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The Tyranny of the Queen – The Cutlery Caper
by Rod Bartchy

The Queen has eliminated pasta, rice, and potatoes from the menu at Buckingham Palace, all food favorites for Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex.  The Queen thinks they’re too starchy. 

That’s just a flimsy cover story for the ongoing hazing of Meghan Markle by the Royal family.  It’s part of the long tradition at the House of Windsor for newcomers.  Test their mettle and all that rot. 

Prince Philip, at 97, is still bitter about being ordered to wear a kilt and tweeds at a 1954 state dinner for the Scottish First Minister only to find everyone else in black tie and evening gowns.  The Queen still smirks telling the story.

But now another state dinner is just a week away and the Duchess is unprepared. 

Who could blame her? Royal dining parties involve enough cutlery at a single plate to serve a family of 4. 

Five forks, four knives, four spoons, three plates, two saucers, two cups, a bowl and 5 glasses.   An intimidating array of choices.   Yet make one error and the Queen will have your ass on a platter.

So, let’s observe as the Duchess attends cutlery boot camp. 

She sits at one solo table.  The Queen presides at a neighboring table, dressed in Royal Marine fatigues and her day crown, bullhorn in hand.  

“Soup!” she barks to the wait staff.

Meghan hesitates for a moment as the soup is poured.

“The big spoon, Meghan!” the Queen shouts.  “Next to the demitasse spoon.  Good God, woman, what will you do when you’re sitting next to Lord Bladderfish.  One breach of etiquette and the man farts like a bulldog on a diet of black beans.”

Meghan’s a little shaky, but dips her soup spoon into a bowl of cold cream of pea and lard soup, a Royal favorite.

“Stop!”  the Queen exclaims.  “Did you see me eat first?  No…too busy playing with your cutlery.”

Chastened, Meghan puts the spoon back on the tablecloth.  The Queen reddens and hurls her seafood fork at the Duchess.

“Not back on the tablecloth!  On your plate, girl.  Do you know what I pay in tablecloth laundry bills? Bring the fish!”

Men in white jackets swiftly clear the soup bowls, then hurry out with a whole fish on a plate, still twitching.   The Duchess freezes.

“Get used to it, honey. Carp tartare.  Put it down like a big girl and hack off a piece.” The Queen orders.

Meghan grabs the knife and fork closest to the plate for this first course.

“Cease!”  the Queen commands.  “Does it look like a side of beef?  No!  But there you are with the meat knife and fork, prepared to shame it in its final moments.”

Meghan replaces the cutlery. 

“Eating it with your hands?  Pick up some cutlery, dammit.  I’m not getting any younger here!”

The Duchess picks another knife and fork and steels herself to dispatch the fish when it emits a full sentence”

“The rain in Spain falls mainly on the plain”

It’s one of those talking mechanical fish that men mount on knotty pine walls.  But Meghan doesn’t know it, shrieks, and plunges her knife into the thing, stilling it.

“Finally.  Prince Philip’s had the damn thing for years. Time it went to the bin.”

And so it went for several hours.   Meghan left, made her way to the basement of the Palace to the New Royals Bar.  Several flagons of ale later she unloaded her frustration to a room of lesser royals trying to drown their own boot camp memories in booze.

“Markle...(hic)…I mean mark my words...(urp)…she’ll pay for that...”  Then the Duchess passed out and was carried to her suite.

The next evening the Ambassador from Uzbekistan was to be feted at a royal state dinner.  But an hour before, someone let the Duchess sneak in to check on one particular place setting.

Royals, the Prime Minister, the Ambassador and other notables in formal attire proceeded to the grand banquet hall where the Queen sat at the head of the long table. Waiters swarmed into the room with the soup.  All eyes went to the Queen for the first taste.

But her soup spoon was firmly glued to the table cloth.  Flustered, she reflexively reached for the teaspoon. It too was stuck.

“Dammit, Elizabeth, just use the demitasse spoon and slurp up your porridge” Prince Philip growled irritably. 

The Queen glared at him.  She knew this was payback for 1954. This time it was the who Prince smirked.

The Queen dipped her demitasse spoon in the soup.   Several seats away a loud fart burst out.  It was Lord Bladderfish, massively breaking wind, aghast at the Queen’s breach of etiquette.  Next to him, Meghan sat in full Duchess mode, smiling demurely, and gave the Queen a wink.  

The rest of the dinner was rough on the Queen, who could only free a butter knife and a cake fork from the tablecloth to eat a 12 course dinner.  But now she respected the Duchess as a worthy adversary.  Game on. 

The next day at the polo fields.  

“Why your Majesty, I think someone put laxative in your apple juice”

“Nice try Meghan.  But Prince Charles ran that gambit for years.  I never touch the juice.  But honey, your tea contained an intense diuretic. And you’ll be waiting for hours until I get up before you can pee.  Enjoy the polo match.”