Blame of Thrones?

Since any observations I have about science fiction this week are more or less overshadowed in the UK by the Duke of Edinburgh’s passing, a fellow who’s been adjacent to the throne for as long as I have been alive, I figured I might as well throw my two pennies in as well.

I barely met the Duke once. In my first job, I was sent to a central London trade hall to act as a photographer. Given I’m not a trained photographer I wasn’t sure why I was asked. It transpired there was an Apple Computer stand with a couple of directors due to meet the Duke of Edinburgh on a whistle-stop tour of new inventions. Neither of the Apple brass wanted to not be in a selfie with the Duke, and this was a private invite-only event with the Duke pressing the flesh, sans Joe public. Never was a hall so well attended by high mucky-mucks, its stands manned solely by managing directors and chairmen.

I did not know any of this. I just wandered into the hall via a back entrance wondering why there were so many police with machine guns on patrol. I didn’t have a pass or much of a clue about anything. Nobody challenged me. Maybe because I was in a suit, and young, gormless, and harmless-looking? After roaming the back passages for a while, I discovered a curtain, pulled it, and found myself in the main hall. I located the Apple table, and got an old-style nondigital camera shoved into my clammy paws by a corporate titan just in time for the Duke to troll up, look interested, and shake hands while I was clicking away madly.

After Philip wandered off to talk to the next table after a few seconds, I thought to myself, you know, that bloke looks a lot like the fellow who is married to our Queen.

This was my sole 15-second-long brush with royalty (to date: I’m still hopeful about a knighthood – hint hint).

This was also long before our current heightened sensitivities concerning terrorism; but even so, given this was at the height of the IRA’s campaign, I’m surprised I wasn’t shot, or at least rugby tackled for blithely wandering into a high-security zone.

I only realized later that Philip held a deep interest in UFOs and was on the subscriber list of several printed UFOlogy publications. He also received regular briefings from the Royal Air Force on potential ET incursions into British airspace – most of which I suspect, were just American stealth tech, drones, and high altitude spy planes being field-tested on unsuspecting Brits.

Ah well. Thanks for not getting your bodyguards to shoot me, anyway, your Highness. Safe travels to whatever awaits on the other side of the rainbow bridge.

Your loyal and still mostly clueless servant.



I am an author of various fantasy, science fiction, crime and other genre books from Gollancz, Hachette and HarperCollins. Some day I hope to grow up and be an astronaut. Exploring Mars would be nice.

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