When I settled down to devour this book, I naturally wondered, “Who is this ‘secret royal’?!” At last, a spilling of the golden-tinned Windsor beans! Indeed, enough spilled beans for all of us to enjoy with our ever-more expensive breakfasts before we go about our day, safe in the knowledge that we’re being long reigned over, all over us.
It’s no spoiler to say that The Diary of a Secret Royal: Dodgy
Private Dispatches From the House of Windsor is penned by ‘Fenton Footlicker’, Chamberlain of Non-Disclosure Agreements to the Crown. Wait, Chamberlain of NDAs? Do they actually have one of those? It’s said here that British monarchs have had one from the same family since the Saxons, Fenton being the most recent incumbent. Then again, when a book is dedicated to “the staff at Woking Pizza Express”, Worn does start to wonder.
“We were supposed to do a ‘hospital opening skills’ refresher course with some of the lesser royals, the Prince and Princess Michael of Kent, the Duke and Duchess of Gloucester, that lot, but seeing as the Tory manifesto pledge to build forty new hospitals is utter bollocks, I got them out looking for Noriega instead.”
There are many startling revelations in this tell-all. The Princess Royal’s association with the Satan’s Slaves motorcycle gang. Prince William’s dossier on the moon landings. How many disappeared Corgis can be hidden in one crypt. And the way ‘the Firm’ interacts with “the Californians”, Harry and Meghan. Not to mention how photographs are leaked to the one news outlet to rule them all, the Daily Mail.
This breaking of an NDA by the man in charge of NDAs is extremely funny. And I found myself, two-thirds of the way in, rather warming to the Windsors as a family. Well, okay, not all of them. Then suddenly the Windsor-and-Epstein-friendship commemorative coin (free to all, only £2.50, legal tender in Gibraltar) dropped and I realised this is no bean-spiller. Because those NDAs do actually work, you know. This was satire!
The Cambridge Dictionary defines ‘satire’ as a “way of criticising people or ideas in a humorous way, especially in order to make a political point”. Written by Wales resident Welsh-learner Henry Morris and published by Harper Collins, The Diary of a Secret Royal is a tale of life inside the House or, more accurately, the houses of Windsor from the point of view of long-suffering aide Fenton.
He, like the PG Wodehouse character Jeeves before him, is a problem-solver, a source of common sense in a place where sense is definitely not common, a fixer, a manipulator, a leaker of stories, a dirty laundrette of a man who eases the path for our god-given-right-to-rulers. Fenton also runs the Crown Duals on the side, Royal doppelgangers trained in “elite hand-waving and ribbon-cutting”, all ready to take the place of the usual suspects when needed.
Or is it?
“King Charles has given Prince Andrew responsibility for the royal corgis. He thinks the job is a perfect fit for his brother, because Andrew is good at grooming.”
I mean, of course it’s satire, isn’t it? It’s just that out there in the actual, spherical world the lines become more and more blurred every day. It’s almost as if the most frequent targets of satirical jesters have out-manoeuvred satire by behaving in such a way that the truth becomes stranger than the satire that’s supposed to mock and expose it.
Truths like when the UK Government said it was cutting the Sovereign Grant, while in reality King Charles was actually getting a 45% pay rise. Or when Prince Andrew paid upwards of £12mn to his accuser in a case involving sex trafficking and assault while ‘admitting no wrongdoing’. Most satirists would feel the stretch at making that up. They might even sweat a bit.
Add to all that the ’Bracelets of Sincerity and Wisdom’ and a long list of other strangely named shiny things that you need to crown a monarch in 21st century Food Bank Britain, and you can safely say that reality has given satire a run for its money.
In some other countries, including Belgium, Germany, Spain, and Thailand, there can be serious punishments for having a right royal laugh. At least here in the UK mocking the head of state is still legal. Well, unless you want to hold up a banner with ‘NOT MY KING’ written on it, or rhyme ‘prince’ with ‘nonce’. That’ll get you in hot water, sure enough. Or mugged by royalists. There will have been lawyers all over this book like jousters at a right royal knock-out.
Dodgy and delicious diary
“It was a fine little speech. But as we led the motley rabble away for interrogation, the King heartily congratulated us on our achievement of ensuring that ten of Britain’s biggest twats played no further part in this book.”
Henry Morris is an astute and cunningly amusing man with an epic mullet, and his book is very much worth a read to lighten your day. His is also one of the few Twitter accounts I read, since he revealed that he’s ‘The Secret Tory MP’ as well as ‘The Secret Royal’.
But given the devilish nature of satire now, in all fairness we really must ask: is Henry Morris a real person or is that, too, a nom de plume? I mean, a lot of Henrys use the name Harry, don’t they? Oh! Could it be …? Also, internet sleuths, the initials HM could be a clue. Start your engines.
Whether or not the mullet is a beard, the laugh-out-loud moments his book gave me were very definitely real. Thanks, Henry, – or is it Harry? – you deserve a knighthood! It’s not bloody likely, though, is it? I hope HM enjoys visiting the Tower of London and being detained at HM’s Pleasure.