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Feather's Miscellany: Edward - Act 5, Scene 4

Here's the final scene in John Waddington-Feather's gripping and highly-readable play about the abdication of a British monarch.

To rerad earlier scenes please click on
http://www.openwriting.com/archives/feathers_miscellany/

Time: The evening of 11th December 1936
Place: The servants’ quarters at Buckingham Palace. James, the butler,
is chatting with Smith, the chauffer about the sudden abdication of the
King and the speeding up of Mrs Simpson’s divorce.

Smith: Blimee, things ‘ave moved fast this week, ain’t they?

James: To fast for us all, Smith. Ever since the Bishop of Bradford complained
about the King’s lack of church-going the papers have been full of him and
Mrs Simpson But who’d have thought it would have led to his Abdication
so quickly?

Smith: Never ‘eared of bloomin’ Bishop Blunt till the papers got hold of what ‘e said.
James: You know, Smith, have you realised that once he’s gone we’ll be out of a
job. Has the King said anything to you?

Smith: No, but why will we be out of a job, James?

James: Use your commonsense. Smith. A new broom always sweeps clean and
the new King will bring his own staff with him. It’s the way the Court works.

Smith: So what ‘appens to us?
James: I don’t know. We’ll just have to wait and see what’s on offer when the new
King comes.

Smith: I feel sorry for His Majesty. He’s looked down in the dumps all week.
Hardly said a word to me since Mrs Simpson went to France an’ left
’im ’ere. ‘As ‘e said to you where he’s goin’ to live?

James: He did mention Switzerland and living in an hotel there to start with, but
I hear he’s been offered a place in France, near Paris, where he’s going to live once he’s married.

Smith: ‘E can hardly stay on ‘ere once his brother is King, can he?

James: And with the divorce is being rushed through. it’s almost as if they want
him out double quick.

Smith: All a bit of a rushed job, ain’t it? Leastways, it’s not a shotgun wedding like
mine: and after all the women he’s carried on with, I’m only surprised he
ain’t had to get married before, but most of ‘em he carried on with
were married, so we’ll never know what ‘appened afterwards, will we?

James: We’ll have to stop calling him King now.

Smith: He’ll be a nobody once he leaves England.
James: Are you driving him to Portsmouth after his broadcast?

Smith: No. He don’t ‘ave a car no more. Another driver’s taking him there
straight from Windsor.

James: [Looking at his watch] He’s due to broadcast any time now, Smith. Turn on
the wireless quick. [Smith switches on a radio] Just in time.

Announcer’s voice: This is Windsor Castle. Ladies and gentlemen, His Royal Highness,
Prince Edward.

Edward: At long last I am able to say some words of my own. A few hours ago
I discharged my last duty as King and Emperor, and now that I have
been succeeded by my brother, the Duke of York, my first words must be
to declare my allegiance to him. This I do with all my heart.
You all know the reasons which have impelled me to renounce
the throne. But I want you to understand that in making up my mind, I did
not forget the country or the Empire, which for twenty five years I tried to
serve .But you must believe me when I tell you that I have found it
impossible to carry the heavy burden of responsibility and to discharge my duties as
King as I would wish to do, without the help and support of the woman I love.
And I want you to know that the decision I have made has
been mine and mine alone. The other person concerned has tried up to the last
to persuade me to take a different course, and I have made this, the most
serious decision of my life, upon a single thought of what would be best for all.
I now quit altogether public affairs, and I lay down my burden.
It may be some time before I return to my native land, but I shall always
follow the fortunes of the British race and Empire with profound interest, and
if at any time in the future I can be found of service to His Majesty in a
private capacity, I shall not fail.
And now we all have a new King. I wish him and you,
his people, happiness and prosperity with all my heart. God bless you all.
God save the King!

[Smith switches off the radio]

Smith: Well, that’s that, James. What d’yer make of it?

James: Sounded all right and proper, but we know different, don’t we? To tell you
the truth, Smith, I always had a sneaky feeling he never wanted to be King.
He liked the fast life too much; and especially his women.

Smith: My missus rumbled him from the start. She said he was a woman-fond
old bugger like old King Edward.

James: Now he’s gone we can speak more openly.

Smith. I can tell you now that when
we travelled abroad he tried to seduce every ambassador’s wife he could lay
his hands on.

Smith: I knew he liked his oats, but not that much. He never really grew up, did he?

James: Perhaps he’ll settle down once he weds Mrs Simpson.
She’ll watch him like a hawk.

Smith: They’re both of a kind, them two. But what’s to become of us, James?

James: We’ll be all right, Smith, with the connections we’ve made here in the Palace.
It isn’t everyone who works for a King and we’ll soon be taken up.

Smith: He’s given me a good reference, but I don’t fancy being at everyone’s beck
an’ call chauffeuring. Been at it too long an’ I’ve enough put by to open me
own garage in Putney. But what’ll you do, James?

James: Being butler to a King of Britain is a reference in itself. I’ll certainly have
no trouble picking up a job for there’ll always be some quick rich
millionaire who’ll take me on just to boast that he has a king’s butler looking
after him.

Smith: You’ll do well in America.

James: And that’s exactly where I intend to go. I like the Americans. They’re
a friendly lot. Yes, like you I need a change, Smith, and I’ll try my
luck there. So it’s goodbye, Smith, after all these years.

Smith: [Shaking hands] All the best, James. We’ll keep in touch. We’ve had some
good old yarns together, ain’t we, over the years? I wonder how our old boss
will make out in his new life?

James: Indeed. I wonder. Time alone will tell.

Curtain






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