The Queens’ Tale, by Fiona Skepper

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Mary, Marie Anne & Anne


I’m trying to understand how it all came to be.
I was Queen. Let me go back to the beginning.


M:
I was born in a Scottish Palace.

M.A: I was born in an Austrian Palace.

A: I was born in England, they are not sure just where or when.

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M: My father was a king.

M.A: My father was an emperor.

A: My father was a diplomat.

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M: I was beautiful.

M.A: I was beautiful.

A: I had appeal.

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M: I was taught to fear God, play music, speak French and all the other expected accomplishments of a queen.

M.A: By ten I still could barely write in my own language, but could play the harp beautifully.

A: I was taught a humanistic curriculum, French and other unexpected accomplishments for a politician’s daughter.

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I was of value to my family along with other assets.  

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M: I was sent to France at the age five to be its Queen.

M.A I was sent to France at the age fifteen to be its Queen.

A: I was sent to France at the age thirteen, they think, to serve its Queen.

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M: I never asked for the crown.

M.A: I never asked for the crown.

A: I did everything I could to get the crown.

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M: The people loved me at first.

M.A: Most of the people loved me at first.

A: The people hated me from the first.

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M: I loved all three of my husbands, I think, at some time

M.A: I loved my husband, I’m sure I did.

A: I loved my husband, I made sure I did.

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I did what I thought was best for my country and God

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Anne, Mary, & Marie Anne

A: I had one child who became Queen of my country.

M:     I had one child who became King of my country and another.

M.A: I had four children, one who became king, reigning in a cage.

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A:    I lost a child in my womb.

M:   I lost twins in my womb.

M.A: I lost a child in my womb, and two who came from it.

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A: My husband loved me, at first.

M: At least one of my husbands loved me.

M.A: My husband loved me, to his death.

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A: I was taken away and never saw my daughter again.

M: I ran away and never saw my son again.

M.A: They took my son away and I never saw him again. Then I was taken away and my daughter too, was lost.

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My child was taught not to miss me.

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A: I was accused of desiring my husband’s death. I was not guilty.

M: I was accused of causing my husband’s death. I pled not guilty.

M.A: I was accused of desiring my peoples’ death. I did what I had to.

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I was derided as a harlot, lying in a rapacious and lustful bed.

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A:   My husband was strong and it did me no good.

M.A: My husband was weak and it did me no good.

M: Two weak, one strong, but it did not do me any good.

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A: I wore a dress of dark grey to the scaffold, with an underdress of red.

M: I wore an underdress of bright scarlet to the block, the colour of martyrs.

M.A: I wore a rough cotton smock of white to the scaffold. They tied my hands behind my back and the ropes bit.

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A: I walked to the place of my death from the tower into the open air.

M: I walked to the place of my death from my chamber to the Castle’s great hall.

M.A: I went to death riding in an open cart to the square and those who saw me   cursed at me and threw things.

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A: Invitations to my death were restricted to a select group who discovered the gates open.

M: Invitations to my death were restricted to a select but large group.

M.A: My death was an open invitation to anyone in the city who could squeeze in to the Place de la Revolution.

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A: I was blindfolded.

M: I was blindfolded.

M.A: I had a view of the bloodstained basket.

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A: The sword was very sharp, praise God.

M.A: The blade was very sharp, praise God.

M: The axe was blunt and I stopped praising God.

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My husband was not there.

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A: My husband was busy hunting and planning his next wedding.

M: My husband had died in gaol before me, going mad.

M.A: My husband had met the blade before me, his speech cut short.

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A: They took the two parts of my body and placed them in an arrow box and buried me in the church of St Peter in Chains, under the floor’s blank stones. I was mixed with others, and it became hard to tell us apart. When my daughter was Queen she chose not to disturb me. When Victoria was Queen she put a name on my grave for the tourists.

M: They took the two parts of my body and buried me in a country cathedral. They dug out my insides and burned them secretly in the Castle’s fire. When my son was King he dug me up and placed me in a tomb with a name in Westminster, next to the Queen who had ordered me to be halved. The tourists come often.

M.A: They took the two parts of my body and threw them into a grave under a cemetery’s blank earth, covering me in quicklime hoping I’d disappear. When the Kings came back they dug me up and buried me in a grand tomb with a name, in the Abbey church of Saint Dennis, next to my halved husband. Not so many tourists come. It’s not on the regular route.

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People still argue today that they know me, that they know how to read my soul.

How did this all come to be? I’m not sure. I was Queen. Let me go back to the beginning.


Fiona Skepper is a criminal lawyer in Melbourne Australia. She’s been writing short stories and travel articles for several years. She’s published in Queen of Crime Anthology, That’s Life, The Age, Qantas Inflight and the Jane Austen Anthology 2015, Beguiling Miss Bennet. She’s had stories in various competitions – The Best of Times short story 2013 (1st) Banjo Patterson short story 2011 (2nd). She’s currently looking for a publisher for a novella.

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