The Crown (La Corona)

‘Are you still wearing the crown? …Or does the crown wear you?’


The legend, if you choose to believe such folklore, tells of my ancestor, Tamerathen the First, wandering into a cave at low tide. For once in his life, except for when he was using the chamberpot, he was truly alone. No queen, no guards, no loyal followers. Alone with only his thoughts to keep him company.

The thoughts were not good ones. The country was being torn apart by civil unrest in the eastern region, drought and famine in the west, and something equally miserable in the south which I always struggle to recall. To the north, the sovereign of the neighbouring land was eyeing the border with greed in his eyes, seeing only weakness beyond.

Tamerathen’s rule was failing. Though he was true and just and good (of course), a series of misfortunes had stamped over everything wearing hobnail boots, until his country lay in ruins through absolutely no fault of his own. This is always stressed. Things happen that are even beyond the control of a king. Note well, commoners. It’s not always the king’s fault. In fact, it’s mostly your fault.

Well, at least it was a beautiful day, blessed with sunshine and pale turquoise seas. The white-tipped waves tumbled up the beach, reached the cave, and scampered back again, whispering playfully against the fine shingle. The seagull calls sounded like laughter as they caught the strong breeze from the cliff above and rode it joyously in daredevil spirals. (My nursemaid added this part to her bedtime story version, and I like to keep it in.)

We do not know why the king went into the cave. Was he hiding? Seeking solitude? Was he meeting a lover? Or an envoy of his neighbour to negotiate a transfer of power? Was he fed up of being a king? I once asked my nursemaid and she told me it was better not to know. I disagreed with her. It’s always better to know.

So the king entered the cave (for reasons we’ll never know) and there, lying wedged between two rocks near the entrance, was a thing of great beauty. Tamerathen’s destiny, and saviour of the kingdom. A grey circle of something that looked like metal but felt more like a well-kneaded bread dough, studded with glistening sapphire and emerald eyes, the sheen of majesty upon it.

At this point in the tale, I usually feel the need to stifle a snigger. A ‘sheen of majesty’? There is no such thing. They are just meaningless words.

The king knelt down in reverence before it. He knew, in every chamber of his heart, that this was meant for him. A gift from the Gods. A treasure carried down by all the angels of heaven only for him to find. I wonder what would have happened if someone else had found it. A manservant. A disgruntled fisherman. Or even worse, a female. God forbid!

For some reason, and this is where the legend loses me as a listener, he felt the need to place the thing of beauty upon his head right then and there. This strange object he found in a cave, glistening with a sheen of majesty. There was no hesitation. No curious examination first, passing from hand to hand. No. He put it straight onto his flaxen-haired head and sat back on his haunches.

Suddenly, with an intense flash of illumination, Tamerathen became aware of all the hopes and dreams of his subjects. He knew their fears. He knew the things they loved and the things they hated. He knew what made them tick.

He hardly noticed that the crown had begun to breathe.

To breathe?

Yes. To breathe.

Inspired by a song by ‘I Am Giant’ called ‘Electric Throne’

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Photo Credit: ‘Mike’ (Unsplash)


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