Corona Princess Diaries Day 13
Hello, everybody! I hope you’re all still staying safe and healthy during this difficult time.
Entries from Princess Mia Thermopolis of Genovia’s diary* have fallen into my hands, and as the princess’s royal biographer, it’s my duty to share them with you!
*Please keep in mind that as with any diary, the princess is only recording her thoughts at the given moment, and has had no copy editing. Also, both the princess and I are aware that this is a serious and rapidly developing crisis.
I would like to thank health care workers, first responders, and everyone else out there working to keep us healthy, safe, and fed right now. If you’d like to help people who are in need during this crisis, I suggest supporting your local food bank. Find one here.
And if you like to read, please support your local indie bookstore (many will deliver books to your home) by ordering them here at BookStoreLink.
I hope you enjoy this thirteenth FREE installment of The Princess Diaries – Quarantine Edition.
– Royal Bedroom –
This morning I was in my office on the phone with the chancellor of Germany, trying to get some corona test strips (we cannot re-open the country until we’ve tested everyone, like my role model country, Iceland, who also has 100% literacy) when Grandmere appeared in front of my desk with Derek, the student from the University of Florida whom we are sheltering here at the palace until the airport re-opens and I can send him home.
I should have known something was up. Both Derek and my grandmother were smiling broadly.
Never in a million years, however, could I have guessed what was making them so happy.
“May I help you?” I asked, when I finished my call.
“Be the first to congratulate me,” Grandmere said, and held out her hand.
On her left ring finger glittered the smallest diamond imaginable.
I’m sorry to say that my reaction was not at all princessy.
“What?” I cried, nearly falling out of my chair.
“That’s right.” Grandmere looked smug as she withdrew her hand to curl it around Derek’s ample bicep—which was bare, by the way, because he was wearing board shorts and a tank top with the number 24 on it. “We’re getting married. Sooner rather than later. I feel that the Genovian people need something to celebrate right now, don’t you? And after a birth, a marriage is the most joyous celebration of all.”
“The people need something to celebrate, all right,” I said. “But it most definitely is not going to be your marriage to—” I stared at Derek. “Forgive me, but what is your last name?”
“Oh, no worries, it’s cool,” said Derek. “Zagorski. Derek Zagorski.”
“Thank you. Well, one thing the people of Genovia most definitely do not need right now, Grandmere, is to celebrate your marriage to Derek Zagorski.”
“Oh?” Grandmere raised her drawn-on eyebrows to their limits. “And why is that, pray?”
“Because you’ve only known one another for two weeks!”
“Three weeks!” Grandmere cried, rolling the r in three as she is wont to do when being particularly dramatic about something.
“Fine, three weeks. How many marriages do you know of that worked out well after a mere three weeks of acquaintance?”
“Lyle Lovett and Julia Roberts!”
“I don’t think that’s the best example.” I looked at Derek. “Do you even know who Lyle Lovett and Julia Roberts are?”
Derek shook his shaggy head. I don’t know if he wore his hair shoulder length on purpose or because all the barber shops in Europe had been closed for so long. That couldn’t possibly explain the beard, though. Surely someone must have taught him how to shave.
“No,” he said, happily. “Well, Lyle, bro, for sure. His music’s real sweet. As for the Julie chick – no. But it’s all good.”
Of course it was ‘all good’ . . . for Derek! He was a penniless student currently engaged to a dowager princess worth hundreds of millions of dollars (mostly in real estate and jewels, but still). Things were more than ‘all good’ for Derek!
“Grandmere,” I said, from between gritted teeth. “May I have a word with you in private?”
Grandmere bristled. “No, you may not—not if you’re going to attempt to talk me out of marrying Derek. Because I won’t be talked out of it, Amelia. I think it’s a perfectly splendid idea. We’ve all been cooped up inside for months—”
Me: “Two weeks.”
Grandmere: “—and a wedding is exactly what we all need to feel alive again! It’s past time to re-open the country and allow the people to go back to their normal lives—most especially to plan for my royal wedding to Derek. People love planning for a festive occasion, and what is more festive than a wedding? I’ve already phoned Sebastiano to make up my gown—”
Me: “Sebastiano is in quarantine in the Hamptons. How is he going to make a wedding gown for you when he is 4,000 miles away?”
Grandmere: “Love always finds a way! Let the Royal Genovian Guard know that the beaches and parks are to be opened again so that the people can experience the freedom I feel in my heart—”
Me: “Nope. Not happening.”
Grandmere: “And of course all the shops and boutiques must re-open immediately so that the people can begin their wedding gift shopping—”
Me: “Absolutely not.”
Grandmere: “And what’s a wedding without music? You must fly that what-his-name over to perform a live concert on the beach in honor of my engagement – ”
Me: “Boris P?”
Grandmere: “Yes. Him. The people deserve it, don’t you think? And Derek will of course be creating a spectacular playlist to go with the fireworks display that you will be setting off in my honor on the eve of our nuptials—”
Me: “That will be happening over my dead body. And yours, too.”
Grandmere: “Of course we can have the groomsmen bring out the royal coach—“
Me: “The groomsmen have all been sent home to be with their families until the crisis is over.”
Grandmere: “Well, the stable hands, then. And of course the casinos must be re-opened. Can you believe that Derek has never played baccarat?”
Me: “I can believe that, and no, I won’t be re-opening the casinos anytime soon.”
Grandmere: “Oh, and we must have wedding cake, Amelia. Something simple like the one you had at your wedding will suffice. I’ve always admired your self-effacing ways. Mine is a second marriage, anyway, so I wouldn’t want to look as if I’m putting on airs. Just make sure that it’s large enough to serve five hundred, because that’s how many people I intend to invite to the reception.”
Me: “Oh, really? That’s all?”
Grandmere: “Well, I don’t want to overdo it. People are suffering, you know. It would be boorish to appear too ostentatious in light of current world events. Oh, and make sure they bring out all the best champagne from the royal wine cellar. It’s the perfect way to say, ‘The emergency is over, everyone! Come out, come out, and celebrate with us!’”
Me: “Sure, sure. But you do understand that the emergency is not over, right? There’s still no cure or vaccine. We don’t even know whether people like Chad, Derek’s friend, who’ve had the virus, can catch it again. I presume you’ll want Chad to attend?” I directed this inquiry to Derek.
“Damn straight,” he said. “Chad’s my bro!”
“Yes,” I said. “I’m sure he is your, er, bro. Well, you see, that might pose a problem considering he’s still in the hospital.”
“We can wait until he’s out,” Grandmere said, with a dismissive wave of her hand. “I’m certain it will only be for a few more days. That will give us time to register for our gifts. And of course to make arrangements for all of Derek’s family to be flown in from Dayton.”
“Daytona,” Derek corrected her.
“My mistake. Daytona.”
“Well,” I said. “That might be a problem, as well, given that the airport is still closed to both domestic and international flights.”
“Well, you must open it, Amelia! What are you thinking? It’s for the good of the people!”
“Yes, I will take that under consideration,” I said. “Can I just ask a personal question first, though?”
“Why him?” I smiled apologetically at the groom-to-be, who was stroking his beard while checking his text messages. “No offense, Derek.”
“Oh, yo, no worries,” he said, amiably.
“Thanks. I won’t worry.” To my grandmother I said, “Seriously, though. What is it about Mr. Zagorski that makes him Dowager Prince Consort material?”
She blinked at me as if I were the crazy one. “How can you not see it, Amelia? He is me, in male form. He is my soulmate.”
I’m sorry to say I snorted. I couldn’t help it.
“Your soulmate? And what, precisely, do you and Derek, a nineteen year old student from the University of Florida, have in common?”
“Music,” Grandmere said. “Derek and I share the deepest of loves for the language of song.”
This was such complete and utter baloney. My grandmother had never in her life expressed a great love for music. Except for when she’d been in school and played Yum Yum in The Mikado—a fact she would never let any of us forget, particularly by singing ‘Three Little Maids From School Are We’ every morning before coming to the breakfast table, until my father established a “No Singing Before Breakfast” rule—she has never cared one jot for music.
“Yeah,” Derek said, finally looking up from his phone. “Your grandma has a dope record collection.”
Oh, dear God.
“Yes,” I said. “I’m sure she does.” Some of Grandmere’s records are, in fact, 78s, of which she takes abysmal care, even though they’re quite rare. “But is that enough on which to build a foundation for a life long relationship?” Although in Grandmere’s case it might be, because who knows how many years she’s got left?
Then again, she smokes and drinks so much, she is basically pickled.
“Royals who have far less in common with their chosen spouses seem to have done fairly well in their marriages,” Grandmere shot back. “Look at Prince Harry.”
It was my turn to bristle. “How dare you!” She knows how I feel about my darling Harry and Meghan.
“Or you and Michael,” she added, savagely.
I actually gasped. “Michael and I have tons in common!”
“Do you?” Her smile was venomous. “A celebrated robotic engineer and a . . . princess?”
I’m sorry to say I lost my temper then. “Stop it! You know what I’m talking about! Derek is nineteen and you’re ninety, at least!”
Grandmere sucked in her breath as sharply as if I’d slapped her. Derek, however, merely shrugged. “Hey,” he said. “I don’t care about age. It’s only a number.”
Grandmere, however, had saved her final, most brutal barb for last: “You are being ageist, Amelia,” she said. “I never would have expected it from you, of all people. But there it is.”
Ageist! I was not being ageist . . . was I? It didn’t matter to me what age Derek was – or Grandmere either, for that matter. I would be against her marrying ANYONE she’d known for only three weeks.
And certainly suspicious of her motives, because she is not, in the words of Robert Browning, a woman whose heart is too soon made glad.
“But after all,” Grandmere cried, taking Derek in her arms. “Love is love is love, is it not, my sweet?
“Damn straight,” Derek said, and then the two of them – ugh, I can hardly write it here – kissed.
Right in front of me!
“Okay,” I said. “Fine.”
Grandmere pried her lips off her groom-to-be long enough to ask, “Does that mean you’re giving us your blessing, Amelia?”
Fortunately, I kept my cool. I said, in my most princessy tone, “Absolutely. Allow me to be the first to congratulate you on your forthcoming nuptials. As legal adults, you can apply for a marriage license at any time.”
Grandmere and Derek both gasped with excitement, and hugged one another, and kissed some more. But I wasn’t finished.
“But there isn’t going to be any sort of wedding like the one you’re describing . . . at least, not anytime soon. If your love is really as strong as you say, then you should be happy to wait for your five hundred person reception until it’s safe for the country to re-open. In the meantime, if you can’t wait, Derek’s family can certainly be present at your nuptials via Zoom, and all of your family will be there for you, too, Grandmere . . . wearing face masks and seated six feet apart in the palace chapel where you two can be married at once by an online justice of the peace.”
“But,” Grandmere sputtered. “But . . . the only point was for us . . .to re-open the country – for the good of the people, of course – !”
“Exactly. And believe me, I’m doing this for the good of the people,” I said. “And my own sanity. Have a lovely day.”
Then I left—even though it was my own office—and went down to the palace kitchen and ate half a dozen chocolate chip cookies Chef Bernard had just baked for dessert for the children’s lunch, washed down with several glasses of wine.
Only one more day until Michael is out of self-isolation!
Come back very soon for more entries from THE CORONA PRINCESS DIARIES!