Your Imperial Highness, Prince Regent Yixin:
Good health to you, and thank you so much for your long and nuanced letter from a couple of months ago. You must have written it fairly quickly after I appointed Countess Vi my prime minister.
Your rebuke was restrained, but I felt your irritation. I could almost close my eyes and see your hand trembling in patrician fury while writing the words. I’ve earned not just your ire, but also the anger of the rulers and power-brokers in your circle. It’s the first time I’ve openly disobeyed a request from you, after all.
I didn’t want to. I take your wishes so seriously that they might as well be orders.
But waging war on Vi was one order too far. You were asking me to plunge my kingdom into civil war, given the strength of the Mundilfari clan’s armies. No responsible monarch can do that to her own kingdom. I had to insulate her from your wrath.
Yet I was acutely aware of the offence she’d caused you by sending Hilde Von Altheim and her private army to attack the Southern Isles, and I would never dream of war with you.
By making her my prime minister, I gained control over her extralegal foreign policy, which I couldn’t do if we’d just went at each other’s throats. I stopped her from moving against you and any of your allies by changing my government’s constitution!
I hope you’ll find it easier to forgive me by remembering this bold move I made to preserve our friendship. Please understand, my Lord, that from one sovereign to another, I moved to take action in ways we both could benefit from.
I’ve never forgotten the debt our kingdom has owed to the Great Qing Empire since 1731, when our merchants first began sailing from our dockyards to Canton for Chinese porcelain, tea, and silk. Our ships have made over 130 trips to Canton since that year, generation after generation. Not all of our voyages to China were successful, and there were plenty of tragedies and lives lost due to sea wrecks, storms, and disease. We persevered. And to me, it has always been worth it!
Thanks to the Qing emperors, we got a head start compared to many nations in Europe, despite our small size. Arendelle’s wealth and strong foundation in trade is thanks to those early days. Your forebears knew my own predecessors, and let Arendellian traders set up shop in China with a single request in return: to have a true friend in our royal family. My father, King Agnarr, always regaled my sister and I with our bilateral obligation, and we’ve taken it to heart. I hope it shows.
I also swear to you, on my honour and that of my kingdom – that although my fiancé, Kristoff, has his branch of Bjorgman ice products on the island of Hong Kong, Arendelle will never, ever participate in the opium trade. In fact, Kristoff’s branch doubles as your listening outpost for British movements in Asia.
I remain confident in my value to you despite what some in your circle might say about me.
You had faith in Elsa when she was queen. Let me show you what I can do as your friend in Europe.
You won’t be disappointed.
Your loyal student,