By E Walk

(Copyrighted by the author)

Edited by Will B.

Chapter 36 - An Afternoon With the Prince

This is Ben.

We were getting dressed for our lunch with the Queen. Both Grant and I were wondering what we should wear when Brian knocked on the door. When he came in, he was dressed in what he had worn to church on Sunday, "Guys do I look okay? I thought I would take some jeans and other things along for when I get my horsemanship lesson."

I looked at Brian, "I thought we were going to go casual."

Brian scoffed, "This is casual compared to the undertaker suits with the stiff collars we were wearing for the awards presentation. I don't think Uncle Hank and Uncle Rod would like us to be any less casual for a lunch at Buckingham Palace. They are already upset with me for the way I acted this morning."

Brian sat on the bed while Grant and I dressed and packed a small bag with other clothes. I looked at Brian, "I think we should probably have warned the ladies of what we were doing."

Brian stood, "Well, send them some of those subliminal messages, so they know what we are doing and don't forget Vicky."

Brian left and Grant and I started to send our thought waves to the three young ladies. We didn't know if it would work, but we would find out later that it did. When Grant and I went to the first floor, everyone was sitting around and it seemed almost like a morgue.

Brian finally had enough, "Okay everybody, what did I do that was so bad? Her Majesty couldn't have been too offended, or she would never have invited us to lunch. She could very well have said, `I want nothing more to do with these people from the States.' Now would everyone relax. I'm sorry if I have upset you, but I am who I am."

Brian walked away from everyone and started talking to Aunt Bea. I was watching everyone and they seemed as if they were in a state of shock. Fortunately Rafael arrived with the Spanish Embassy's bus, "Next stop, Buckingham Palace. Everyone else will be meeting us there."

I went and retrieved Brian and we loaded the bus. It was just the eight of us from Uncle Hank and Uncle Rod's house, plus Rafael."

Brian looked around, "Where is everyone else? Isn't anyone else going?"

Rafael calmly explained, "Brian, no one would ever miss this opportunity to have a meal at Buckingham Palace with the Queen. This is not something that Her Majesty does everyday. Now get your butt on the bus."

I looked around at the assembled group and Shamus, Jaime and Matthew looked like they were still in a state of shock. I took the liberty of asking, "Uncle Hank and Uncle Rod, have you ever been to lunch with the Queen before?"

Uncle Rod answered for the two of them, "We have had meals where the Queen was in attendance, but they were always formal occasions. We certainly have never been to Buckingham Palace for lunch."

Brian didn't miss that opening, "Now, do you suppose that you all can not embarrass us Yanks while we are there? Remember, Her Majesty invited us, so you better be on your best behavior."

When we arrived at the Palace, Rafael took us to the guest entrance which was away from public view. He showed the guards some papers and we were waved through the gate. We were met at the entrance by a handsome young man who escorted us into the Palace. He announced, "Master Brian Benson and his party have arrived, Your Majesty."

That announcement got everyone's attention. I was sure that Uncle Hank and Uncle Rod would be frowning, but instead, they were having a difficult time to keep from laughing.

Her Majesty the Queen came forward and held out her hand and Brian held it and bowed his head, "Your Majesty, I believe you know my brother, Benjamin, and his college roommate, Grant Garrison. You have already met the rest of our party. I want to thank you for inviting us to lunch. Uncle Hank and Uncle Rod were going to put us into the back lawn so we could cut the grass for our lunch. It will be nice to have some food other than greens for lunch."

The Queen was laughing, "Master Brian, I forgot to tell you that we were having split pea soup, a green salad with lots of green ingredients for lunch and then for desert I ordered a nice lime soufflé."

Brian was at his best now, "But Your Majesty, I am allergic to the color green."

The Queen took Brian's arm and he ushered her into the royal dining room. She looked at everyone, "I believe the only person who you haven't met is my husband Philip. Now, if everyone will find his or her place, we can eat after everyone gets comfortable. I told you the lunch was to be casual so jackets and ties are not necessary. I don't want to be responsible for you getting stains on them or Brian will probably send me the dry cleaning bill."

Brian found his seat which was next to Prince Harry. Prince Harry was wearing his riding gear. The Prince looked at Brian, "I thought we were supposed to be having a horsemanship lesson after lunch. You can't very well go riding in that outfit."

Brian looked at Prince Harry, "We learned to ride at a nude dude ranch, so that is the only way we know how to ride, so I'll just shed my clothes and ride naked."

The Queen was laughing, "I guess I will need to come and enjoy the scenery."

Brian was sitting between Prince Harry and Philip. They kept everyone around them laughing through lunch. It was almost as if they were the center of attention.

After the meal which was a light elegant lunch, the Queen rose and started to speak, "I want to thank you people personally for having the courage to do what you have done. I still am not sure how everything happened, but the important thing is that it did happen. Now if you will excuse us we need to get dressed to receive your President Smith and his wife this afternoon."

Brian and I looked at each other and Brian had to say something, "I didn't know Uncle Mickey was coming to England."

That made some heads turn. The Queen looked at Brian, "Is President Smith really your Uncle?"

Brian shook his head, "Uncle Mickey and Aunt Georgia aren't really our blood relatives, but they are very close friends of our parents. In fact Uncle Mickey and our Dad lived in the same house for a short time. They have always been like an aunt and uncle to us."

Ambassador Montoya started to laugh, "We are having the reception on Friday night in honor of your President. Michael and I were roommates in college for three years before he went to dentistry school. It's a small world isn't it?"

Everyone was standing as the Queen and Prince Philip departed. After they were out of the room, Brian looked at Prince Harry, "Is there a place at the stables where we can change into our riding clothes?"

Prince Harry assured us that there was. It turned out that none of the older adults was going to accompany us, so Prince Harry was going to ride with us on the bus to give directions to the stable.

When we arrived at the stable, which was a posh place indeed, Prince Harry directed the three ladies to a changing room. He accompanied us to a fancy changing room. As we were changing into jeans and sport shirts, Prince Harry started to laugh, "It's a good thing that young Mr. Philip isn't with us or he would have a gotten an eye full, especially if he saw Ben and Grant. I hope you two gentlemen know what to do with those monsters."

Brian started to laugh, "Why Prince Harry, I can't believe a man of the royal family would talk like that."

"Could everyone please drop the Prince for the afternoon. Brian, I don't care who anyone is or how old they are, they check to see what the competition is packing every chance they get. It's too bad Chelsey couldn't be with us today. She would have had a blast, but she has a big exam at the university this afternoon. Maybe we could get together tonight."

That was almost more than Brian could stand, "Wait a minute sir, are you saying she would be checking the merchandise also? Who is Chelsey anyway?"

Prince Harry shrugged, "Chelsey is a young lady that I have been dating. She likes to have a good time and would get a charge out of meeting you people, especially you, Master Brian."

This is Brian.

I was the first person changed and as I was leaving the room where we had changed, Prince Harry followed me. "Brian, what's with those four guys always being with you young people. Is there something going on that I don't know about?"

I looked at him like I didn't understand what he was talking about. "Sir, it's very simple really. Rafael, is the Chief of Security for the Spanish Embassy and as such the Ambassador has insisted that he be with his daughter, Maria, and her friend, Inga, to make sure they are safe. Jaime and Shamus work for Uncle Hank and Uncle Rod. I am sure that our Uncles have told them to stick to us like glue after everything that has been happening to us. Matthew works for Minister Smyth, so I am sure that he has been directed to watch out for all of us."

Prince Harry asked another question before the rest of the people had reappeared. "This is none of my business, but how did you meet up with the three young ladies if you have only been here since last Saturday?"

I decided to be funny, "We advertised in the paper that three handsome debonair gentlemen would be arriving and they would like to meet some ladies to be their escorts."

"Brian that's not even plausible. An Ambassador's daughter and a Minister's daughter would never respond to such an advertisement."

"Okay sir, I met Vicky on the flight here and we hit it off. Ben and Grant met Maria and Inga at Cornell University, where they are going to be going to college, when they went for some testing. The two young ladies just happened to be on the same flight here as were. For your information, Your Royal Highness, Inga's Father is a Chief Justice in Sweden and her Mother has won a Nobel prize so I doubt very much if she would ever answer such an ad either."

Prince Harry was laughing so hard that he could hardly talk, "Now I am beginning to understand why none of you were intimidated by meeting my Grandmother."

"Your Royal Highness, you have no idea how much trouble I got into when we returned to Uncle Hank's and Uncle Rod's house after the awards at Westminster Palace this morning. I told them that I didn't bow to the President and that I wouldn't bow to anyone. I reminded them that I was not a British subject and you and your Grandmother got dressed in the morning just like the rest of us do. You do, don't you?"

This is Grant.

When the rest of us approached Prince Harry and Brian, the Prince was laughing and sputtered, "Yes, but you will never see me do it."

Brian shook his head, "I wouldn't bet on that."

We went into the stable and the Prince introduced us to the stable master. Prince Harry turned to us, "Have all of you ridden before?"

I shook my head no as did Jaime, Shamus and Matthew. The Prince thought for a minute, "Let's get everyone a horse and we will start slow to make sure everyone gets the feel of the horse before I give young Master Brian his horsemanship lesson."

Brian had been looking at the horses, "Can I pick the one I want to ride?"

The stable master looked at the Prince who nodded, "You can have any horse you want except the gray one there. He's mine."

Brian walked up and down the stable and it looked like he was talking to the horse when all of a sudden a big black horse reared up and whinnied. Brian turned around, "This is the one I want to ride. Ben, why don't you ride that good looking brown horse with the white diamond on his forehead?"

The stable master looked at Brian, "Master Brian, are you sure you want to ride Black Bart? He can be a little difficult."

Brian wasn't about to be deterred, "I'm sure, Sir, but thank you for asking though."

After the horses were bridled and saddled, we led them out to paddock area and we helped the three ladies get into the saddles. Ben, Prince Harry and Rafael showed everyone how to mount. As soon as everyone was seated in their saddle, Prince Harry started to lead us around the paddock until he was sure that everyone was comfortable. He began to increase the speed and everyone was able to keep up.

The stable master opened the gate and we went onto what looked like the football field that we saw at the match last night except it was much larger and the goals were different.

Prince Harry asked, "How many people are to play croquet as Brian calls it?"

The only four who were going to play were Ben, Rafael, Prince Harry and Brian, of course. Before anyone had a chance to say anything, Brian blurted out, "Us Yanks will take on you Europeans and mop the floor."

Prince Harry looked at Brian, "It would be better if we had a full complement of four on a side but the same rules will apply. Here, put on these safety hats and we will play one chukka since the horses are not used to playing any longer than seven minutes and it is hard on them."

Three gentlemen in black shirts appeared on horses with mallets and the ball.

The Prince announced, "These gentlemen will be the referees for the match."

I could hear Brian sending thoughts to Ben telling him what he thought they should do. Ben asked me if I could hear what Brian was saying also. I sent back a message saying, `Yes, do as he tells you. He has something up his sleeve.'

The match started and Prince Harry hit the ball toward the goal. Brian had Black Bart racing to get to the ball. He sent Ben a message, `Go toward our goal and I'll send you a backhand shot. Brian got to the ball first and caught Rafael and Prince Harry off guard with how hard he hit a backhand shot. The ball went right by them and by the time the two of them got turned around Ben and his horse were practically walking the ball into the goal. On the next series of plays, Prince Harry was called for a foul and Ben was awarded a free stroke.

Brian sent a message to Ben, `Bart and I are going to pretend like we are going to defend the goal. Tap the ball backwards and when the Prince and Rafael start charging, we'll take it around the outside before they can change directions and take it to the goal.'

That is exactly what happened, but no one was expecting what happened next. Prince Harry jumped off his horse and threw down his head gear and his mallet, "There is no way that you two have not played polo before."

Ben spoke for the two of them, "Your Royal Highness, we have never played croquet on a horse before, as Brian calls it."

Prince Harry was frustrated, "But it was as if you were reading each other's minds and knew exactly what each of you was going to do."

Brian laughed, "That's what brothers do best."

Prince Harry wasn't finished, "Look, I have a brother and we could never do what you two just did. We are too much alike and are always trying to out do each other. Now I'll tell you what we are going to do; we are going to go to the obstacle course and everyone can participate. We will get Ian here to keep the times. Brian, I am going to beat your fanny yet."

The Prince continued, "Scotty, why don't you demonstrate how the course is to be run. The four of us who were in the croquet match will go last so our horses have a chance to rest."

Scotty ran the course and Vicky went next and she was very good as was Maria. The rest of us were rather bad by comparison until it came to Brian. He and Black Bart raced through the course with a great time. The last contestant was Prince Harry. He looked determined and did a respectable job but he lost out to the two fourteen year olds.

Brian recognized that the Prince was not a happy camper. He looked at Prince Harry, "I see an equestrian course over there. I'll give you a chance to get even. You can change horses if you wish, but I'll ride Black Bart."

Prince Harry looked a little concerned, "Brian, I don't know that Black Bart has ever done anything like that. You could both be injured."

Brian jumped off his horse and started to talk to Black Bart. He looked at Prince Harry, "Bart says he can do it. Why don't you go first, so I can see what we have to do."

Ben was sending me a message, `I think Brian just bit off more than he can chew.'

The Prince went through the course with only one bar down on and the double fence obstacle. Brian and Bart started and they sailed though the course with no faults. The stable master was standing there laughing, "Master Brian, I think you just set a course record for best perfect round time. We have had better times but they always had faults."

Prince Harry surprised everyone. He yanked Brian off of Black Bart and hugged him, "So much for horsemanship lessons, I think I just got my butt kicked and kicked good by a fourteen year old. Now, let's get these horses back to the stable, it is almost tea time."

Brian did not remount Black Bart but instead walked beside the horse back to the stable. He took the saddle and bridle off of Black Bart and started to groom him. The stable master approached Brian, "Sir, we'll take care of that. That's what we get paid for doing."

Brian looked at the man, "Look, I rode him so this is the least I can do for him. I don't suppose you have a couple of apples or sugar cubes that I might give Black Bart, do you?"

The stable master left and returned with two apples and handed them to Brian. Brian put one of the apples in his hand and it appeared as if Black Bart was trying to make it last. He would take a little bite and then come back for more. Finally both apples were finished and Brian hugged the horse and we went to the changing rooms.

This is Ben.

When we were entering the changing room, Prince Harry announced, "Tea will be served on the veranda in twenty minutes."

Everyone took a quick shower. When we were getting ready to go meet the young ladies on the veranda, Prince Harry turned to everyone. "There's more here than meets the eye. I want to know the truth and nothing but the truth."

Brian looked Prince Harry in the eye, "Your Royal Highness, I am exactly who I pretend to be, a snot nosed teenager. If everyone else told you their stories we would all be old men. Now let's go. I'm starving."

Editor's comments: If the monarchy ever crumbled (Heaven forbid!),

Prince Harry and Brian could work up a great comedy routine, and make a mint.. This was a great chapter (as usual).

An Editor's Notes: As is true of all the other chapters of this wonderful story, I had a wonderful time reading it. As always, I am ready for the next chapter and eager to see what will happen next.

Great chapter!

Darryl AKA The Radio Rancher