By HM Queen Anna
Her Majesty’s personal column is published exclusively by The AG.
When she visited the palace last weekend, Elsa told me that she’d decided to reconstitute her former “Order of Rime.” You can imagine my excitement at this, so I sent a press release about this to The AG. But even this paper’s journalists, some of who interview me all the time, asked me: “What in the spirits are you talking about?” What was the Order of Rime? Was Elsa suddenly assembling some league of extraordinary gentlemen?
Fair enough – I was too excited and maybe you aren’t sure what I’m yammering on about either. So I thought I’d use my column today to explain myself.
I’m not here to write a history of our kingdom’s knightly honours, but suffice to say that in Viking times, way, way before Arendelle was even called Arendelle, the top jarl would be protected by a kind of comitatus: elite berserkers or lords who would share everything with their commander and commit ritual suicide if he died.
Obviously, this tradition fell out of fashion once nobles got comfortable living in big halls and castles!
Over the centuries this comitatus evolved into chivalric orders, given to aristocrats who had done some kind of important service to a royal. When I was born, there was already a tradition of each member of our family having their own order. Elsa’s was called the Order of Rime. It was formed shortly after the Great Thawing, and some of our most prominent citizens were initiated into its membership, sworn to protect the queen. She dissolved the order after she abdicated and crowned me your servant-queen.
But now, Elsa seems to be bringing back her old gang. What she told me was that she wants it to be a much looser and freer order – “Companions,” she calls it. They won’t be bound by any vows except one, which is to help her protect Northuldra’s fragile ecosystem and pristine natural environment. Kind of like a warden or sheriff, I guess, but for nature. These Companions obviously would have to be on good terms with Yelena’s tribe, too. Anyone can join, Elsa emphasised to me. I like that.
That reminds me: I should get around to sending Elsa’s open appeal to The AG’s evening edition. It’s inspired me to make a few changes too.
My own knightly order was called the Order of the Autumn Leaf. But after our Northuldran adventure and my coronation, I think it’s the right time to change its name to reflect the first year of my reign as well as the more egalitarian approach Elsa and I prefer.
My Order of the Wheat Stalk is now open to all people, not just people of aristocratic birth. I sincerely believe that this doesn’t cheapen anything: in fact, I can now choose members from a stronger pool of nominees. I don’t really care about personal loyalty. So the oath I want members to take is simply to protect the kingdom from the unprecedented challenges we face – from far larger nations with overseas empires, rapidly accelerating technology in steam and steel, ever more violent warfare…
The Order of the Wheat Stalk will always be kept at twelve members. As it happens, four new spaces were just filled up by friends whom I trust deeply, among them a Sir Alan and Sir Siegfried. But another two have opened thanks to their holders’ retirement.
My door is wide open. So… if that wasn’t a strong enough hint, dear reader: I hope you’ll consider submitting your name or someone else’s to my letterbox. The Order of the Wheat Stalk is the land’s highest honour. If you love Arendelle, which I’m sure you do, I’d love to see your name on my honours list. You even get a shiny badge!
Signing off, your friend and servant.