Characters: Caspian, Eustace, Edmund, Reepicheep, Lucy (no pairing)
Disclaimer: Most people I know call me Lucy, or some variation thereof. It can therefore be inferred that my name is not Clive and, subsequently, that I did not write The Chronicles of Narnia.
Summary: Set towards the beginning of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. There are many things Caspian and Eustace cannot see eye to eye on. Politics is one of them.
Notes: Pointless little one-shot that just insisted on being written. Inspiration is taken from Chapter 2 of VoDT: "They call him a King. I said I was a Republican but he had to ask me what that meant! He doesn't seem to know anything at all."
“Edmund, can you tell me what a prime minstrel is?”
Edmund turned to stare at King Caspian, utterly confused. “I don’t think I can,” he replied. “I’ve never heard of one. Where did you get that from?”
“Oh, Eustace was talking about it earlier,” said the King. “He was carrying on about how useless royalty was, and when I tried to explain my duties to him he said Narnia ought to have a prime minstrel instead. I rather suspect that he was giving me cheek, but I wasn’t sure quite what to say.”
Edmund had to bite back a laugh as Caspian stopped talking and looked at him expectantly. “Oh,” he said, keeping his voice meticulously level, “I suppose you meant a Prime Minister.” He hesitated, trying to figure out the best way to explain the concept. “A Prime Minister is sort of like a Governor. Every few years the population vote on who’s going to be Prime Minister, and the selected man and his party are in charge of running the country until the next vote.”
“That isn’t a very good way to rule a country,” said Caspian bluntly. “Why, anyone might get elected! One cannot simply pluck one’s monarchy from the common streets, only to put them back a little while later and select a new batch. Has your country no royal family of its own?”
“Well, that’s the thing. We have a king, too. English politics are fairly complicated, you see.”
Caspian frowned thoughtfully. “Is your King an idler and a wastrel?” he asked, sounding appalled. “Why can he not rule his country without the aid of these Prime Ministers?”
Edmund shook his head. “It’s not like that in England. The Royal Family are there, but they don’t really have any authority.”
“Well then, why bother with them at all?”
“It’s tradition,” Edmund explained, as the Narnian King stared at him in plain astonishment. “England has always been a monarchy. But modern citizens want to have a choice of who governs them instead of the authority being passed down through bloodlines, so they’ve let the monarchy take a backseat. The King can fire the Prime Minister if he really wants to, but all the daily duties and political negotiations fall on the elected government.”
“By the lion!” exclaimed Caspian. “What is the use of a King who does nothing to defend his people? He is sitting in his castle, consuming the country’s resources and giving nothing back to his subjects. It really is insufferable,” he sniffed, shaking his head angrily.
“What’s all this about?” said a new voice. Eustace had emerged from their shared cabin, and was watching the two curiously. “Goodness, do you mean to say you’ve finally understood what I was trying to tell you before?” he said, addressing Caspian snidely. “The Royal Family is a waste of time and money. You just admitted it yourself.”
Caspian glared irritably at the insolent boy, but forcibly bit back the urge to draw his sword and challenge the miserable creature to a duel. It really wasn’t worth it. “That judgement does not extend to my line,” he said haughtily. “I work hard to be worthy of the trust my people place in me.”
“Who’s to say they trust you at all?” persisted Eustace, oblivious or indifferent to the fine line he was treading. “They haven’t been given a choice. You’re in charge because you were born that way, not because you’re any more fit for the job than anyone else.”
“You seem hardly to understand the role of a King in the civilised world,” said Caspian, his tone curt. “What better way to determine the country’s leaders than by birthright? It is a King’s duty to mould his son’s moral character from birth, and to provide him with all the necessary training so that he can become a wise and kindly leader one day. If we let any old civilian take over the throne, we would end up with some bad eggs leading the country. Not all strangers make such excellent leaders as Edmund and his family,” he added, with an apologetic glance at the other king.
“Don’t me daft. Politicians spend years studying and campaigning. Everyone has the right to choose who they let govern them. That’s why…”
It was too much for Edmund. Sensing a long and tedious argument brewing, and not wishing to get caught in the crossfire, he fled the cabin and went to find Lucy. His young sister was sitting out on the poop deck, talking amiably with Reepicheep. He flopped down beside them, groaning.
“What’s Caspian up to?” asked Lucy idly. “He seemed rather agitated just now, when he walked past. Has something happened?”
“He’s below deck, talking politics with Eustace.” No more needed to be said; the girl and the Mouse made small sympathetic noises.
“Honestly, when will Caspian learn?” sighed Lucy. “It’s no good arguing with Eustace about these things. It’ll only end in tears.”
Right on cue, Caspian came storming out onto the deck looking immensely irritated. “I am not a tyrant, am I?” he all but snarled at the trio.
“Certainly not, Sire,” said Reepicheep immediately, leaping to his feet respectfully. “You are a most just and kindly king, and your men follow you with nothing but love and loyalty.” Behind the Mouse, Edmund could not help but roll his eyes. Caspian had changed a lot since their last visit to Narnia, but Edmund never remembered him having had such a temper before. He supposed it was just part of being sixteen years old; he grinned to himself at the thought. It was strange to be so much older than Caspian, at the same time as being so much younger than him.
“I do not much care for your government,” he told Edmund seriously, calming down slightly. “Why, I know I wouldn’t want to entrust Narnia’s welfare to…Republicans. They sound a right useless lot to me.”
Edmund grinned. “That they are, Caspian. That they are.”
He made a mental note never to let Eustace mention politics again.