“Really?” said His Majesty.
“Yes, sire,” said Mr. Black patiently, “God arranges it.”
“Oh good,” said the king weakly. “That’s very clever of Him.”
“And for full ratification, you understand, you must stand on the soil in England, but in these unusual circumstances,” Mr. Black went on, “and uncertain times, and so on and so forth, we thought it might save any argument—if we were delayed, for example—if the crown was firmly on your head. It would save any hairsplitting arguments—with the French, for instance—which can take such a long time.”
“There was the Hundred Years’ War, for example,” said a second gentleman.
“Well pointed out, Mr. Amber. In any case, we will have another coronation once we get home—which must, now, be a matter of some urgency, of course. Bunting, cheering, souvenir mugs for the children, that sort of thing. But in this case the Crown thought it would send out the right message to get you sorted out, as I might say, as soon as possible.” As he spoke, two of his colleagues began to take apart, with great care, the small crate they had brought ashore with them.
“Am I not the Crown?” asked His Majesty.
“No, sire, you are the king, sire,” said Mr. Black patiently. “You are, like us, underneath it. Subject to it.”
“But surely I can give you orders?”
“You can certainly make requests, sire, and we will do our very best to help. But, alas, you cannot give us orders. My word, we would be in a bad way if we took orders from kings. Isn’t that so, Mr. Brown?”
One of the men working on the crate looked up briefly. “It would be Charles the First all over again, Mr. Black.”
“You never said a truer word, Mr. Brown,” said Mr. Black. “It would be Charles the First all over again, and I don’t think any of us want to see Charles the First all over again, do we?”