Sparody: Prologue

Of three things I was certain: Willy and Pa were supposed to meet me fifteen minutes ago. They hadn’t texted or called. And I was fucking freezing.

I was standing there shirtless in the garden at Frogmore Cottage, wearing nothing but my trousers, necklace, toupée, and elevator shoes. I hoped this thoughtful gesture would remind Willy of the time we jumped naked into the North Sea as teenagers.

Or at least I had jumped. Willy actually remained on the boat the entire time, fully clothed and screaming for a floatation device. He proceeded to assault me with a life ring, which he hurled into the water with all his might, aiming directly at my head.

That was the last thing I remembered. Allegedly, I blacked out after the crew pulled me aboard — I had to be airlifted to a hospital in Kirkwall so I wouldn’t succumb to hypothermia. The next morning, Willy had appeared at my bedside and told me what had happened. I turned to him and said, “I forgive you.”

Just as I was prepared to forgive him again.



All these years later. After everything he had said and done. After everything that had happened. In showing up shirtless, I don’t think my message could have been any more clear.

But where was he? And where the fuck was Pa?

My phone pinged, but it was just my wife replying “👍” to the feminist love poem I had texted her last week. A few minutes later, an email came through from my publicist, asking me to confirm the 27 medals, insignia, and pieces of flair I had selected to wear to Grandpa’s funeral next year. But still, not a word from Willy and Pa. Their silence was deafening, like the howling winds of Frostnipistan.

I glanced around the garden and recoiled at the soft light. The gurgling stream. The white spheres of dandelions popping up from the grass, like camera bulbs emerging from near-catastrophic gridlock. I cursed them silently under my breath and turned to face the ancient Gothic ruins — or so Pa and the press would have you believe. The ruins were actually just a few years old — they had been built by HBO production designers as a set for Game of Thrones. Pure stagecraft. 

There was also the royal cemetery, where the most important monarchs had been buried — including Henry the 8th. He was not only my namesake, but my spirit animal. Even now, I could feel his iconic, masculine blood coursing through my capillaries. However, my family had always refused to call me by the same name. I was routinely degraded from childhood and called by King Henry’s nickname instead. When I protested, Willy began calling me “Harold” in mockery. I believe, deep down, this was motivated by envy and intimidation, and kindly permitted him to continue.

Segregated to the very back of the cemetery were the graves of Edward, another former king and my great-grand-uncle, alongside his bed warmer, Wallis Simpson. Granny had a rotation of guards permanently stationed in front of their adjoining headstones, flipping them off 24 hours a day. Preparing the middle finger for such a strenuous task required months of physiotherapy — it was even more intensive than my military training. In fact, several guards were lost to carpal tunnel syndrome and had to retire. 

A sudden gust of wind flagellated my back, making me think of Grandpa. His icy humor was legendary — he would never smile when telling a joke. In fact, I still remember Grandpa’s grim expression when he told me “Harold, don’t fuck with crazy” after meeting my wife (then girlfriend) for the first time. A true comedian of the highest order.

The sound of a twig snapping yanked me out of my daily thought. For a split second I feared the worst — that hordes of paparazzi had followed me here by scooter to defile my unsullied privacy. Then, I saw them. Willy and Pa, striding towards me. My stomach dropped. They were unified — metaphysically entwined, like two palm trees. 🌴🌴

As they approached, I wondered, are we here for a conversation, or a duel? Within seconds, I had my answer. Willy reached into his coat pocket and pulled out an antique Flintlock pistol, then clobbered me on the side of the head with the handle. Not physically, of course. But a glint in his dull brown eyes betrayed the desire.

“Harold,” muttered Willy. Suddenly, his eyes flickered down my exposed torso. “Is that a silicon six pack?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

These words wounded me profusely. It was like a thousand sabers had penetrated my aorta. I was a soldier — I had done a tour of duty in Afghanistan, braving horrific conditions Willy couldn’t even imagine. My underground bunker-cabin, positioned deep beneath the earth’s surface, had no natural light, and dial-up Internet connection made it impossible to enjoy Call of Duty in multiplayer mode. I was also neglected by my guards, who flat out refused to provide back-up support, even though I had several Xbox controllers. I had never felt more alone.

Willy may have been technically correct — I had the abdominal implant surgery performed at the Montecito Cosmetic Cottage eight weeks prior — but that didn’t erase the pain of my own brother admitting out loud that he thought I was soft, like a fresh-baked loaf of banana bread. As if I wasn’t capable of acquiring a six pack on my own. Me — a military veteran and war hero. Like Sun Tzu… or General Patton.

“And why aren’t you wearing a shirt?” asked Pa, who couldn’t resist chiming in. Now I was being bullied. I decided to ignore their taunts and get straight down to business. I attempted to explain my side of things, but after just 45 minutes, was abruptly interrupted by Willy. He said he heard enough. 

I felt defeated. I told him this was the land of my birth, that my wife and I were supposed to spend the rest of our lives here.

“You left Harold,” he replied, somewhat curtly.

“Yes, and YOU KNOW WHY,” I bellowed.

“Harold, I honestly have no idea what the fuck you’re talking about.”

My jaw dropped. Was he really claiming total ignorance of the reasons my wife and I fled this very place in the dead of night, leaving everything — house, hundreds of friends, even our IKEA furniture — behind?

I turned to face Pa. He was silent, but his expression said “Neither do I” (and also “You should be king.”)

I was stunned. Maybe they really didn’t know. I knew I had to tell them. But how? I couldn’t do it now. That would take too long. I needed another two years to write a 400 page memoir for Penguin Random House.

And so: Pa? Willy? Here you go.

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