Ep 8. All together now

It’s Her Majesty’s birthday but instead of letting off cannons, honouring knights or playing gin rummy with Madge, her Lady in Waiting, the Queen is on Zoom. The video call is split three ways, linking Windsor, Norfolk and Karori.

“I like the medieval backdrop she’s chosen,” Meghan whispers to Harry, seated together in view of the screen. “The toiling peasants in the field outside, the silverware heaped around the room, the burning bunches of sage leaves to ward off disease.”

“It’s not a backdrop, it’s just Windsor Castle,” says Harry.

“Kate and I are here, Granny,” William says, from the Georgian splendour of his country residence, Anmer Hall. Kate offers a dazzling smile.

“Great, it’s Suck-Up and Slaphead,” hisses Harry.

“Mute your microphone, Harry,” remarks the Queen.

Great, it’s Suck-Up and Slaphead.

Harry, on Wills and Kate

“Let’s get this jolly thing done,” says Prince Philip, irritably. “Where the hell is Charles?”

“He’s on his way over from Karori Park,” Camilla says, settling herself into an armchair with an Aperol Spritz. “He’s doing awfully well with his canine obedience demonstrations, you know. They absolutely throng with onlookers.”

“What sorts of commands is he teaching?” asks the Queen.

“Sit, obviously,” says Camilla. “Stay.”

“Shame you didn’t learn that one, Harry,” remarks William. His brother turns red with annoyance.

“Walkies,” continues Camilla.

“Meghan’s got that one nailed,” adds Wills. Meghan goes pink.

“Not Die for the Queen, I hope,” says Her Majesty, mildly.

“Heavens no,” says Camilla. “He’s changed that to Roll Over For Mummy.”

“He’s been doing that for 70 years,” says Philip. Camilla goes purple.

“Let’s just get orn with it,” Philip continues. “First of all, a cheer for Her Majesty on her 94th birthday. Happy Birthday, Old Boot.”

“I’ll never understand this family,” mutters Meghan.

“Hip hip, hooray!” everyone else says.

“Next on the agenda, this bloody book that’s coming out about the Sussexes.” There’s an icy silence. Harry and Meghan exchange a glance. “Promising an intimate portrait of two rebels, liberated from royal bonds to earn an honest living,” continues Philip, reading from his notes. He looks up. “It’s called Finding Freebies.”

Finding Freedom,” corrects Harry. “I can assure you, Grandpa, it will be in the best possible taste, like everything we do.”

“Such as handing out sex toys in suburban New Zealand?” says Wills, archly.

“Yoni eggs support the pelvic floor muscle,” snaps Meghan “Now, thanks to us, Karori moms fear nothing when they sneeze.”

Thanks to us, Karori moms fear nothing when they sneeze.

Meghan Markle

“This book sounds terrible,” says Philip, getting cross.

“It’s no worse than the memoir Pippa Middleton published,” retorts Harry. “Does My Bum Look Famous in This?”

“Or Camilla’s coffee table book about her spaniels,” adds Meghan. “Toothless Betty & Incontinent Pip: a love story against all odds.”

“Or anything by Sarah, Duchess of York,” says Harry. “Budgie the Helicopter Sells Access to Andrew.”

“I want it pulped,” insists Philip. “Next on the agenda: the Cambridges.”

“We’ve been frightfully busy,” says Kate, silkily. “Clapping for nurses.”

“How are the children?” asks the Queen.

“Louis is fingerpainting,” says Kate. “Charlotte is learning her shapes. George is with his tutor at the moment, studying the constitutional history of the United Kingdom and the right of primogeniture.”

“Jolly good,” says Philip. “But there’s a problem, I’m afraid.”

“The people of Norfolk are restless,” says the Queen. “They’re a bit cross that a family of rich Londoners have escaped to the country, potentially spreading contagion in a region with little specialist care.”

“Restless?” repeats William.

“Haven’t you seen the burning crucifix on your front lawn?” barks Philip. “The locals want you gone.” He slaps his knee, furiously. “I blame the Beckhams, and that sodding Gordon Ramsay.”

“I agree entirely,” adds Camilla. “Lounging around their country homes on Instagram, in flat caps and Burberry jackets. Posh Spice has never gutted a rabbit in her life, or jugged a hare.”

“So we’re sending you to Karori,” says Philip.

“WHAT?” say Wills, Kate, Harry and Meghan.

“United front, and all that,” says the Queen, with a tight smile. “It would be the most perfect birthday gift I can imagine, seeing my grandsons burying the hatchet.” There’s an uncomfortable pause. “That’s settled, then.”

“Good gracious,” Camilla thinks aloud. “Two Dukes, three Duchesses and a King in Waiting, right here in Karori?”

“What on earth will we do all day?” asks Kate, aghast.

“What do you do all day now?” wonders Meghan.

“Where do I start?” says Camilla. “They’re desperate for volunteers at Karori Normal School’s Kiss & Drop. Someone needs to trim the hanging baskets at Marsden Village; the lobelia has run amok. Bill needs a butcher’s boy to deliver schnitzels to old people. And it says here,” she holds up the community paper, “that Marsden Books is for sale.”

“How promising,” says the Queen. “It does sound as if the neighbourhood is in desperate need of royal support. My only question to William and Harry is: will Karori be big enough for both of you?”

In the next compelling instalment, Wills & Kate arrive and Sir Bill English very probably makes a cameo

Ep 3. The Queen’s speech

Homewood, drawing room

Camilla’s on hold, listening to muzak. It’s Slice of Heaven, because when you’re on hold in New Zealand, it’s always Slice of Heaven.

A smooth prerecorded voice interrupts Dave Dobbyn. “Kia ora, and welcome to Air New Zealand.”

“About chuffing time,” mutters Camilla.

“Your call is important to us, but we’re experiencing a significant volume at present. Your approximate wait time is 19 and a quarter hours.”

“Good Lord,” Camilla says.

“To complain about the presence of children in Koru Lounges, or to criticise our inflight safety videos, press one. Otherwise, please hold.”

“To complain about children in Koru Lounges, or to criticise our inflight safety videos, press one.”

Air NZ Customer Service

Camilla hangs up, grimacing at Charles. “Well, we’re stuck with all those sex aids, I’m afraid.” Charles nervously touches his tie. “I suppose you should put a teddy-bear up somewhere, for passers-by. Do as the locals do.” She picks up a stuffed bear, and waggles it at him.

Charles snatches the bear and clasps it to his chest. “Where did you find my Clarence?” he exclaims.

“Under your pillow, as always,” replies Camilla. “Tie him to the gates, perhaps with a pair of my old tights. Now, it’s time for my breakfast Bloody Mary.”

Charles sighs and carries the bear out of the room. Camilla’s phone rings and, irritated, she picks it up. “Duchess of Cornwall.”

“Turn on the damned television!” shouts Prince Philip. “The Queen is addressing the Commonwealth!”

Camilla scrambles to find a remote control. There’s a selection on a Union Jack tray, so she picks up the largest and jabs it uncertainly at the TV. Her mother in law materialises, stiffly upright in a green dress and gleaming brooch.

“Dearly beloved,” Her Majesty is saying. “I speak to you from self-isolation at Windsor Castle, at a time of enormous upheaval, widespread hardship and a rush on three-ply toilet tissue.

“You know, all this reminds me of London during the Blitz. The Luftwaffe bombed the orangery at Buckingham Palace, and the late Queen Mother picked her way over the wreckage and threw scattered fruits at the underside of the enemy warplanes, incandescent with British rage.

“Londoners never forgot this act of personal lunacy and she basked in the most wonderful approval for the rest of her life, even though she was as boiled as an owl on good brandy most of the time.”

The Queen indicates some papers on her antique desk. “Popularity rankings are very important during a global health emergency. I remain among the top three most popular people in the Commonwealth, along with Ashley Bloomfield, and Jenny from Invercargill.

“I remain among the three most popular people in the Commonwealth, along with Ashley Bloomfield and Jenny from Invercargill.”

The Queen

“The three least popular include the New Zealand Minister of Health David Clark, and the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.” Camilla isn’t sure, but she thinks she can hear distant booing in the background, beyond the castle walls.

“That is why, for the good of morale, my family has decided that only its most beloved members should remain in Royal Palaces whilst this lockdown continues. The public will not tolerate anything less. To this end, I’ve sent Princess Anne to the Ritz, Prince Edward to the Savoy and Prince Andrew to a Travelodge in Blackpool.

“The Prince of Wales and his second wife,” the Queen’s lips twitch with disapproval and Camilla rolls her eyes, “have already decamped to a distant former colony.

“In the words of Vera Lynn, we’ll meet them again, but it’s a long way to Tipperary. And longer still to New Zealand.” The Queen allows herself a little chuckle. “No need to thank me.

“The Cambridges can stay, for the moment,” continues the Sovereign, “but as for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, it transpires that California isn’t far away enough for the British public.

“And so, after close consultation with the White House and the Disney Corporation, alternative accommodations for the couple are being made. An announcement will follow in due course.” The Queen vanishes, and THE END appears across the screen.

“Why, the old boot!” tuts Camilla. Her phone buzzes again: it’s a text from Meghan Markle, saved in Camilla’s contacts as THAT AMERICAN WOMAN.

SOOOOO honored to be joining you guys!!!!! We don’t have to pay tax over there, or rent, hashtag blessed!!!! Intend to hit ground running, even in six-inch Manolos, haha! Can you get me some bananas and a Vivid?

In the next gripping instalment, Harry & Megs touch down, and Karori locals demand answers