By HM Queen Anna
Her Majesty’s column is published exclusively by The AG. This piece was reprinted from our last morning edition.
Well, after many days of Viscount Palmerston long overstaying his welcome at the palace, I’m pleased to tell you that I signed with him a concordat.
There will be no war with the British Empire, and nor will either country be seen to be the loser. I successfully convinced him to make an example of the East India Company for their attack on our Bjorgman House ships – it was quite a gamble! I’m still new to this diplomacy thing, but what I needed to do was convince him that Arendelle and Britain have no reason to go to war, but every reason to punish the EIC.
I was armed with plenty of news reports, many of them supplied by journalists employed at this very paper, of the EIC’s corruption, greed, and venality in the princely states of India – that they were brutalizing the local population, sucking up British government subsidies, and paying little to no taxes to the state coffers. Honestly, I don’t think the British foreign secretary cared a jot about the first matter, but the other two, very much so.
“I can’t compensate Bjorgman House for the lost cargo,” he told me, “since I’ve just won a war with the Qing Empire, because a fellow called Lin Zexu destroyed opium belonging to private merchants. In this case, our government touched no wares from Bjorgman House and owe Kristoff nothing.”
“How you protect drug traffickers is not my business,” I said coolly. “All I ask is that you punish the EIC in a way that saves you face, while placating me. Do you really want to continue protecting them when they’re becoming a small empire unto themselves?”
Lord Palmerston scratched his balding head. “You have a point. The EIC has given us far too many headaches – first the Boston Tea Party and the loss of America, and now this? Just a few years ago, we scrapped the EIC’s monopoly on opium. Look, Your Majesty – I can go further and abrogate all their monopolies in the Far East, and forbid them from trading in ice. That would free up the market for Bjorgman House in a far more valuable way than any one-off compensation, wouldn’t it?”
I nodded. “Go on…”
“It also lets our other trading houses to grow and out-compete the EIC into extinction. We believe in free and vigorous trade, and mutual benefit.”
I hope I did the right thing, but I shook his hand after a bit more back-and-forth. I had a quick meeting with Kristoff and General Mattias before walking back in and agreeing to his offer. The AG got the exclusive: that after more than a week of wrangling, we’d finally brought some closure to this matter. I had to admit, I was shaking inside. I didn’t want Palmerston to leave with a mind to prepare an invasion. I’d fight to the death in any war, but we’d little chance against the British – at least, not without my grand alliance. Which is coming along, slowly but surely, thanks to Honeymaren.
I saw Palmerston off at the palace courtyard. As I was waving goodbye, he tipped his English tophat to me, tapping his cane on the ground, and said, “I’m duty-bound to inform you that your little tussle with the East India Company – and me – has caught the eye of Her Majesty herself.”
I raised my eyebrow. “You mean the sovereign you represent?”
“The woman whose dominion covers a quarter of this planet,” he replied. “She wrote to me personally, and I quote from her letter: I’ve never heard of this Anna or Kingdom of Arendelle before. Now I know. I should like to meet her, she whose territory is no bigger than Portsmouth, yet who has managed to make a fool of our East India Company and parlay with us as an equal.”
Palmerston grimaced. “You’re impressive, Anna of Arendelle. I’m known for my hawkish position, but this time you’ve talked good sense. I’m a good sport: Arendelle might even be a friend to Great Britain. But in your understandable desire to stand up to us, you now face the iron will of my queen, Victoria.”
I stared at his retreating back, churning over what he had said in my head.
I hope I know what I’ve gotten myself into, dear reader. Something tells me that Victoria is one strong, strong woman. A true queen, like what I want to be.
Will I have the strength to face her?
Signing off, with a pounding heart, your friend and servant.