Ep 1: And so it begins

The Scottish highlands, not long ago

“Bloody hell, Charles,” remarks Camilla, when he tells her he’s tested positive. She takes two discreet steps backward.

“It’s certainly less than ideal,” says Charles. He begins pacing across the tartan carpet, his fingers interlaced in their familiar steeple. “I understand it’s already in the news.”

“I can’t imagine the Scots will take this well,” Camilla says.

“I’m afraid not,” he agrees. “Apparently their Parliament is voting imminently to force us from Balmoral.”

“What risk do we pose to anyone?” scoffs Camilla. “You don’t actually touch anything. Not even your own bottom.”

“You don’t actually touch anything. Not even your own bottom.”

CAMILLA, TO CHARLES

“Still,” says Charles, “It’s frightfully bad form if the British Royal Family starts clogging up their health system. They’re a restless lot, already.”

Camilla glares out of a mullioned window. “It wouldn’t be a bad thing, getting out of here. It’s just heather and midges for miles, and I’m heartily sick of the sporran you keep wearing to dinner.”

“Number 10 has spoken to Mummy about an alternative refuge,” Charles says, riffling among his papers. He picks up a note. “It’s New Zealand.” Camilla stares at him, blankly. “The one that invented pavlova.”

“The dessert with two ingredients?” she says. “Egg whites, and existential despair?”

“It will be something of a sacrifice,” Charles admits, fiddling with his cufflinks. “It’s terribly far away from all my patronages. What will the Red Squirrel Survival Trust do without me?”

“Why New Zealand, for pity’s sake?”

“The Foreign Office says it’s the one place in the Commonwealth so impervious to world events, so naturally enclosed by its own topography and with such unreliable broadband, that we could live there undetected for the entire lockdown.”

“Heavens,” Camilla says. “Less eventful than here?”

“Yes,” says Charles. “There’s no appetite in this place for republicanism, apparently. Its people are polite, easily impressed and pathetically grateful to anyone foreign who goes there on holiday.

“Very little offends the populace. Thousands of them forgave Elton John for walking off in the middle of a recent concert. Imagine paying $120 a pop for Candle in the Wind, and he doesn’t even make it to the chorus! He still got a standing ovation.”

“Extraordinary,” remarks Camilla. “If he’d tried that in Glasgow, they would’ve glassed him.”

“Yes,” agrees Charles. “And the people are endlessly patient, Downing Street says. They’ve been waiting 20 years for IKEA.”

“The people are endlessly patient. They’ve been waiting 20 years for IKEA.”

PRINCE CHARLES, ON NEW ZEALANDERS

“Where the hell will we live?”

“The British High Commissioner’s residence,” says Charles, examining the note. “in a place called Karori. Its single claim to fame is the writer Katherine Mansfield, who lived there for five minutes in the late 19th century. Apparently, she spent the next 30 years slagging it off and quite by accident, revolutionised the short story.”

“Never heard of her, so I imagine she isn’t a patch on Jilly Cooper,” says Camilla, pouring herself a generous G&T. “Who’ll be the neighbours?”

 “Karori Cemetery is quite nearby.”

“Well,” says Camilla, gazing at a Windsor family portrait over the fireplace. “I can tolerate a bit of deathly silence. I’ve spent the last 15 years dining with Princess Michael of Kent.”

“I’ll telephone Mummy, then,” says Charles. “You’d better get your coat.”

In the next gripping instalment (probably): Charles phones an iconic Karori shop and the Queen makes a televised address

The Windsors are coming

Do you know what I was recently paid to do, once a fortnight? I wrote celebrity parodies for Your Weekend and Stuff. I know, right? Pretending to be Celine Dion, Nigella Lawson and Camilla Parker Bowles was probably the jolliest job I’ve ever had and trust me, I’ve been around the block a few times.

But then COVID-19 slamdunked the media business. Newspapers cut their columnists loose, and I spent a couple of days drifting around the house in those free paper slippers you get from hotels.

Still, why stop writing? I don’t know if anyone needs a Royal parody series during a global pandemic but it turns out, it does me the world of good to write one, between cold moments of existential gloom. I know this because the highlight of my first week in lockdown was trying a new head on the vacuum cleaner.

“The highlight of my first week in lockdown was trying a new head on the vacuum cleaner.”

True Story

So here it is, what nobody asked for: A Right Royal Karori Lockdown. It imagines what might happen if the Windsors were quarantined to my neighbourhood – a distant, famously benign New Zealand suburb, with more poodle mixes and Suzuki Swifts than the Queen’s had state banquets.

I really hope it triggers a giggle or two for you during this weirdest month of our lives. I’ll update it as often as possible, even though locked-down life is weirdly busy (only yesterday I spent ten minutes soaping my root vegetables).

You’re welcome to comment on posts, Twitter or Facebook. If you’re an ardent Royalist, I can only apologise. Console yourself knowing it’s all very made up; especially the quotes. Also, let’s be honest – this blog is pretty niche and the Queen will never read it, though let’s not underestimate Harry and Meghan.

If you’re a local, you might recognise versions of places and people you know. The truly savvy will recognise the distinctive penwomanship of star illustrator Sarah Laing – a true Karorian and dazzling talent. She’ll be doing me an immense service by contributing drawings, especially as she’s busy keeping a graphic COVID-19 diary. There are many quietly talented people around here so if I can, I’ll link to them.

If you’ve never visited Wellington’s largest suburb, and sampled its delights: welcome to Karori, perhaps the least remarkable postcode on Earth. Until now.