If the Queen gets cross with someone, dad, can she just cut off their head?” “I don’t think the Queen’s ever actually cut off anyone’s head Noel.”

“So does she have someone to do it for her? Like soldiers? And then she can watch. And laugh at them. And not get loads of blood all over her crown.”


I look up from my newspaper.

“Well, no. It doesn’t work like that Noel. The Queen, she, well, she doesn’t have the power to cut off someone’s head.”

“Why not? If she’s the Queen she can do anything she wants.”

“Not really. Not anymore. Anyway, perhaps she doesn’t want to cut off anyone’s head.”

“But that’s just boring dad. If I was the Queen I’d want to chop off someone’s head.”

“Well, perhaps that’s why you’re not the Queen, Noel.”

“And Mr Donnelly, he told us the King in the olden days, the fat one with the beard, he used to throw chickens over his shoulder and sing when he was watching his wives having their heads chopped off. He even had sixteen wives, just so he could chop off their heads every week.”

“Six wives I think you mean Noel.”

“No. Mr Donelley said sixteen. Sixteen wives.”

“Sixteen? That is a lot of wives. Especially if you chop off all of their heads.”

I return to my newspaper. Noel returns to his castle and knights. For a moment.

“Anyway, isn’t it only the King and Queen who can chop off someone’s head? If you were eating chicken and throwing it over your shoulder and drinking lots of beer you couldn’t chop off mummy’s head could you dad?”

“No, I don’t think that’d be looked upon terribly kindly Sir Noel.”

“But if mummy…”

“Noel. Please. I’m trying to read the newspaper.”