Author Note: This was a writing group challenge to write a story with a fictional “what if” scenario about a historical time or event. I am enamored with history and the idea of alternate realities. In this incarnation, a time loop changes the scenario but protects the timeline. It’s interesting to consider how choices mold and alter events…
Surrounded by her loyal corgis following her every step, Lilibet walked along the rolling green and amber hills of her family’s Scotland estate looking for a buck. They’ve been tracking it for a week for a hunt later in the day.
The highland grounds of the Castle of Mey were her favorite place in the world. The early morning mists slightly levitating above the fields. The crisp smell of the heather waking up with dew. And the yellow sun gently rising from the horizon. It was a quiet and peaceful.
It was her twenty-first birthday and Lilibet’s mother, father, sister Margaret, and her new beau, Phillip, were all gathering for a family birthday breakfast before the hunting party arrived. They were all glad to be together once again for this momentous occasion.
The war years were difficult for everyone, especially the royal family. It was a roller coaster of uncertainty, pain and heartache for years. When it began, in her shelter of their tranquil estate, the blitzes in London seemed so far away. She felt for the poor families and worried for her father, who moved to London to help her uncle, the king, and the prime minister deal with the war. Luckily, for the worst of the Blitz her father was in Churchill’s underground bunker. When they heard a bomb hit Buckingham Palace, they were certain it was the end.
For many nights, Lilibet, Margaret and her mother laid awake listening to the solitary night crickets in the deafening silence of safety, wondering what would become of their country and the world, while feeling helpless in the turmoil.
After the bombing ceased, her father and Churchhill worked together with the Allies to defeat Hilter, but her uncle, the king, was terribly shaken. The shell that hit the palace convinced him failure was the only possible result and he retreated into a debilitating melancholy state. He even dispatched Queen Wallis to Switzerland for her safety.
Churchhill didn’t trust the king or the queen, so he had agents watching them and his suspicions were right. The agents found the queen engaged in seemingly innocent parties and meetings with people who knew people the Nazi hierarchy. When they infiltrated from the inside, they uncovered the queen was trying to forge a secret treaty to spare England in exchange for information on the Allied plans.
Luckily they were able to intercept and squash the dastardly alliance in its infancy. The queen was escorted back to England under close supervision and she and the king stayed under house arrest in Windsor Castle for the remainder of the war to avoid any further unseemly conduct.
Once Hitler was defeated, her uncle was forced by Churchill and Parliament to abdicate, claiming health reasons, but only a few knew of their deep deception. Now with her father as king and her mother as queen, they faced the task of rebuilding the country and building the people’s faith.
Lilibet shuddered just thinking of what could have happened. She was disappointed and ashamed of her uncle’s cowardice, but proud of her father and his steadfast resolve to serve the people. The sacrifice of her father and mother resonated with her and inspired her to spend her life in service of the United Kingdom for the day she would be queen.
Walking back to the house, Lilibet and the dogs strode through the maze of the proper English gardens to admire the beautiful blooms her mother planted. Her mother Elizabeth doted for hours year after year to sculpt it to perfection. She paused to consider the dedication required to create and keep something so wonderful.
For now, her path was clear. She looked forward to minimal royal duties and a happy life in their serene Scottish home. Maybe one day she would be the proud Navy wife of her first love and raise a bunch of children, along with her dogs and horses. Maybe she’d become a horsewoman owning a stable of wonderful prize steeds. She always had an eye for a good horse and loved to care for them.
Eventually, she would learn the family business beside her father. But with the worst behind them, she felt content with her glorious future and ready for what it would bring.
(c) Suzanne Rudd Hamilton 2022