Featured image art by 六道, at: https://www.pixiv.net/en/artworks/78534355
By Gudrun, Senior Staff Writer for The Arendelle Guardian
Her Majesty’s bill for an alliance with other nations passed both houses of the Grand Assembly (Arendelle’s parliament) the other week. As Anna’s allies celebrate this milestone in her legislative agenda, it is important to remember how unlikely it was for Arendelle to even set out on this path of international leadership. The speed by which the monarch was able to lay the foundation blocks of this ambitious project is also unprecedented.
A clue to understanding Her Majesty’s intent lies in the list of countries to be included in the alliance: Dun Broch, Corona, Vakretta, Chathoan, Zaria, and Vesterland. These are all states of middling size, like Arendelle, and they notably share similar vulnerabilities with our own kingdom. When the Queen proposed this entente, diplomats, politicians, and observers interpreted it as a treaty positioning Arendelle against the great maritime empires that currently control much of the known world. While Arendelle has enjoyed relative prosperity and stability for generations, geographical, political, and historical considerations have prevented it from expanding beyond its shores and acquiring large tracts of land and resources like France, Britain, and several others.
Furthermore, Queen Anna’s own claim to legitimacy as our monarch is one of having saved our kingdom from the wrath of the spirits by destroying her grandfather’s dam. It was an act of rebellion against colonial rule and exploitation. And she herself is a child of mixed heritage; she will not betray her Northuldran blood by engaging in imperialism.
The grand alliance is the government’s answer to the geopolitical context in which Arendelle finds itself. In today’s international environment, the realm is in danger of being bullied, coerced, or outright colonized by imperial states, and it is the sovereign’s duty to guide her country into the most secure position possible.
Integral to Anna’s reformulation of Arendelle’s “strategic culture” was Honeymaren, who accepted an invitation from Anna to steer the new Northuldran embassy in Arendelle (who in turn was following the Snow Queen’s advice after a sleepover in Northuldra). Honeymaren has become a reliable partner in the diplomatic game, and has already been included in Anna’s war council.
Honeymaren is also the facilitator of the Queen’s long-term vision to integrate Northuldra into the family of nations, that it might withstand, as a single unit with Arendelle, attempts at economic exploitation or military conquest. It is for this reason that she has, in the extraordinary span of just a few months, joined Anna’s inner court, that most secretive circle of trusted confidants whose membership and numbers are not known to the public or even government officials.
A small country like Arendelle cannot solely rely on military might, despite the rapid reform and modernization of Arendelle’s army and navy under Queen Anna’s most trusted commander, General Mattias. That is why in the opening months of her reign, Her Majesty rapidly assembled one of the most competent, seasoned, and wily corps of elite diplomats to walk the corridors of Arendellian power. These plenipotentiaries have seen action across the world, from negotiating with shoguns and emperors to exploiting windows of economic opportunity left by retreating empires like Spain and and Portugal. They are currently focused on the East India Company crisis, which pits the Queen against the imperial might of Great Britain – another serious test for Anna.
An analysis of the government’s annual budget reveals that the Queen has actually invested far more money in diplomatic offices and Arendelle’s espionage network than the army and navy. Her strategists seem to be building on a strong Nordic tradition of managing larger countries to the benefit of smaller ones.
Accepting that information is power and the only real leverage a small kingdom can have over big empires, Anna has eyes and ears across the world. With substantial benefits to offer potential friends and allies, it is no wonder why so many countries have expressed their willingness to join this alliance. After all, this was a kingdom that, even during the reign of Anna’s sister Elsa, was not prominent on the world stage. Now it is as if Queen Anna has exploded onto the global arena, brandishing a sword and warning other countries to hear her roar. Her lioness instincts, in truth, were rumbling within her heart long ago.