Dead Queen Ingrid invites Cece and Hester to tea
Time: One week after grandson Nikolaos’s wedding in Greece
Scene: Dead Queen Ingrid pours tea.
Cece, Hester - one lump or two? We are very anglicised, you know. Daisy – I gave her the same nickname as my darling British mother - and Joachim speak perfect English with no Danish accent whatsoever. It did surprise me when your compatriot Mary adopted such a sing-song way with her own language. She seems to be a bit of a unique bard of her own persuasion, I must say. But do draw closer, my dears. We royals love a bit of gossip with our confidantes, provided the subject is not one of us.
Girls, you must have wondered why I have invited you here. I am about to deliver you a homily and near-rant, rather than indulge us in tea-time chit-chat, I am afraid. I must unburden, as I have had to steer my family away from a crisis and a threat to its very future. Believe me, observing my darling grandson’s Greek wedding - where the "real" royals jolly up the pretenders - redoubled my intention to relieve my royal family of its egregious interloper. And I'm sorry not to exchange witticisms and bon mots with you lately, my dears. But there is an important Matter of State at hand, and I am limited in my communication vehicles these days.
You two have at times been mouthpieces for my Daisy - something I have heartily approved. Now I will make royal use of you. You have both been virtual courtesans in my own Kur for some years, and your service has been both noticed and appreciated. I have been watching events unfold over the last ten years and resisted the urge to influence my descendents. It's not the done thing to interfere with matters once you've carked it, dears. One waits until one’s dead. That we all end up sitting in a large parlour in the sky is a myth. It's more like Sartre's "Huis Clos". I have some tedious companions ... it's all awfully egalitarian here. Of course, I wanted to pass time with the working class, they do have a certain nobility in their boring routine. But there's this hideous lower order I have become acquainted with - and I think it is the wellspring of that Mary. If I have a regret, girls, it is nothing of my own making - it's circumstantial.
My dying just as Mary was getting her claws into poor little Fred was inauspicious and of great inconvenience to my dynasty. You know I am all pragmatist - otherwise my darling Daisy would not be on the throne! But that Mary has me non-plussed. What an extraordinary mix of vulgarity and hauteur! Is that what "middle-class" is? My darling Anne-Marie has always been intrigued by such ordinary living, but I never worried too much about it. As my French son-in-law says, "le sang royal ne saurait pas mentir!" She may enjoy an incognito visit to the supermarket every now and again, but her eldest son married a monied and impeccably aspirant arriviste, and her daughter’s marriage has her living on a remote island with a husband who is marked by the exciting risk of involvement in light, local scandals. What could be more royal!
I would not have thought this to be the middle class. I know scientists and money counters and historians and mathematicians up here, and none of them have been anything like that strange girl from Taroona with her ridiculous mannerisms and Tourette's tics, and hairtossing and lip-pursing - alternated with cutesie-poo, shortie-pyjama, showgirl tricks. Mae West and Pamela Harriman have been invaluable consultants. When you two informed me that Mary’s milieu had been the red-light district of Sydney, it all became a little clearer. Too late, of course, for my Frederik's better judgment. Fred is a puzzle to me, now. He started with such strong beginnings: a Scottish nanny, lukewarm porridge breakfasts and a dashing, stern father - and his brother has turned out simply brilliant! He could easily be an administrator, potentially a field marshal if, God forbid, we should ever go to war. Joachim has a poet's soul, a philosopher's tongue, and the mien and carriage of a king. Fred has the comport of a dwarf who lives on starch, lard and aniseed liquor.
So, girls, I wanted to let you know I have been relying on your missives for light relief, as Crown Prince Frederik treads his path to ruin with that hussy! And light relief has been much needed. In the normal course of events, an unfortunate infiltration of bad blood from the likes of this Professor John Donaldson, are absorbed into the guts of the dynasty and chewed like tobacco and spit out as if by a rodeo cowboy, leaving behind a strange ooze on our path to dynastical glory and a nasty bout of indigestion. The inadequate member is put on the outer, and simply incubates a generation. I have been so pleased that Dr. Yehudi Geldstein's astonishing genetic advances have allowed us to divert our brood away from the malicious Donaldson genes. Sadly, I am observing that Frederik's "outlier" gene profile - as Yehudi describes it - simply does not stand up to the behavioural problems that Mary has brought with her. I do blame drugs rather than anything intrinsic - though, as I mentioned, Frederik's unfortunate stature was a surprise.
I have had this problem for some ten years, and even when you have no body to pickle in cortisol, I assure you that the stress symptoms are the same. To cut this long, sad tale short, I decided to become exercised in this little war of attrition, because it has been taking too long. Denmark is celebrating my centenary, and a decade since my death, in order to restore some pre-Mary common sense to Daisy's reign. The Danes' Mary love has been a massive episode of a form of ergot poisoning - like a Middle Ages peasantry developing a folie à milliards together on a dose of Toxic Donaldson. Well, Danes, christen yourselves Rip Van Winkle, or Sleeping Beauty - whatever your era of sleep, it simply must come to a close. Frederik came within a whisker of liberation from Mary, but being shrewd, she had arranged the "Paula Yates" drug and had her insurance policy in her pouch. Henrik was apoplectic at the news.
Cece, Hester, seeing my poor family on the steps at Gråsten in a state of gloom was a sorrowful moment for me. Mary ran from Fred's side and interpolated herself on the Joachim and Marie side of the steps, drunk on her perceived new power. We royals, though, bide our time. Polite in company, with honed blades down our trouser legs. What finished Mary for Frederik was when she had a bitchfight with Henrik on a balcony, in front of the nation that Henrik always feels on tenterhooks with. Embarrassing Henrik - you know from his recent "bullying" comments to Henrik’s biographer that Frederik will always side with his Papa - finished Mary in Henrik and Frederik's eyes. It took Mary's infamous lap-dance and tonsils inspection in front of Princess Maxima and the rest of the world - at a formal, royal gala event! - to finish Mary in Daisy's eyes. She is walking the plank as we speak.
As I said, blades down the trousers, cutlass at the ready - and scrupulously polite words at all times, with our hands, like Crown Prince Haakon's on Spetses, behind our backs. Mary is redolent of a doomed Morgana, an Anne Boleyn type. Fate moves in mysterious ways. Prince Christian is an odd bird, and who knows where his tendencies will take him. Observing him, I have the same reaction as I did with my darling husband’s brother Knud – and I knew then that the throne just had to be taken from him. For me, Ingrid, the choice is clear! I will leave my concerns with the youngest generation to another day (knowing the Schackenborg boys made a wonderful foil to Fred’s kids), and make it my business to ensure that, soon, Crown Prince Frederik - my beloved grandson, despite his shortcomings - resumes the warm influence of Katja Storkholm and makes her his Queen. But, Frederik knows, I am bred tough. If he remains under Mary's spell, I will turn my efforts to ensuring that Prince Joachim and Princess Marie prevail, with the support of my people.
Hester: Thank you so much for your time, Your Majesty. We will do our very best to help you however we can in your noble endeavors.
Cece: You have any more of those delicious cream cakes?