“Why can’t I live in a palace!” yelled the princess as we strolled down St. James’s Park toward Buckingham Palace. “I wish I was a queen!” I launched into my “a cleaner is a better person than a queen” speech, with which the Gentle Reader is already familiar from my musings on Kate Middleton, but it fell on deaf ears. After all, I thought rather bitterly, here we are on our way to see the residence of a queen, albeit a rather dull and lame one. Not a cleaner, however worthy.
The area in front of Buckingham palace is a rather dreadful celebration of empire and colonialism. I spared the princess a speech on the wreck and ruin wrought by the British Empire, which has affected every single one of our lives, every single moment. The air was bright and sunshiny, the breeze was cool, the grass and flowers and statues shone. She will learn, I thought. We went close up to the tall black iron gates, to look at the stupidly immobile guards, like the one in Mr. Bean.
“My arm is stuck!” shrieked the princess. We looked at her dumbly, waving her arm through two black iron bars in the gates across from the courtyard. My mind was befuddled with tourist fatigue, the tube and the sun and the directions and the golden boy, and I thought she was messing around.
“It is stuck!” she continued shrieking, “I can’t get it out!”
A vision flashed before my eyes, of calling a fire engine in front of Buckingham palace, of police and tourists staring at us while the princess’s arm was extracted from the black iron gates. I was paralysed. The princess was crying now, tears spurting from her frightened eyes, and I knew she was seeing the same vision, and her tears were of fear.
A couple of seconds later, we were all walking down Buckingham Gate towards Victoria Station. “I hate the fucking palace!” declared the princess. “And I hate the fucking queen! With her horrible iron bars and stupid guards!” Her arm was red and sore from its brief encounter with the palace gates.
We were smug and satisfied. We jeered at the stupid old queen and her desire to charge us close to $100 to see inside her old, lame, not-even-really-like-a-palace house, when she’s already like the richest woman in England. Better spend the money to go to really cool amusement park with lots of scary rides. We walked away from Buckingham Palace with a household of anti-monarchists and budding leftists.