A royal resignation, p.1
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       A Royal Resignation, p.1

           James McLachlan
 
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A Royal Resignation
A Royal Resignation

  James McLachlan

  Copyright 2012 James McLachlan

  Chapter 1

  The room shuffled to silence as Prince William stepped up to the microphone. As the small talk subsided it was replaced by the usual staccato flashes of the ranks of Canons and Nikons that were an everyday accompaniment to the life of a future king.

  “Ladies and gentlemen. I have come here today to support the work of the National Cancer Trust. It is a very worthwhile cause and one which deserves all the most generous support which it is given by so many of us.”

  The prince paused and took a deep breath before resuming.

  “I must apologise to the charity because today I wish to use this public event to make a personal announcement. I have decided to resign from my position as Prince William, and I no longer wish to play any public part in the life of this country.”

  There were gasps of shock from the audience and the camera flashes resumed with a greater intensity. The Prince continued,

  “It is my belief that hereditary privilege should not be enshrined in the political system of Britain in the year 2012. Although I love my country deeply and feel that it is a great privilege to carry out the role of a prince and perhaps one day to be a king, such roles are incompatible with the beliefs that I hold. Thank you.”

  And with that he exited the makeshift stage that had been erected in the conference room of the charity’s headquarters to a clamour of shouted questions from the shocked ranks of royal correspondents.

  “William! Does the queen know about this?”

  “William! Did you talk to your father?”

  “Is this because of Diana?”

  William heard the question about his mother very clearly as he walked down the narrow corridor as quickly as he could with the help of two of his security detail who were clearing a path through the cameramen and rabid journalists.

  He had never felt closer to his mother than he did at this moment. He had prayed to her spirit in the weeks leading up to this day to give him the strength to go through with the course of action which he had decided upon. He now also felt free for the first time since he was a child. He had just got off his chest the greatest burden imaginable – one which he knew would have unbelievable ramifications for an entire country. He knew that his father would be furious, but he didn’t care. He felt so exhilarated because he had rejected the role that an accident of birth had decreed for him. He suddenly thought of future children that he may have and how happy he was that they would be saved from the relentless intrusion that is such a part of a royal’s life. He then thought of his wife Kate. He hadn’t even told her of his plans. He knew that he couldn’t trust anyone, even his wife. He knew that he would have been persuaded out of his decision and he even feared for his life if he had consulted a single living soul.

  Even he, with his unique perspective was unable to see the bigger picture, but he felt sure that were some powerful forces at work whose only interest was maintaining the status quo. He knew that he was essentially just a puppet. A puppet who had just taken the first hugely difficult step necessary to leave the show.

  It took 30 seconds to get out of the building and into the relative safety of a bullet proof Daimler and he was on his way to St. James’s Palace to face the incredulity of his family and the reaction of a nation.

  In those same 30 seconds, modern technology had perhaps its greatest ever test of what it was designed to do. To spread information as quickly as possible to as many people as possible. Smart phones and laptops fizzed into action. A million websites and blogs buzzed. Many of these same websites would crash later in the day under the weight of interest in this story.

  The Prince Quits.

  This was one of the biggest stories of a century. Careers could be made off the back of this single story. Reputations could be won and lost. Unknown reporters could become household names. No media company was actually broadcasting the event live but Sky and the BBC were both filming at the time. The National Cancer Trust’s PR assistant was also filming the event with a camcorder. He was now being besieged with ridiculous cash offers for whatever footage he had shot.

  The BBC and Sky news were now live and were playing footage of the announcement over and over again. It was almost as if the editors themselves couldn’t quite believe that it had actually happened. The BBC had sent a junior reporter to cover what was seen as an event which was unlikely to be in any way newsworthy. Yolanda Ojukwu had only been working for the corporation for 2 months. She was now furiously trying to get a small coffee stain out of her white blouse which she was now wishing she had ironed for a lot longer than the 30 seconds which she always reserved for the task.

  “Yola! 20 seconds and we’re live,” the cameraman urged.

  “Okay. Okay. I’m ready. How do I look?”

  “You look great …. er …… really professional.”

  That’s what Steve the cameraman said. What he felt was a little more effusive. He thought Yolanda was the most beautiful woman that he had ever met. They’d been working together for only 2 weeks but he was smitten on the first morning. For the last 14 days he had spent considerable amounts of time dreaming about kissing the freckles that ran across her nose and cheeks.

  “5 seconds …. 3.”

  Steve signed the last 2 numbers and Yolanda was live.

  “We can now go over to our reporter, Yolanda Ojukwu at the event in Finchley. Yolanda, did the Prince seem nervous before he made his announcement?”

  “No, Peter. He seemed perfectly at ease. He was his normal self. He did a tour of the charity’s offices and met with staff and some key fundraisers. If anything I would say that he appeared more relaxed than usual.”

  “What is the mood among the press around you at this moment?”

  “I would have to say that at first we were all as naturally shocked as anyone would be on hearing the news. That disbelief has now changed into a desire to discover the constitutional implications of Prince William’s decision and the mechanism of his withdrawal from public life. Do we even call him a prince anymore? Is he just William Windsor? Is Prince Harry now the second in line to the throne?”

  “Indeed there are so many questions to be asked. Thank you. That was Yolanda Ojukwu live from Prince William’s resignation announcement in Finchley.”

  At number 10 Downing Street the prime minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was on the bog. He was enjoying his daily dump. Quite a large turd was just about to vacate his prime ministerial anatomy when he could hear his habitually excitable special adviser coming down the corridor in a state of excitement which seemed a lot higher than usual.

  “Prime minister! Prime minister!”

  The prime minister, George Barclay had known his special adviser for more than 20 years. Cecil Peabody was 5 years below the future prime minister at Eton, and they had been political partners since Barclay had entered political life in 2001. Peabody knew the rules. The Daily Dump was not to be interrupted. There were however three agreed circumstances where it may be excusable to interrupt the daily prime ministerial dump:

  1.Impending Nuclear Attack

  2.A call from the President of the U.S.A.

  3.A call from Rupert Murdoch

  “Who is it, Cecil? The Murdoch or the Pres?”

  From the corridor outside the PM’s khazi, Cecil announced that it was neither.

  “Bloody hell, Cecil, nuclear attack? How long have we got?”

  The thought of being vaporized in the next 2 minutes by the deadliest weapon ever created by man certainly speeded up George’s ablutions.

  “Oh. Don’t worry sir. It’s not that.”

  “Well. You know the rules, Cecil.
This had better be good.”

  “Prince William has resigned, sir.”

  George definitely heard the words correctly. There was no doubting the simplicity of the statement. Nothing ambiguous about it.

  PRINCE WILLIAM HAS RESIGNED

  “What!!” George exclaimed while he was scrunching up some camelia scented 3-ply toilet paper.

  “Prince William has resigned, sir.”

  “I heard you the first time, you bloody idiot. What do you mean – resigned?”

  The PM was now in the corridor and face to face with his old chum.

  “He just announced it at a charity event. He was expected to make the usual speech – deserving charity etc etc bla bla bla – but he then just announced that he was quitting. It’s live on the telly at the moment. You can watch it for yourself – they are playing it over and over.”

  The Cabinet Secretary and the Director of Communications were having a discussion about what the appropriate response should be when the PM walked into his private office. Barclay watched the footage of the speech 3 times before he spoke.

  “Well, there’s no ambiguity there is there, Trevor?”

  Sir Trevor Dingle, the Cabinet Secretary replied, “No. Prime minister. It’s not as if he was misheard. And the footage is very clear and has now been broadcast all over the world.”

  Barclay’s face was red now. He looked like a seriously worried man. “Bloody hell. This is serious isn’t it. I’m guessing that the press are already expecting some sort of response from me – what the bloody hell am I going to say? Is there any precedent for this?”

  “We don’t think so sir. Obviously King Edward abdicated, but William has clearly stated that he doesn’t think the royal family is a good idea.”

  “Any news from Clarence House yet?” Barclay asked.

  “No, George. Nothing yet.”

  “What about the Queen?”

  “The Queen is at Balmoral, sir. We don’t yet know if she has been informed.”

  Barclay now asked Billy Herbert, his director of communications how long they could feasibly wait before he made an announcement. Herbert didn’t really have any idea, so he just did what he’d always done in his career – just blag it while looking very sure of yourself. It had got him into one of the top PR jobs in the country, so why change a winning formula.

  “Well, George. The prince made his statement at just after eleven, so ideally we would need something from you by three o’clock.”

  “OK. Let the press know that I will give a statement at three o’clock in Downing Street. I need to speak to Prince Charles and if possible the Queen. Are there any constitutional experts in the civil service, Trevor? We could do with some expert advice.”

  The prime minister was left to his own thoughts. Everything was going so well. The Queen’s jubilee celebrations had gone off well despite some bad weather. The Olympics were a great success. George was looking forward to an easy autumn. Today’s events meant that the autumn was going to be far from easy for George Barclay who was now standing in front of the mirror, practising his “strength and confidence” face. His mother had told him from the start of his political career that that was all he needed to convey to the people.

  “Remember, Georgie! Strength and Confidence!”

  Paul Smith, the editor of The Sun, was in his operations room.

  “So where are we? Story of the millennium people. We need information. Have we got a good photo for the front page? What’s the response from Downing Street? Let’s get some response from some anti royal MPs. I guess we should get something from that Republic pressure group. Headlines – any early ideas?”

  Alec Boothe, a six pints of stout a night, 40 fags a day, Glaswegian in his mid fifties was the Sun’s news headline editor.

  “I’ve got a few at the moment, Paul. But nothing that really grabs yer. Er, there’s

  ‘The Prince Wants To Be A Pauper’

  ‘Wills Doesn’t want the Crown’

  ‘Prince Resignation Shocker”

  Paul Smith’s blank expression told Boothe that he would have to come up with something a bit better than that.

  “OK people, get busy.”

  The assorted editors and journalists scattered out of the room and off to their desks to get the information that would be the ink in the hands of more than 5 million Brits in the morning.

  Paul Smith turned to his assistant editor, Jane Parks. Jane was famous at the newspaper for being able to judge the mood of the nation. She was a working class Essex girl, father was a brickie, but she made her way to Oxford and now had the second top job at the biggest paper in the country. She loved the power that came with the job. She’d seen the all the antics of the privileged toffs at Oxford, and she loved the fact that a few choice words in the Sun editorial could make these same toffs who were now in parliament suffer at her hand.

  “So what do you think, Jane? What are the people gonna think about this?”

  “I think we’re going to have to be very careful about who we back on this, Paul. We don’t want to go too strong saying that the monarchy must survive, if the mood of the nation may well be leaning towards some sort of republic. The Queen is untouchable as everyone knows, but there were 46% in that last poll who wanted the crown to pass straight to William after she’s gone. Now William says he’s had enough and he’s even gone further and said that the monarchy is an anachronism in 2012. I seriously think that we need to wait and see which way the wind is blowing before we come down on one side or the other.”

  “Yeah. I think you’re right. I think we need to appear supportive of William’s feelings at the outset. We’re not going to make any friends by coming down on him right now. One thing’s for sure, Jane – this is gonna be fun! Ha, ha, ha, ha ha.”

 
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