Maxine Beneba Clarke

my grandma, she loved diana:

                    the people’s princess, after all


she’d say

                          that was no accident;

                  how convenient for the royals


squinting knowingly into the distance

in her eerie seer’s way

                  the princess more adored than royalty

                              and her brown sweetheart,

                                                              out of the way



history tells us

         british royalty are accountable

                                     to none



just ask queen catherine howard,

            jailed winter, 1541:


henry the eighth’s poor doomed fifth wife,

beheaded, at his whim


royalty knows no justice

     just ask queen anne boleyn


accused of adultery, and incest

        and plotting to kill the king

(also failed to produce a male heir)


                    down came the swordsman’s swing




royalty, they tell us, is a law

        unto their own



we called edward the eighth the king of hearts

for abdicating the throne

          to wed an american divorcee, circa 1936,

whisper-scandalous at the (did-you-hear!?) time

         but the real outrage is this:



      the exiled couple courted hitler:

sympathisers, at the least


        at worst,

it’s said they fed state secrets

                              to the german war machine



affairs beheadings disloyalties

orgies tax havens and gropes

                     courtiers giggling

in the hallways


that seems mostly the way it goes




history tells us

         royalty are accountable

                                 to none 


just ask queen catherine howard, jailed

       winter, 1541



                                          and yet


we’re taught the prince will save us:

slashing bramble, braving moats

                         banishing evil from the kingdom,

as if it doesn’t tread where he goes



                                          and now


         prince andrew’s off royal duties

as the accusations sell


the sex offender he cavorted with

                    has died in jail, and well,

it was maybe even murder

                     – so the rumour mills would say –


that before he could tell us what he knew,

                       his secrets went to the grave




the palace advises against all press, the

prince sweats and obfuscates



                     i don’t recall ever meeting that girl

            and the photo could be fake



                           it can’t have been me,

i haven’t sweated since the falklands war

                                         (did i mention i was a soldier,

                       i do feel like that’s important)





perhaps it’s time the monarchy

                     were quietly put to bed



they’re expensive, for dinner table talk,


                                                 and keeping the tabloids fed

Maxine Beneba Clarke is the author of The Hate Race and Foreign Soil. She is a winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry.

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