FLASH FICTION – ROYAL PROTOCOL

I find this short story, which I wrote in 2019, always goes down well with audiences when I read it in public. If you enjoy it, please let me know.

ROYAL PROTOCOL

One has had to learn so much in such a short time.

One was thrust into things, so to speak. One had never gone to school, never mixed with other children. One knew nothing about life other than what one had gleaned from the governess and the nanny. Mummy was always far too busy. One had a hard enough time learning how to curtsey to her. And then one had to have elocution lessons – one thought that one already spoke the King’s English but there you are.

“Lilibet”, mummy used to say, “Why can’t you be more like your sister? She is so elegant. Look how she stands and walks. Try to be more like her, poppet.”

And even now, all these years later, Philip will still tease, “Stand up properly cabbage! You are the Queen you know.”

The hardest thing one ever had to learn was how to wave properly. One just couldn’t get the hang of it.

Daddy said, “Don’t worry poppet. It’s not as if you’ll ever be queen.”

But mummy, nanny and everyone in the Royal Household just kept on and on. You do it too vigorously, they all said.

“Gently does it your Royal Highness”, they would say, “or your arm will tire with all that waving.”

One wanted to be out riding or walking the corgis. Instead one had to waste morning after morning learning to wave.

One despised all the protocol. One doesn’t want or need to have one’s hair styled every day. And wearing make-up was an anathema to me. Who needs lippy when mucking out the horses? Philip agreed. He was so understanding. “I love you as you are cabbage”, he used to say – and still does.

In the end one had to have this ghastly manicure because one was going to be seen at some awful function somewhere. The beastly varnish wasn’t bloody drying so I waved my hands about a bit.

My valet jumped in the air excitedly. “By George she’s got it,” he shouted. “Her Royal Highness is waving!”

And after that one never looked back.

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

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