Gruinard the Abashed couldn’t complain. Not really. After all, as was constantly pointed out by the Court Sycophants he was Heir to the Throne, commonly considered a dish, comely of aspect and sturdy of build. He held a pose, he profiled especially well in the setting sun and his beetled brow was universally said to be as fine and as rugged as any in the kingdom.
And yet and yet, Gruinard wanted none of this adulation. He wanted none of the consequent fawning and genuflecting and gratuitous oohing and ahhing that followed him around Castle Comfy, his ancestral home.
His parents despaired. Queen Opal the Alright and King Glean the Sorted wanted nothing so much for their son as to feel at ease. Of course he would have to do some ruling one day, but beyond some choreographed wrist waving and the occasional proclamation, the role of Sovereign was no more taxing than, say, having a mole removed, necessary though that was to ensure the royal lawns remained pristine. That’s what they had Lord Chamberlains for. They were the ones who did the solemn and weighty stuff. No point being a Monarch if all you got was a peasants’ revolt and an ulcer.
Therefore after one especially painful Royal Flaunt at which Gruinard hid behind the curtain, the King and the Queen sat with their principle advisor, Lord Stern of Countenance to discuss that regular worry of all fictionalised fairyland monarchies ‘What must be done?’
It boiled down to two possibilities. On the one hand give the boy what he wanted (King Glean); or on the other make the boy do what has always worked in the past (Queen Opal).
‘He must be allowed to find himself.’
‘He must be found a wife.’
Lord Stern did some fairly impressive frowning and emitted a couple of pretty telling harrumpfs before opining, ‘Both are required.’
And so it came to pass. Gruinard was given a year to go forth and spend time as an unroyal spreading oats and other grains in an agricultural rite of passage while the Queen swiped right left and centre in the hope of stumbling on a suitable match.
Twelve months passed and Gruinard plied the females and scattered his good seed all around (later this was misheard by a deaf minstrel who penned the royal dirge ‘He ploughed the fields and scattered the good seed all around’) before ceasing his Royal Roistering and heading for home.
His mother waited for him. She looked appalled. ‘Gruinard, get in there and get yourself ready. Look at your hair. Do something. You’ll be wed in an hour.’
Gruinard sat in his chamber and considered his lot. All things considered he was ok. A bit tired but, yes, he was ready to be Kingly and marry. He picked up his Royal sword and a strand of hair. No, he’d keep the tresses as a memory of his gap year. Instead he turned the sword round and began to clean his nails. It was the least he could do.
This was written in response to the latest #writephoto prompt