They all came. Reluctantly, of course. Family members (estranged or otherwise), “loyal” subjects and even a few resentful ghosts. It was, in the end, still “the thing to do.” That was the whole name of the “tradition” game. It locked you into participating in the same tired, irrelevant forms of pageantry ad infinitum. Or at least until the Earth is toppled by one of its many frailties (chief among them humans being at the top of the food chain). Unfortunately, that toppling did not arrive in time to prevent the coronation from going forward. Riddled with so many bad omens from the start. From a lack of viable pop star talent being interested in participating to the sudden shortage of church bell ringers available to soundtrack the alleged “reveling” nature of the event. But not least of the bad omens was the increasing appearance of a certain former queen’s ghost. The one who had never seen her son as fit to wear the crown. Hence, her determined decision to live for as long as she could. But even the richest of the rich can’t live forever.
They could, apparently, seem to bribe God or whoever into letting them come back to “subtly” mock and harass. He even allowed that concession for someone as “lowly” as a former princess who tragically fell prey to a car accident spurred by an under the influence driver and an absurd paparazzi chase. The ex-princess was more demure about her hauntings, preferring to stick to playing silly games with a certain “C” involved in the coronation. That stood for “cunt,” of course, to the former princess. Such games included cutting the seams of her dress, running her nails through every pair of stockings so that they all had rips in them and filling C’s shampoo bottle with blue dye. So it was that just an hour before the ceremony was to take place, she looked like a truly abominable impersonation of Marge Simpson.
As for the soon-to-be coronated king, well, things just wouldn’t “go right” for him either. Because, as if being born into royalty wasn’t enough luck, he expected so much more. Including “respect” from his “subjects.” But how could anyone of sound mind and body possibly pledge loyalty to someone so hoity-toity, inbred and generally daft? Despite posing as some kind of erudite, “higher” being. Nonetheless, he was surprised by all the protest signs echoing sentiments akin to the ones Americans had when they said “Not My President” of a particular orange creature. For the new monarch, that phrase went, obviously: “Not My King.” “But I am!” the king shouted in protest, to no one specific. Except that he knew who he was shouting it to: his mother. The ex-queen whose presence he could feel all around him—drenching him in her disapproval. Which was lending a further sense of doubt to his already fledgling self-confidence.
Sure, he had a healthy ego, as is to be expected of anyone spoon-fed a diet of obsequiousness their entire life. But that didn’t mean his insecurities weren’t rampant when it came to filling Mother’s shoes. Or, more accurately, Mother’s crown. And it was a massive one. Indeed, as it was placed upon his head during a “trial run” (that he performed multiple times in secret), he wondered how the old bag’s head could withstand something so heavy. And then he remembered how muscular and sturdy her neck was (probably a result of being a Taurus). Just another thing she possessed that he didn’t. His neck was far daintier, his head far slenderer and pointier. These characteristics, in fact, were lobbed against him as insults as he looked out at the crowd.
Even far above the plebes, he could still hear and feel so much venom. None of the warm sentiments or welcomings that his mother received seventy years ago. And despite being a woman, to boot. Reflecting on his mother’s gender, the new king couldn’t help but ask himself why it meant nothing to be a man anymore. Why that in and of itself wasn’t “virtue” enough to prove his qualifications as a leader. Feeble or not. And yes, people couldn’t seem to stop pointing out that he was the oldest monarch ever to hold the scepter. This compared to his vital, vibrant mother taking the throne at twenty-five. Back when Britain could still call itself something like a “hopeful” country. Maybe even a modern one, in spite of the continued presence of a monarchy. Because at least people could look at their queen and see someone that might be youthful enough to bear something like “foresight” for and a finger on the pulse of her country.
Where the new king was concerned, looking at him through the eyes of the people was a perpetual reminder of how Britain was breathing its last gasps for pertinence on the international stage. But, more and more, all that any outsider (and insider, for that matter) could see was a stodgy, oppressive environment fortifying itself as a police state. In short, Britain had become tantamount to the type of milieu the new king had grown up in as a prince (a.k.a. king in training). Regardless of understanding this on some level, he wasn’t about to refuse his destiny on a matter of “principle.” The privileged, after all, did not keep their privilege by letting “principles” ever get the better of them. The new king was no exception. “Buddhist” tendencies or not (and any such “tendencies” were probably embraced because Buddha was a prince, too).
What he didn’t account for was how much clout his mother still had in the afterlife. To the new king, it appeared as though dying had somehow actually managed to lend her more power than ever. Not just spectral, otherworldly power, but the power to become godlike in the minds of her subjects. Every previous grievance forgiven, every slight suddenly forgotten by the people who had once found it so easy to blame her (except, of course, for the Irish, who would never forget a single goddamn thing). With her “expiration,” however, all of that contempt was transferred to the new king. More like the new shitbag into which the plebes could funnel their resentments into vis-à-vis not having been born into a better station in life. His mother, he felt, did not truly prepare him for this role at all. In this way, and so many others, she had fucked him over. She didn’t even need to haunt him and place more self-doubt in his head as a result.
He kept thinking about how she did this on purpose. For she could have done a much better job of describing how truly atrocious the commoners were. At least when he was being mocked before, as a prince, it was mostly by a merciless British press. Presently, the people appeared to be far more against him than the media (more easily bought when one was finally a monarch). But then, that’s what the Treason Felony Act of 1848 was for. It could always be wielded in a pinch whenever the monarchy felt certain members of the public were getting too, shall we say, “uppity” about royalty still dipping its overly clean, manicured fingers into the coffers of the hoi polloi.
As he stared into the faceless crowd forming one mass of what amounted to, from his perspective, easily crushable ants, a downpour arrived. Not just any garden-variety London “drizzle,” but a deluge of biblical proportions. One that proceeded to wash away the already rather paltry herd of “celebrants.” The coronation was a categorical shitshow, from start to finish. This was his mother’s doing, and the “king” knew it. She wanted him to know it. That he was still an inferior loser no matter what his new title.
Meanwhile, the ex-princess snatched her earrings off her son’s wife’s lobes. She did not feel “honored” by the “gesture,” so much as utterly insulted. “These fucking twats,” the ex-princess said to the ex-queen as they hovered above their pathetic legacies. And the queen nodded her assent. It was likely the only thing they had ever genuinely agreed on in their lives. Maybe they found something to agree on, in truth, because they were no longer living. Neither was the monarchy, save for “ceremonially.”