Poem

Maxine Beneba Clarke
Indiscretions

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 Saturday Paper’s poet laureate, and the author of The Hate Race and Foreign Soil. She is a winner of the Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for Poetry.

Our journalism is founded on trust and independence

Register your email for free access or log in if you already subscribe

      Keep Reading                 Subscribe