By HM Queen Anna
I want to start this column by thanking my beloved Elsa for her tireless encouragement. She’s supported me in public through her column in this paper, and in private during my most vulnerable and fragile moments. I want to thank my inner court, my government, and all my friends. I want to thank my allies for sticking with my alliance, despite my recent humiliation at Harrison’s hands. I want to thank the Duke and Mari for being so kind to extend their apologies, which I don’t accept, because there’s nothing – zero, nada, zilch – to say sorry for. If you were ever captured again by Harrison, I’d gladly give up the rest of my trade rights with the Celestial Empire to save you.
I want to thank Peony Sinclair for easing the terms of the Treaty of Weselton with Harrison. I know I have a complicated relationship with the Exalted, and I know you were trying to protect me. And most of all, dear citizen, I want to thank you for your faith in me. I promise to do my very best as your most prominent public servant.
With some encouraging letters from my prime minister (who’s in London), and long nights spent in a huddle with Elsa, Maren, and Mattias, I’m ready to take on the world, even the Exalted.
Despite the loss of our preferential treatment in the China trade, my government’s new strategic approach will build on our kingdom’s strengths while helping our domestic objective to unify Northuldra and Arendelle. This is a mouthful, but here goes: realign, restructure, and recover.
Realign: To protect Arendelle’s prosperity, our kingdom’s economy must be fit for purpose. We nearly risked a collapse in bond values across multiple industries, thanks to Harrison! He funded Skau-Krogh’s reckless attacks on Bjorgman, the Princely House, and we’re lucky that the company’s unauthorized assaults on our allies Chatho and Weselton didn’t result in diplomatic fallout.
With Skau-Krogh now deeply in debt, abandoned by Harrison, and its investors begging Kristoff to take over, I’ve asked our big boys in trade – my beau, Uncle Michael, and the Persian businessman Nahir to negotiate a new deal between Kristoff and Skau-Krogh’s boss, Lars Krogh. I don’t expect Kristoff and Mr. Krogh to kiss and make up (although I’d pay to see that), but I want to see our largest companies contribute to our kingdom’s strength. This will go some way to making up for our lost trade privileges.
Restructure: A joint Arendellian-Weselton-Vesterland expedition to liberate Weselton from Mr. Krogh failed and resulted in the fiasco of Mari and the Duke’s capture. I don’t blame Weselton or Vesterland, but I blame myself for assuming nominal leadership of the Entente of Small Kingdoms and failing to protect my friends.
With Countess Vi’s encouragement, I’ll be proposing to the Great Assembly a new, urgent bill for expanded military reforms. The modernization program will be jointly overseen by General Mattias and Commander Hilde. I can already see the outraged headlines and hear the whispers in parliament, but I welcome debate and refinement of this policy. I trust Hilde as much as I trust Vi, despite their ancient clans’ involvement with dark and mysterious forces. This is Hilde’s opportunity to put her military past to better use than colonizing territory that our kingdoms in Europe have no legal right to.
Elsa and I are mindful that it’s a dangerous path that I’m treading. My promise to you is that I’ll never lose my moral compass in my endeavour to strengthen our army and navy.
Recover: I’m reinforcing our Entente of Small Kingdoms by expanding Arendelle’s diplomatic outreach. I’m going to appeal directly to His Imperial Highness and Miss Sinclair for advice and help. Arendelle, Chatho, and Vesterland will step up to jointly lead my Entente. By doing so we’ll protect each other, having one another’s backs when any of our alliance’s members are under pressure.
Arendelle can’t lead alone, and I don’t even see myself as first among equals. That’s not my honour to claim. Instead, the Entente needs to be a nimble force, ready for the darkness that is already casting a shadow over us all: Harrison’s fellow Exalted member, Princess Katina Romanov. In the face of Imperial Russia’s sheer vastness, the Entente’s members must band together like never before – well, no, it has been done before. That was during my sister’s reign, when Elsa and Colisa led their own alliance against Katina’s father, the tsar. We must match that sense of urgency.
My three-point plan is extremely ambitious, but it reflects the scope of Arendelle’s challenges. I look forward to parliament’s debates about it, and I urge our newspapers, our civic leaders, and our ministers to help me make it better.
I stumble toward the light – but no longer blindly, and with my hand holding yours.