The Princess: The Young Royals 3
“She’s so mean!” Princess Margaret said to her big sister, who looked up from the array of morning newspapers on the table and frowned.
Margaret pointed to a photograph on one front page showing their cousin Victoria alighting from a car, wearing an audaciously low-cut evening dress, and then a photograph of Margaret alongside, underneath a headline stating that they were “royal twins.”
“How dare she wear the same dress as me to that dinner,” Margaret continued. “It’s your fault, Alix – you let her go in that carriage with you to David’s wedding and she’s been impossible ever since. She thinks she’s more popular than you and me and David combined.”
“It wasn’t my idea about the carriage,” said Alix, amusement evident on her face. “It was David’s. As I recall, I wasn’t keen. And I don’t remember you objecting to it.”
“Well, I didn’t know that little Vicky would turn out to be such an attention hog!” Margaret made a sort-of splutter and folded her arms. “She keeps turning up at this, that and the other. Now she’s seeing that terrible actor fellow.”
“Oh, he’s terrible, is he?” Alix went back to her newspapers.
“All actors are,” Margaret said firmly.
“And why is that?”
“They pretend for a living!” Margaret put her hands on her hips. “They’re fakes!”
Alix looked at her sister again. “And you and I have never pretended for a living? We’ve never once gone somewhere we didn’t want to go and met people we didn’t want to meet and smiled sweetly throughout? Isn’t that acting?”
Margaret’s nostrils flared. “That’s just our job.”
Nodding once, Alix went back to her papers. “Uh-huh.”
“We don’t have a choice!”
“It’s about choice now, is it?”
“Stop trying to confuse me with your intellectual arguments,” Margaret huffed.
“And stop pretending you don’t understand them.” Alix smiled at her sister. “You just want everyone to agree with you, and it’s not the same thing at all.”
Stomping over to an armchair, Margaret sat down heavily. She hated – as she so often did – her older sister’s habit of trying to reason her way through things. Emotion was so much more fun; Margaret was used to making decisions according to her feelings rather than her thoughts, and Alix was the opposite, and although it hadn’t caused much argument recently, it remained their fundamental difference. She loved Alix, though. It was very hard not to. Alix was calm and loyal and steadfast, and she could be so kind, too. All the qualities that Margaret knew she was probably meant to cultivate in herself but as Alix had them in spades, she never saw the need.
“Well, you wouldn’t know what it’s like,” Margaret said. “Everyone automatically agrees with you.”
“And what makes you think I’m not aware that’s what they’re doing? It doesn’t mean I think I’m right about everything.”
“You’re given the benefit of the doubt, though.”
“One of the many perks of being Queen.” Alix squinted as she smiled, keeping her lips pressed together.
“Where are my perks?”
“God, Margaret, grow up.”
“I’m serious, Alexandra!” She folded her arms and slumped down in the chair. “Honestly, what perks do I have?”
“Apart from not working more than about ten days a year and spending the rest of your time on tropical islands or ski slopes or country estates, wearing beautiful dresses and having your hair blowdried every ten seconds?” Alix cracked the paper so loudly it sounded like a whip. “I can’t imagine.”
“Now you’re just being ridiculous.”
Alix turned her head slowly toward her sister and stared at her. “Yes, Margaret, I am the ridiculous one.” Then she once more looked at the newspapers.
Margaret made a face. “Where’s Stuart?”
“You two and your fitness.”
“Mmm, a terrible thing, isn’t it?”
“It’s a waste of time. You could be relaxing.”
“It is relaxing. You should try it.”
“No, thank you.” Suddenly Margaret was on her feet. “I’m off.”
“Okay.” Alix glanced up briefly. “Where to?”
“Do you have to sound so judgmental about everything?”
“I can’t help it if you want to infer judgment from two short words, Margaret. It’s your decision to do so.”
“Just because you’re the Queen doesn’t mean you get the last word about everything.” Margaret knew that Alix hated her job – her life – being invoked as a rationale for anything, but Margaret could rarely resist baiting her.
“You know it has absolutely nothing to do with that and everything to do with being your sister. Your older sister. You have no idea what it was like trying to manage you when you were a child. I had to get the last word. You had to be reined in. Not that you are any more.”
“I broke free,” Margaret said, fluttering her hands over her head. “And now look at me.”
“Won’t Hal be waiting for you?” Alix said tersely.
“Are you kicking me out?”
“You said you were leaving.” Alix stood up. “Don’t be mad.” She kissed Margaret once on each cheek. “I just love you and I don’t want you to waste more time having holidays when you could be doing wonderful things for people.”
Margaret’s brow furrowed. “I believe you’re thinking about Caitlin.”
“Doing wonderful things. She’s the golden child now. She and David are practically running the country.”
Alix gave an exaggerated sigh. “Margaret, for goodness’ sake, you can’t absent yourself from public life almost entirely and then get jealous that our brother and his wife are more popular with the public. Make up your mind about what you want.”
Margaret put her hands on her hips, feeling indignant even though she knew she didn’t have much reason to be. “Or what?”
Alix put a hand on her arm. “Or you’ll be in this stasis forever, but David and I will have less and less time for it.”
As Margaret’s chin started to quiver, Alix kissed her again quickly. “Go to Hal. I’ll see you on the weekend, yes?”
Without waiting for an answer, Alix sat down again to her newspapers and didn’t look up as Margaret went to the door.