then the Heir Apparent liked something else. She and the Tories would have to work harder at bribing the electors back into her camp before the next election. Because so few men were eligible to vote that should not prove too much of a problem.

What worried her was not just that he would start trying to cosy up to America with their lower-middle-class ideas about everyone voting but that he might cause relations with Britain's old ally, Fascist Italy, to sour. That'd be a pity. She thought of the many holidays she'd had in Rome, in Florence and in glorious Venice, of the many delicious wines that had come over so cheaply from there and of the frightfully good manners that all the Fascisti seemed to have. No "Have a nice day" or back slaps or "Howdy pardner" from them!

There was a knock at the door. Her Majesty went to her desk, got out her knitting and indicated for her butler to open the door and enquire who it was.

"The Prince of Wales," announced the butler.

"Show him in," said the Queen without looking up from her knitting.

In came her son. Inevitably the door flew up immediately thereafter and the Queen's consort, Philip, put his head round the door and said, "Chorles!"

"Charles," said the Queen and her son together as the butler apologetically closed the door on her husband.

"Mummy, I'd like to explain about Ashdown. I'd hate to think you got off on the wrong foot..."

"You're in my light," complained the Queen, pretending that nothing was of more interest to her today than her craftwork.

"Oh, Mummy," said Charles, moving, "this America thing. I know you know. Look it's been draining our economy for years and most of those nuclear bombs are bloody useless anyway..."

"Chorles!" said Prince Philip, forcing the door open again.

"Charles," said Charles and the Queen again before the butler once again shut Prince Philip out.

"I trust the gentleman on the television who complained about one's voters has been sent to the Tower? Or doesn't Prime Minister Paddy believe in such things?"

"Of course he's in the Tower, Mummy. Lord Ashdown was as shocked as you and I."

"And how about this... this... former Labour MP who's marrying Mr. Portillo?"

"Well," said Charles, "we're all entitled to fall in love. I have - many times."

"Chorles," said the usual culprit, with the usual response.

"Mummy, can't we do something about him? People are starting to ask questions. He needs help."

"Your father is as sane as you or I," said the Queen. She looked coldly at her son. "Well, as one of us, anyway. So is one to take it that the Labour Party will once again be legal?"

"Well, yes, but I shouldn't worry about it.. look, Mummy..."

"Your Majesty."

"Look, Your Majesty, the Labour Party are a tiny bunch of crackpots. Making them legal means we can keep an eye on them better. Would you rather they went underground?"

"I should prefer them to disappear," said the Queen, peering over her glasses. "I suppose one will not be required to turn up to the wedding of Mr. Portillo and this... this former MP?"

"No, of course not, Mummy."

"Good. It would send entirely the wrong message. One wonders why they were allowed a woman MP in the first place. Next they'll be having women voters."

There was an awkward pause. Charles was relieved when the sound of the dumb waiter gave him an excuse to change the topic.

"By Jimminy! Who ordered that bloody thing to come up?" asked the Prince of Wales.

To the two royals' mild surprise Prince Philip's head could be seen coming up through the dumb waiter.

"Chorles," he said.

"Look here, sir, my name's Charles and I'm trying to have a bit of a chinwag with Mummy here so would you mind awfully playing around somewhere else?"

"Your father's not playing around," admonished Her Majesty. "Children play around. Your father's investigating."

A yapping sound filled the air and the Queen smiled with delight. With HM's permission the butler opened the door and the palace dog-handler handed over custody of the Corgies to Queen Elizabeth. As soon as she rose, her son rose.

"Right I'm off to walk the dogs now. This audience is at an end."

"Your Majesty," said Charles, bowing slightly.

"Chorles," said Prince Philip.

The End

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