Milton Spofford III’s colleagues in the press were bitterly jealous. Fresh out of journalism school, “Spiffy” was as nervous as he could ever imagine being. He’d won the lottery to conduct an exclusive interview with the Queen at a time when Her Highness and family were experiencing a resurgence of interest in Great Britain and around the world. Cameras were in place and flattering lighting was aligned to best effect in the library of the royal residence. Spiffy opened the conversation with…
SPIFFY: How are you today, Your Majesty?
QUEEN: We’re very well, thank you. Pleased to be here.
SPIFFY: Wow! You’re using the “royal we.” I’m so used to hearing athletes refer to themselves as “we”. But you really are “we”. The one and only “we”.
QUEEN: I like to think so. Yes, I am we. We are we. When we want to be.
(It takes a moment for Spiffy to regain his composure. He can hardly believe he’s having this conversation. Eventually, he proceeds…)
SPIFFY: The whole world recently witnessed the marriage of your grandson William to Catherine Middleton. It was a glorious event. How do you prepare for such an occasion? Such an intense public moment in the spotlight?
QUEEN: We don’t do anything special. We’re like everyone else, you know. We get excited and look forward to the event. We worry about what to wear. And we make sure the palace has been cleaned and tidied up for guests. We also hold an inspection of the butlers, footmen, chambermaids and ladies-in-waiting, but beyond that, nothing out of the ordinary.
SPIFFY: That’s hard to believe, since there is so much media focus on you.
QUEEN: (seeming distracted): Would you like a bran bar?
SPIFFY: Huh? No. Thanks just the same. So nothing else extraordinary?
QUEEN: There might be something, now that we think about it. We start taking Imodium about a week before the event.
SPIFFY: Ooh. That doesn’t sound so pleasant.
QUEEN: No. By the time the wedding took place, we were really bunged up.
QUEEN: Think of the alternative. What are we going to do if the boat starts to rock, if you know what we mean? Run out to a Johnny-on-the-spot? That happened in Nairobi once. The whole commode was surrounded by SAS commandos and MI6 agents.
SPIFFY: Sounds embarrassing.
QUEEN: It was. We had to shout through the door, “May we have some privacy, please.”
SPIFFY: And did they back off.
QUEEN: That’s where the “we” got us into trouble. They wanted to know who was in there with us. But it was all finally sorted out.
SPIFFY: So you have to take precautions. Do you get sick as a result?
QUEEN: Our body’s used to it. But it means we’re drinking a high fiber supplement for a long time afterwards. Sure you wouldn’t like a bran bar?
SPIFFY: Thanks, but no. (Then caught by surprise.) Why are you holding up a bottle of Metamucil?
QUEEN(trying to look innocent): No special reason.
SPIFFY (continuing uncertainly): You appeared lovely in your canary yellow dress on the day of the wedding. What are you thinking when the eyes of the world are on you – some two billion people by some estimates – and everyone starts singing “God Save the Queen.”
QUEEN: As you can imagine, that’s a special moment for us.
SPIFFY: Can you let us know what goes through your mind?
QUEEN: Usually when the singing starts, the first thought that occurs to us is, “Damn straight.”
QUEEN: Then we usually move on to “second verse, same as the first.” But quite often, to be honest, at our age, the mind wanders.
SPIFFY: Leading to thoughts of…?
QUEEN: What in the world are those relatives of ours wearing? We’re the only one who’s allowed to wear a crazy hat. There’s a sure way to stop them from copying us. Chop off their heads.
SPIFFY: But Your Majesty, you do know there have been some constitutional changes that won’t allow you to dispatch heads anymore. The Magna Carta and British Rule of Law, for starters.
QUEEN: Yes, we suppose. More’s the pity. But it would be interesting to put the notion to the test, don’t you think?
SPIFFY (running his right index finger between shirt collar and neck): No, I don’t really feel that way.
QUEEN: We should have been left with something to chop off.
SPIFFY: Yes, I suppose so. How about ears?
QUEEN: Excuse me. What did you say? We won’t tolerate such disrespect towards our son. We thought we’d put an end to that sort of thing when Charles was in boarding school.
SPIFFY: I’m sorry, Your Majesty, I think there’s been a misunderstanding. I was suggesting you be allowed to chop off peoples’ ears.
QUEEN: Excellent idea. Hear, hear we say.
SPIFFY: Maybe that’s not the best phrasing to sell the idea.
QUEEN: No, we suppose not. Say, you’re a cheeky one, aren’t you?
SPIFFY: The subject of Prince Charles does lead in an interesting direction. Your relationship with your son’s wives has often seemed stormy. Care to comment?
QUEEN: Talk about misunderstandings. We’ve always had a normal daughter-in-law, mother-in-law connection with Charles’ significant others.
QUEEN: Yes. We have to deal with exactly the same kinds of issues as every other mother-in-law. There’s only one major problem. They keep wanting us to make them a Princess or Duchess of one thing or another. Then we have to be firm and say, “No, not this week dear.”
SPIFFY (cognizant he was broaching a delicate topic): Everybody knows you had a rocky relationship with Diana.
QUEEN (a little huffy): We certainly got along with Diana very well, contrary to all popular opinion.
SPIFFY: Again, really?
QUEEN: Yes. She was a delightful girl. She always called us on our birthday and made sure Charles sent a card on Mother’s Day. The rest of the time, her people knew they could get in touch with our people and be treated with the greatest cordiality.
SPIFFY: And how about Camilla?
QUEEN: She’s waiting for us in the next room. Why don’t we call her in for a moment.
(Camilla is summoned and approaches the Queen with a big smile. The two of them do a “knuckle bump” followed by the “octopus”.)
QUEEN: We’re like sorority sisters. Camilla’s my BFF. We’re hooking up after this interview to vet some product placements that a number of salesmen are proposing.
SPIFFY (stunned): I don’t know what to say. I’m shocked.
QUEEN: Well, the common people want us to support ourselves financially. So we’re always looking into advertising opportunities. Camilla has saved us on a number of occasions from making the wrong decision.
SPIFFY: Can you give us an example?
QUEEN: There was an appliance company that wanted us to say endorsed by HRH, Her Royal Highness. Refrigerators, stoves, washing machines, clothes dryers. Front and top loaders. We think we dodged a bullet on that one. Camilla warned us it might not be dignified.
(Camilla leaves the room with smiles and curtsies all around.)
QUEEN: She’s such a lovely child.
SPIFFY: Is that why you held up the bottle of Metamucil?
QUEEN: Guilty as charged. You caught us red handed. How did it work? Did it fit naturally into our conversation?
SPIFFY (skirting the question): What about your daughter, Princess Anne? Does she join you and Camilla to make up the Three Musketeers?
QUEEN: Good heavens, no. We don’t know what she’s up to. She’s around here somewhere, but we seem to have misplaced her.
SPIFFY (changing tack): What does your husband, Prince Philip, think of the product placement idea?
QUEEN: He’s all for it. What day is this?
SPIFFY: It’s Thursday, Your Majesty.
QUEEN: This is the day he takes the royal carriage to the do-it-yourself Quickie car wash.
SPIFFY: Doesn’t that attract a lot of attention?
QUEEN: Of course it does. But that’s the point. Philip is making a commercial for the whole Quickie chain. It’s a franchise operation with outlets all over the greater metro area.
SPIFFY: So he has no reservations?
QUEEN: We wouldn’t say that. He thinks if we’re going to do this, it should be mostly outside the country.
SPIFFY: Your subjects would find that less intrusive, for sure.
QUEEN: Philip’s been approached by Burger King in the U.S. and is mulling it over. We’re debating an offer from Motel 6. But we want to make sure their mattresses provide good back support.
SPIFFY: Any other countries?
QUEEN: Of course we’d like to break into the Japanese market. But they have someone called an Emperor who provides stiff competition.
(A smile comes over the Queen’s face.)
SPIFFY: Why are you chuckling?
QUEEN: Philip says nobody does stiff like we do stiff. You know – upper lip and all that sort of thing. At least, that’s what we think he means.
SPIFFY: What’s been the hardest part of your job?
QUEEN: That’s easy to answer. Having to spend time with those insufferable U.S. Presidents.
SPIFFY: That’s not the answer I was expecting. Why?
QUEEN: Because we want our country back.
SPIFFY: Didn’t they win it by force of arms? In the American Revolution?
QUEEN: That was all for show. Washington asked our great-great-great – well you get the idea – grandfather if he could borrow a couple of states for a while. Something about needing collateral for a real estate deal.
SPIFFY: A property transaction?
QUEEN: Yes. He wanted to buy California from the Spaniards and thought he could leverage up. He knew very well he was supposed to give the colonies back eventually. George III was not amused.
SPIFFY: What about India? Did that nation win its freedom fair and square?
QUEEN: Not on your life. Our father, George VI, lost India to Ghandi in a game of strip poker.
SPIFFY: How did that happen?
QUEEN: He was sucker punched by a ringer. Think about it. When Ghandi proposed they play cards, Dad assumed he could beat him handily. Ghandi was wearing a single sheet, for goodness sakes. On official occasions, Dad always wore about 40 layers of medals and articles of clothing as part of his uniform.
SPIFFY: I can see how your father would assume the odds were stacked in his favor.
QUEEN: That’s what he thought. But dad never won a hand. He ended up starkers and was so mad, he threw India into the final pot in a bid to get even. At least he had the good sense to hold back Canada and Australia.
SPIFFY: Then Ghandi went on to win all kinds of accolades for passive resistance.
QUEEN: Yes, well that was one passive man, all right. But passive aggressive, we’d say. That’s when our dad’s stuttering took a really bad turn. He was mad about what Ghandi did ‘til the day he died.
SPIFFY: I don’t know, I think you may be revealing more about yourself and your family than the public has ever heard before. Are you worried about that?
QUEEN: No, cause once we’re finished, we’re going to send you to the Tower never to be heard from again.
SPIFFY: I’m sorry, Your Majesty, but again that’s something you no longer have the power to do.
QUEEN: Such a bother. Well in that case, this is a wrap. We’re outta here. Have a pleasant day young man. And be sure to say hi to your parents for us.
Spiffy was highly pleased about the sensational information he’d captured on video. But he was concerned about the tone of the piece. He was afraid the affectionate regard in which he still held the “grand old lady” and her checkered brood might not come through. Nevertheless, for reasons having to do with his own personal safety, if nothing else, he knew he must be diligent in sharing the session with as many people as possible and quick as a wink.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Representatives of certain companies – you know who you are – might have observed how specific brand names were inserted organically into the narrative. This writer would like it known that other such opportunities for “mutual co-operation” between body of text and corporate elite may exist in the future, for a fee of course.