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Royal Privacy. Early morn Christmas- Xmas 1677


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Close by to the Banqueting House exists the Royal Chapel.


Seven broad stone steps lead up to the old building; grand arched double doors are wide open. Within, great vaulted wooden ceilings capture a great volume of air above the congregation - high above heavenly depictions look lovingly upon the mahogany pews. Candles flicker in sconces, the building itself is not overly well lit - behind the altar stained glass windows filter the light in a brilliance of colours.


It was several hours yet before Christmas service. Court was still mostly asleep.


Outside snow had a muffling effect on the yapping of dogs, hardly penetrating. Inside the chapel was nearly empty, though two red uniformed Life Guards were posted at the door, looking lively. Torches provided a little warmth but enough light in the early morning.


Another two gentlemen, dressed in excellence waited in silence trying to ignore the scene while sirreptiously glancing, while the periwigged aged figure near the altar was an unlikely candidate of religious observance. His boots were of most excellent quality, but the rest of his clothing showed signs of careless wear and tear. Yet, all granted him the privacy by keeping their distance. All but one gentleman, also of some age, though looking sauve, attended, speaking in soft tones to his royal companion, who nodded on occassion with a sardonic smile on his lips, dark brown eyes keeping their own council.


A rare moment of spirituality at the royal court, but perhaps Christmas morn warranted it. Or something else was afoot.

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  • 3 weeks later...

One of the two Life Guards posted at the door was rather more senior than was usual for those around the King at this time of day. After the threat of poisoning during the last court season, Douglas had made a rare act of prayer himself that, when court returned for Christmas, the King would return with it. Perhaps the wording wasn't something worth committing to record, but it was the thought that counted.


Despite his late arrival he'd slept poorly and risen early, a worry gnawing at him that would not be assuaged until he saw the King with his own eyes. In full uniform with a heavy red wool cloak to keep out the chill, Douglas had relieved one of the Troopers now on early Monarch-minding duty, and taking his place in the King's morning escort.


Which had not led to a stroll around the grounds as was the King's wont. Rather, unexpectedly, they found themselves here in the Chapel, His Majesty dressed in the manner that many thought of as 'Old Rowley', apparently knelt in prayer.


What might the King pray for? Douglas couldn't help but wonder. The Queen's pregnancy? Was the Queen pregnant? Had she ever been pregnant? If so, was she still? Or might he pray that she would become so? Perhaps he prayed that York and Monmouth would grow some sense each and leave off both each other and him. Perhaps that France would settle, or the Catholic-bashing would stop. Or perhaps that the Catholics would all leave for France.


Or perhaps he didn't pray at all. Perhaps this was simply a front for something else entirely. He wasn't exactly alone.


With a soldier's practiced ease Douglas stood with his weight square, gaze on the middle distance, aware for any sounds or movements in his peripheral vision that might indicate some threat. He'd done much with the Life Guard, but he still didn't trust most as much as himself, and England could not manage the fallout of the loss of her King.


There was more that he could do. Possibly starting with young Ogle. There was a man in need of some guidance if ever he saw one.

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Who could tell what the King's motives were? Certainly he stayed close to his grace the Duke of Buckingham, but their whispered words never carried. From their expressions Douglas could judge them to be happy.. mischievious perhaps, up to something. York had been likewise pleased these past months, though possibly for different reasons. His prowess at having fathered both an heir on his wife and a bastard on his favourite mistress had the tongues wagging, yet he never mentioned either fact. The prince was not presented at the chapel, possibly praying in the small Catholic chapel, or finding other occupations.


For sure having the King early at prayer was a novelty, most of the times he fell asleep during sermons, so whether honestly motivated to religious thought, or at another mission, his majesty knew this would cause whispers. Whispers that likely ran around the fact whether or not the Queen was pregnant.


There didn't appear to be a very sober mood to the two primary gentlemen of the realm. They were too experienced to snicker, but it almost seemed like they might.


Time dragged on, till finally the King rose, and made his way out, more energetic than he had been in mouths. The Duke of Buckingham followed closely behind.

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Was the King praying? He and Buckingham looked awfully pleased about something, almost as though they were up to no good. Were the old rascals planning some mischief? Was this simply a convenient place to plot? Or was there some good news on the way? Might it actually be true that the Queen was pregnant?


Or was the whole point of the visit to stir speculation and start tongues wagging. Might it even be a distraction from some more important issue? The question of France and the Catholics had not in any way dimished; perhaps the King sought to draw attention away from it with the speculation over a possible heir.


Of course, Douglas had no way of knowing what the King was doing in the Chapel, he was simply passing time by speculating, a common pastime amongst soldiers. At last the King rose to his feet and made his way from the Chapel, Buckingham behind him.


Douglas stepped out just before to check the way was clear, then fell into step with the pair, a little to the side.


“Intervenin’ on aw oor behalves, Yer Majesty?” He asked with a smile as the King set a quick pace. “Yer anticipatin' a lively season.”* He suggested.


As the head of the Anglican Church, the King could theoretically intercede with God for all of them, as the Pope did for the Catholics. Given the nature of court however, if the King sought to intercede with God on their behalves, he would likely be there for a very long time.



* “Intervening on our behalves, Your Majesty? You're anticipating a lively season.”

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Douglas would remember it had not always been the case these past years that Buckingham was so close to the King. Things had changed, brought back some old semblance of their boyhood relationship. Even though the King might still be weary of his childhood friend, he no longer seemed to keep him at quite such a distance. Had Buckingham triumphed? Or was it the rumours of an heir that had the monarch so self confident?


"A merry season," Charles Rex corrected his life guard officer "I expect this to be a very merry season Dundarg, because there is much to celebrate, for which we have said thanks to the Lord."


As they returned to the palace, the King dismissed his bodyguards, while he retreated into the Receiving Room with Buckingham, allowing no courtiers safe those of the first access to enter.

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Douglas's smile broadened as the King corrected him. "A merry season is ocht we weel aw be glad o'."* The Scotsman agreed, thinking that things had been far too dark of late. He would certainly look forward to some merriment.


By 'much to celebrate', the King surely meant that the rumours were true. Certainly it made sense, along with plans for merriment, for court knew the King had been curbing his merry tendencies in deference to his wife's desires and wish for a child. Surely it could only mean that she was indeed pregnant.


"I weel let Cat ken."** He promised the King. If it was a merry season he wanted, then it was courts' duty to see that he got one. No doubt His Majesty would be glad of some attention from her mistresses; the Queen didn't exactly look as though she was enthusiastic in the bedroom.


The King dismissed them, Douglas bowing as his monarch passed him through the doors to the Receiving Room, Buckingham on his heels. Douglas wondered vaguely who of the many would seek the King's indulgence today.



* "A merry season is something we will all be glad of."

** "I will let Cat know.

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The King did not react to Douglas' interpretation of foisting one of hte royal mistresses upon him. A mere smile, general as always, was the reply, kind brown eyes giving no judgement.


Many people were in waiting for the King to receive them, but all were ignored. It was just the King and Buckingham that entered the Receiving room and thus it stayed for a long while.

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