All the Queen’s Horses

Of all the 127 sitting rooms in Buckingham Palace, Queen Elizabeth was sitting in her favourite, the Victoria Room, where many years ago Victoria and her beloved Abdul had once held hands – and probably rather more. As she was sitting there, looking out at 30 acres of London that the royal family had protected from the ravages of the industrial revolution, she heard a polite little knock at the door. ‘Come in,’ she said.

The door opened and there stood a balding middle aged man, bowing and groveling. ‘Come in and close the door quickly,’ she said, ‘there’s an icy draught blowing in from that damn corridor.’
‘Yes Ma’am, thank you Ma’am, hope I’m not disturbing you Ma’am.’

‘Oh it’s you, Cocky Ferguson, all dressed up in a black frock coat. I thought for a nasty moment that the undertaker had come to get me. Come and sit down, let me pour you a cup of tea. What can I do for you this afternoon?’

‘I thought I’d just pop in, Ma’am, to keep you up to date on all the latest in Zombia.’
‘How thoughtful of you, my dear Cocky. All my other high commissioners report back to the Foreign Office, quite forgetting that they’re supposed to be representing the Queen and not that awful Margaret Thatcher.’

‘Teresa May, Ma’am, that’s the latest one.’

‘I find it difficult to keep up, there’s been so many of them. But tell me, Cocky, have you been having a nice time in Zombia? Visiting all the game parks and so on. It’s very important that we look after all the wild animals until they’re ready to govern themselves. I seem to remember that you had a development program to train the horses so that they could do something useful like pulling carriages or running races. You know, Cocky, how much I love horses.’

‘Zebras, Ma’am. In Zombia the horses are called zebras.’

‘The next time I go to open parliament I would like to have my carriage pulled by six zebra, with all the Household Cavalry trotting along the Mall on zebras. Can you do this for me, my faithful little Cocky Spaniel, so that people can see that I am Queen of all the Commonwealth, with even the wildlife at my command.’

‘I’m sorry to report, Ma’am, but last year I had to terminate the zebra program. These Zombian horses just don’t seem to appreciate British discipline and good governance. I would lock them up in the stables at night only to find out the next morning that they had kicked down the stable doors and gone frolicking in the forest.’

‘Oh really, Cocky, what a cock-up! How can we hope to civilize the wildlife and introduce British standards when even the horses won’t co-operate? So what have you been doing this past year if the zebra program failed?’

‘Well, Ma’am, having failed with zebras, I thought I’d have a try with people. I thought that people might be better than horses at appreciating British discipline and good governance.’
‘Not in my experience, Cocky. I find that horses are much easier to control.’

‘The Foreign Office has funds available for promoting democracy and …’

‘Democracy! What is that to do with you or me? These countries are self-governing. The Commonwealth is a collection of self-governing countries, not a School for Democracy!’
‘Ma’am,’ whined Cocky, as he wriggled and cringed, ‘it’s democracy that made this country what it is and …’

‘Democracy,’ said the Queen slowly, ‘is what has destroyed this country. My great-great grandmother Victoria was Queen of the largest empire in all history. Now it’s all gone. The power of the monarchy was overthrown by a bunch of ironmongers, bakers and traders. That woman Thatcher, a grocer’s daughter, had the effrontery to come to this palace every week to lecture me about good governance. Me, Queen Elizabeth, the great-great granddaughter of the Empress Victoria.’

‘And what did you used to say to her?’

‘I never spoke to the woman. Didn’t like the look of her.’

‘To return to the situation in Zombia,’ said Cocky tactfully, ‘we have to do something. The president is getting more autocratic.’

‘Every government needs somebody at the top to give the orders.’

‘But Ma’am, he is stealing from the taxpayers to build himself several palaces.’

‘That’s how my family got ahead. Buckingham Palace, Windsor, Balmoral and Sandringham. They used to be full of aristocrats who ran the country. Now they’re full of horses and corgis. Come to think of it, even my horses and corgis have more sense than this vacillating government of May or May Not.’

‘Ma’am, this Zombian president is fiddling with the constitution and rigging elections, it looks like he is trying to make himself president for life.’

‘Or make himself king. Sounds like a good idea. If only I could have all these Commonwealth countries ruled by Kings and Queens then we could make treaties between ourselves and re-establish the Empire.’

‘Yes, Ma’am. I’ll mention it to the Foreign Secretary, see if he thinks it’s a good idea.’

‘Cocky Ferguson, I’m sorry to say I’m recalling you from Zombia, you have messed up dreadfully.’

‘Yes, Ma’am. Thank you Ma’am. Is there any other job you can offer me?’

‘Only as a stable boy. You could help look after the horses.’

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