Princess Present Excerpt

September 21st, 2004

Hello. I hope you'll enjoy this excerpt from my new Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Genovian Holiday book,
Princess Diaries 5 ½, Princess Present, available in stores everywhere today.

Wednesday, December 23, 11PM
Royal Genovian Bedchamber

Disaster.

First of all, I don't know what's wrong with Lilly. I mean, I KNOW that the palace is filled with riches that, if sold, could feed hundreds of thousands of starving people. The Faberge advent calendar alone—being an exact replica of the Genovian palace, only in Faberge's version, each shuttered window can be opened to reveal a perfectly-cut jewel, one for every day of advent—is insured for seventeen million dollars.

But hello. The Faberge advent calendar is not MINE. The Da Vinci sketches in the Gallerie aren't mine, either. I do not own the Rembrandts in the Grand Hall or the Rodin in the royal garden or even the Monet hanging over the bathtub in my own royal bathing chamber.

Yet.

And until I do own them, I can't sell them and donate the money to Oxfam or Human Rights Watch, the way Lilly seems to think I should.

And what was all that about the gross materialism of Christmas while we were at the tree lighting? Hello. All I did was plug in the tree in the middle of the town square while everybody stood around clapping. Is it my fault that after the ceremony they all went back to the baccarat tables? Tourism is responsible for a very significant portion of Genovia's economy, and a big draw for the tourists is gambling.

And Genovia uses a lot of that money to help the poor, as I pointed out to Lilly on our way back to the palace. Hello, we don't even make our citizens pay TAXES.

But Lilly just went on making rude remarks, until even Michael, who is the most even-tempered of men, finally turned around and was like, “Lilly. Shut up.”

Of course she didn't listen to him.

And I knew it was only going to get worse when, after we all went to change for dinner, Lilly showed up in the Crystal Pavilion where we'd gathered for pre-meal kir royales wearing her WWJJD (What Would Joan Jett Do?) T-shirt and a pair of low-rise jeans that I happen to know for a fact her mom expressly forbade her to wear public. I practically had to throw myself on her to keep Grandmere from spying it and having a cocktail hour embolism.

“Lilly,” I hissed, “what are you doing in that? I told you, dinner here is a very formal affair.”

“Oh, what,” Lilly said, looking disgusted. “You want me to dress like that hoser over there?” She pointed at Camilla Parker-Bowles. “Yeah, because pink taffeta so suits my personality.”

“No,” I said. “But you could at least show some respect for my dad, who went to all the trouble of sending the jet for you and is putting you up for a week. I mean, you think Michael is happy wearing that suit?”

We both looked over at Michael, who was tugging at his shirt collar while having a very in-depth conversation about cyclotron frequency with Prince Andrew. Uncomfortable in his suit as Michael clearly was, he still looked totally hot.

“See?” I glared at Lilly. “Your brother knows enough not to insult his host. Why don't you?”

Lilly rolled her eyes.

“Fine,” she said. “I'll change. But you gotta show me how to get back to my room. This place is so huge, I took a wrong turn and ended up in some bowling alley….”

I looked around, and saw Franco passing by with a tray of canapés. I signaled to him, and he came right over, and said he'd be only too happy to show Miss Moscovitz back to her room. So the two of them left…for an extraordinarily long time, actually.

But by the time Lilly got back (just before Antoine came out and announced that dinner was served), she'd changed into a Betsey Johnson number that at least didn't have any writing on it, so I thought everything would be all right.

Yeah. Right.

I don't know whose idea it was to seat Lilly between my cousins Rene and Pierre, the thirteen-year-old Compt de Brissac. All I know is that midway through the soup course, Rene threw down his napkin, got up, and stormed off, muttering French swear words and saying something about how it was the fascists who drove his family from their ancestral Italian palace, not in-breeding, as Lilly had apparently suggested. He didn't come back until dessert, and even then, he took a seat at the far end of the table, vacated by one elderly duke with an apparent incontinence problem, and sat scowling into his blanc mange.

Pierre, however, didn't seem to have a problem with Lilly. In fact, he stared at her throughout the seven course meal in a manner reminiscent of the way Seth stared at Summer in the early episodes of The OC.

But attacking my family members was apparently not enough for Lilly. She had to start in on my dad's girlfriend, Philomena, next…

…which really, if you think about it, is totally beneath her. I mean, for someone of Lilly's abilities—and she scored a 210 on an online IQ test we took together earlier this year; I only got a 120 (although on the EMOTIONAL IQ test, I got a 120, and Lilly only got a 90)—goading Philomena is like shooting rubber bands at rats on the subway tracks.

“So, Philo,” Lilly began, conversationally. “You meet a lot of princes, in your line of work?”

Philomena smiled and went, “Oh, no, not so many.”

“So when you finally do meet one, you really have to hang onto him,” Lilly said, in a this-is-just-between-us-girls tone.

“Oh, well,” Philomena said with a laugh, glancing at my dad to see if he was listening—he wasn't. He was talking to King Juan Carlos of Spain about golf. “Yes, of course.”

“Because,” Lilly went on, in the same conspiratorial manner, “seeing as how you make your living on your looks and never bothered to pursue any kind of higher education, as soon as your boobs start to sag your modeling agency will kick you out on your butt and you won't have two euros to rub together, will you? So you better marry a prince—or a rock star—pronto or it's buh-bye those four hundred dollar highlights, right?”

“Lilly,” I said, starting to get up. “Can I have a word with you in the salon?”

“No need,” Lilly said, with a dazzling smile. “Oh, look. The cheese course.”

Fortunately Philomena lacked a firm enough grasp on the English language—or was simply too dumb–to have understood what Lilly was saying to her. She just smiled and looked confused, her usual expression.

Pierre, however, looked totally impressed. I even heard him murmur, over his St. Andre triple cream, “Mademoiselle, you intoxicate me.”

To which Lilly replied, “You have Roquefort on your cravat, kid.”

As if all that wasn't bad enough, after dinner, when the adults went into the salon for cigars and port and gossip, and I was left to entertain the younger royals with Fanta, some spoons, and a deck of cards, Lilly looked around, yawned, and said, “Jet lag. Going to bed. See you tomorrow,” and vanished!

Michael and I were forced to play Spoon for TWO HOURS with Pierre and a bunch of other under-twenty-one royals…who, by the way, weren't very impressed with the game. Prince Harry kept asking why we couldn't play strip poker instead.

You know, you would have thought that all of us royals would get along much better, considering each and every one of us (well, except Michael) has the weight of a throne resting upon our teenaged shoulders, and several of us know what it's like to have movies made about our lives…movies that aren't exactly stric
tly FACTUAL, if you know what I mean, and take a certain number of LIBERTIES with the truth.

I don't know how Michael managed to stay awake, having just come from another time zone, and all. I know MY eyelids were drooping, and I'd had three days to get used to Genovian time already. I barely even managed to kiss him good night before stumbling into my room and into bed.

As if all of that isn't bad enough, someone topped my $50.00 bid on Michael's Star Wars poster! With only twelve hours left on the bidding, I put in a high bid of $75.00. With expedited shipping to get it here by Christmas, I am only just barely going to be able–

Oh my God. What is that? Someone is at my balcony door!

Oooooh. Not someone. Michael.

Suddenly I don't feel so sleepy anymore….