A Bard for Highgrove

A Bard for HighgroveWhen the Prince of Wales takes it into his head to appoint a Household Bard he hasn’t reckoned on the delectable but subversive Cerys Gifford Huws, fine poet in the strict metres and staunch Nationalist, who tries to teach him Welsh and encourages him to make his Principate more truly reflective of the country from which he takes his title. Under her influence, not only does he introduce Highgrove and Floomerwormwood, his little place down in Wales, to all things Welsh but insists on innovations like bilingual road-signs in England, Welsh on the school syllabus and in the law-courts, a Welsh page in all the Sunday papers, and much else besides. ‘Do remember,’ he says, ‘English was thrust upon the Welsh for centuries and they didn’t complain.’ But eventually the English Establishment reacts against ‘the Welsh Prince’ and the monarchy falls into disrepute.

By 2020, the Yookay having broken up after Scotland’s secession, Cymru is an Autonomous Republic within the Celtic Confederation and ruled by a permanent green-red coalition. Charles has renounced his title and his claim to the throne, and gone to live quietly at Gregynog, where he has found contentment at last and no longer fidgets with his cuff-links. At the last, with the death of his mother at the age of 91, and William’s succession, the Windsors troop out on to the balcony of
Buckingham Palace and in a scene reminiscent of the Winter Palace in 1917, the sound of gunfire is heard echoing down the Mall. And all this happens because of a Welsh poet . . .

This novella, at once provocative and percipient, but never bland, is partly a critique of the institution of monarchy and partly a satire on the culture and politics of contemporary Wales. Laying no claim to ‘literary merit’ (the bane of so much of what is published in Wales nowadays), but elegantly written, it will make some readers grin and get up the noses of others, in about equal measure.

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