Prince George wakes up very early on the morning of his first birthday. Unlike other royal babies, he is not shy about his desire to rule. He cries until his nanny rushes over and picks him up from the crib.
Carry me to the changing table, he orders her. She complies and wipes his bottom and replaces his nappy. Yes, that’s better, he says. He’s promised her a high role in his cabinet once he becomes king. He pulls her close. Loyalty, he tells her, is greatly rewarded. But cross me, and I’ll make you pay.
She shoves his legs and arms through the holes in his sailor onesie.
The plan: set his birthday cake outside all day in the heat so that when great-granny and granpapa and daddy eat it they all get sick and he, Prince George of Cambridge, will ascend to the throne.
The nanny tickles his belly. “Happy birthday, Georgie.”
He giggles. Yes, it will be a very happy birthday indeed.
After milk and porridge for breakfast, he crawls towards the kitchen to check if the plan is underway. He barely gets past his toys before his mum picks him up.
“Georgie, where are you off to?” She sets him in her lap and bounces him on her knee as she flaps his arms. The motion is unsettling.
Mum, I have business to attend to, he tells her. She smiles and sings to him. He can’t help but smile back. Oh mother.
Luckily, she passes him to daddy who quickly has a phone call and drops him to the ground. He heads for the open kitchen door. There are pairs of feet dancing around on the floor. They must be searching for the cake. It should be on the other side of the back wall, out of sight.
As he nears the doorway, almost in a position to look for the butterfly figurine the nanny was supposed to leave by the refrigerator to signal that the deed was done, one of cooks slams the door shut. Gingerfoot. So close. Well, he just has to trust the nanny.
Naptime. Good dream. Crown on his head.
In the afternoon, he eats mashed potatoes and broiled beef for lunch then plays outside with his Auntie Pippa and Uncle Harry. They are both amazed when he stands on his feet and waddles towards the foam football. That’s nothing, he says. Wait till this evening. They are already leaning on the grass, bowing to him.
Another nap. Even better. A golden pacifier and his very own airplane.
In the evening, before the cake, there are gifts. This he does not mind. Dinner was not so ideal. An obscene amount of vegetables. Perhaps great-granny or granpapa or daddy had gotten wind of his plot and tried to take him down first. But no such luck. He stomached it all. Now, he’s being presented with stuffed animals, flying toys, designer clothing, and a new silver pram.
He sits on the floor, nodding at the offerings. In truth, he deserves much much more, but the real gift will be arriving very soon.
“Georgie, are you ready for your cake!” his mum says.
He claps. Oh yes. Everybody is here. If possible, he would spare his mum, but sacrifices have to be made.
The kitchen door flings open. Two waiters walk in with the cake. They found it. Good. Daddy makes space on the table for the birthday treat. Great-granny wipes her face with a napkin. Granpapa belches into his hands. His nanny? Where is she? Oh there chatting with Uncle Harry, keeping up appearances.
Daddy lights the large birthday candle and they all sing. Their voices are horrid. Not that he dislikes them for it. He loves them all, in fact. But those who stand in your way must be crushed. You must conquer in order to rule.
His nanny places him in his high chair. Daddy cuts the cake. He cannot see for sure if it is melted enough to damage their tummies.
Mum brings him the first slice. He cries. No chance he’s going to eat it.
The others begin to eat theirs. No reaction. Come on. His mother tries to force a forkful into his mouth. He cries even louder.
“This cake tastes delightful,” his great-granny says.
Hickory nut. They shouldn’t be enjoying it.
Mum calls the nanny over. Why isn’t it working? What did she do? The nanny only smiles at him. She lifts up the fork of cake. Treasonous whistleplug.
You didn’t leave the cake out. You ruined the plan.
“Come on. It’s a tasty treat.”
I warned you. You’ll regret this. He pulls back his arm and swats the fork. The cake flies into her face.
“Georgie!” she screams.
Everybody is looking towards him now. They are laughing. They think this is funny. I should be king, he yells.
He cries his eyes out. His mother brings him to his crib. When he’s too exhausted to emit any more tears, mum brings him back to the party.
Auntie Pippa tries to feed him more cake. Hungry, he accepts the offer. The cake is good. Cold. He motions his Auntie closer. What do you know about explosives? he asks her.
She tickles his stomach. They both smile.
Yes, next year, he’ll get what he wants for his birthday: George VII, His Majesty The King, ruler of the United Kingdom, protector of British dominions near and far.
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