One week before Christmas, 2015
‘I’m not sure we’re going to get away with this for much longer, you know,’ Hugo said as he strode down the corridor.
‘Stop saying that. It’s fine.’ Sebastian pinched the bridge of his nose. ‘It’s fine,’ he muttered.
‘I’ve been getting all kinds of letters and emails full of people’s concerns. And Queen’s Speech Twenty Fifty is trending like you wouldn’t believe.’
‘Yes, really. I keep telling you, Sebastian-’
He held up his hand. ‘Remember who we’re doing this for.’
‘Yes, yes, the great British Public. Anyway, how’s she looking?
‘Dr. Matthias awoke her this morning and she’s looking good.’
‘Good for someone who’s 125 and has been asleep for the best part of a year or good good?’
‘Ah, the first.’
‘Crikey. I really do hope that Charles pegs it soon. The nation can’t wait for Billy Boy and Kate to take over, but according to my sources Camilla is still reviled by almost everyone.’
‘We don’t need your sources to tell us that, Hugo.’
‘I mean it was bad enough before, but after that incident with Princess Charlotte-’
‘Keep your voice down,’ Sebastian hissed.
It’s not like it’s a state secret that she was the one who dropped her.’
Yes, yes, enough about that already. Charles’s doctor has told me, in the strictest confidence I might add,’ Sebastian leaned into Hugo, ‘that he might not pull through this time.’
‘Yes, but this is between you and me. I’m serious. None of your “leaking” this to the press.’
Hugo crossed his arms in front of his chest. ‘It’s my job to sometimes “leak” things to the press, but I know when to keep my mouth. I keep telling you that that wasn’t me.’
‘Fine. But I am serious. Not. A. Word.’
Hugo mimed zipping up his lips. ‘Promise.’ He nudged Sebastian. ‘Oh God, look who’s coming.’
‘That’s all we need.’ Sebastian pulled his lips into a fake smile. ‘Patricia. Good morning.’
‘Morning. What are the Queen’s engagements for the week?’
Sebastian looked down at the clipboard he was holding. ‘Recording Christmas day speech today, dinner with the U.S. President tonight, opening a hospital tomorrow, a school on Wednesday, another hospital on Thursday, the royal christening on Friday, Saturday she travels to Sandringham to spend Christmas with the family, back to London next Wednesday.’
‘After which she’ll miraculously disappear again for weeks.’
‘Don’t give me that. I don’t know what you and your little posse of advisors are up to Sebastian, but I’m not the only one who’s starting to get a bit sick of being left in the dark.’
‘We’re not up to anything. She just needs a lot of rest. The woman is over a hundred for goodness sake.’
‘She’s well over a hundred. Why isn’t she dead yet?’
‘What can I say? Good genes. C’mon, Hugo, we’re needed in the drawing room by twelve and it’s already ten to.’