The following conversation takes place inside some royal toilets at Westminster Abbey, London. Actually I’ve already messed up setting the mood, so please allow me to start again: these aren’t just any Royal toilets. These are the Royal toilets. A place where only the most Royal of Royal go to drop their kecks.
William is nervous. Really nervous. For today is the day when history will be made — William and Kate becoming husband and wife. On the TV, presenters are saying things like “the language of flowers” and this? It just makes William even worse. Hence, why he’s now sitting in the toilet. This is his second visit since arriving in his bullet-proof car to the screaming sound of adoring fans.
“And all this get-up just makes it ten times worse! What does it all mean?” William says, looking down at his fancy suit, adorned with medals and red bits and gold bits and stripes and a “gold sash and star”. None of it makes any sense. On the TV they say this is because he is some kind of Duke, and because he has become “qualified”. The problem is…Will was out partying hard and getting jiggy with some private dancers when they did vocabulary. Now it’s all coming back to get him, most of it into the toilet…
“Oh,” he mutters, reaching for the toilet paper, “I feel like an ape from The Planet of The Apes.” And he looks to the gold-plated ceiling thoughtfully, tilting his head in such a way that the draft coming under the door does not dislodge the twenty-siz hairs on his head. “An ape set upon by the other apes. An ape with its hair pulled out.”
The toilet paper isn’t there. It was there, Wills was sure of it, but it isn’t now. “Holy Royal foul-up!” he says, “and inside him, deep within him, Prince Phillip’s burbling, mumbling genes are coming up his throat to haunt him in a series of “ah…ah…ah”.
What’s worse is that Prince William doesn’t know how to vent his frustration in the way that the “common people” do, that way which is really satisfying and made out of sharp four letter words. All his life he has been sheltered from these harsh demonic words, and now, just when he needs them, there are none to be found.
Then he sees a shadow under the door. It’s someone — someone Royal! — entering the WC and walking across the room to the heavily gold-plated sinks.
“Say, Royalest of men,” he says, crouching down as low as he can to direct this under the door. “Fancy being a good chap and being my saviour of sanitary sanity?”
Two foot-steps, then a horrible moment when Wills thinks this man, this saviour, won’t help him after all. Then a rush of foot-steps as the man’s shadow appears under the door. “Run out, have you?”
“I’m afraid I have dear chap. Jolly good you’re here, I say.”
“That’s a shame. I hate it when that happens.”
Wills breathes a sigh of relief. It’s all going to work out!
“So if you wouldn’t mind, old boy, I’m really rather desperate.”
“I wouldn’t mind. For three hundred I wouldn’t mind at all.”
Wills says this not in shock — well, maybe a bit of shock — but in pure raw ignorance mixed and moulded with supreme disgust for his own self and the stupid Royal tradition that has surrounded him since childhood. Three hundred what? Currency had never been something he needed to learn about before. And he hardly needed to learn about it now, with the mess he was in.
Wills pulls a packet of World’s most expensive gold leaf out of his pocket. It’s not a pocket, there’s a special name for it, but screw the special name for now. That’s the least of his worries. He’s got a ceremony to get to!
He pushes it under the door, hoping that the light will catch it right and the man will notice just how expensive and Royal it is, but all that happens is the shadow shakes and a terrible laughter echoes around the room.
“It’s worth more than what you earn in a day, I can assure you,” Wills says. “No offense, of course.”
“That’s not something I’d say to the man that’s holding all the toilet paper, future King of England, no offense or otherwise,” says this evil man, whoever he is. Wills notices now that the man has been disguising his voice from the very beginning in a bid to stay anonymous. Which is working perfectly…
“I do apologize. I sincerely do.”
“So, three hundred, like I said. And that’s three hundred pounds. Not sodding gold leaf.”
Wills is close now, he can almost remember the name for English money…it’s right there, it’s–
“Sterling,” says the man, through his mask of evil. “You know, that stuff that common people use to buy things?”
Wills thinks extremely hard and he remembers. It’s not good though. It just makes him feel sick and the urgency of this terrible situation is all too clear again: in 5 minutes he NEEDS to be attending the biggest ceremony of the last 50 years…
“Now,” says the man, loving all this.
“Indeed, yes sir.” Wills searches in his…big pocket things, whatever the hell it’s called, and locates a wad of this “Sterling” business. He hasn’t touched it since 1992 when there was a special “Commoners novelty party”, and the feel of it on his hands makes him feel disgraceful. He thrusts the notes under the toilet door and there’s the sound of the man leafing through the notes and then:
“That’s only two eighty.”
“Two eighty. I said three hundred.”
Wills was never any good at maths. He knows that two-eighty is somewhat close to three-hundred, but that’s as much as he knows. Does this Royal suit of meaninglessnessness — what is the right word for something that has no meaning?! — have a calculator built into its skin? He bloody hopes so.
As Wills looks up at the ceiling, towards hope, towards the light, the man walks away. He doesn’t even gloat as he walks out of the door. It opens and shuts in one movement with a slight squeak.
Two minutes remain until the biggest service of Will’s life.
And that’s when he makes the decision. It had been there at the back of his mind all the time, he just didn’t want to admit that it had come to this. But now it has, and there’s no getting away from this fact. It’s Ground Zero. Whatever that means. He’d heard those words before but now is not the time to think about that.
So he stands up and takes the yellowy gold hanging material thing — the thing which the Queen had said, just the week before, cost more than most Commoners’ council houses, whatever they were — and…