THE DEATH OF KINGS (Queens, Princes, Princesses, Etc.)


Bob and I spent a few days in Madrid on our way to Alicante.  We took a tour of the Royal Palace.  Our guide was a woman who spoke English with an accent, and she also talked very fast, so it was difficult to understand her.  As she led us through the rooms, she told us whose room it had been in what year, and how that person died.  Although her staccato delivery was something like modern day Rap, and we missed some of each story, we could always hear the ending because her voice would rise and get louder, almost like a chant.  Each ending had a different phrase but the same message: the person had met an early and unnatural death:  “This was the room of Princess——in the year—-.  She was MURDERED BY HER HUSBAND.”  This was the room of King—–.  In the year—-HE WAS POISONED.”   “This was the room of—–.  She was STABBED WHEN SHE WAS ONLY FOURTEEN.”  “This was the room of——.  He was KILLED IN BATTLE.”  “This was the room of——.  She was MURDERED BY HER SISTER.”  “HAD HIS THROAT SLIT.”  “HUNG.”  “FELL TO HIS DEATH.”  “MURDERED IN HIS SLEEP.”   It brought to my mind this quote from Shakespeare:

For God’s sake, let us sit upon the ground,
And tell sad stories of the death of kings:
How some have been deposed; some slain in war;
Some haunted by the ghosts they have deposed;
Some poisoned by their wives; some sleeping killed;
All murdered.  For in the hollow crown
That rounds the mortal temples of a king
Keeps death his court; and there the antic sits,
Scoffing his state and grinning at his pomp;
Allowing him a breath, a little scene
To monarchize, be feared, and kill with looks;
Infusing him with self and vain conceit–
As if this flesh which walls about our life
Were brass impregnable; and humored thus,
Comes at the last, and with a little pin,
Bores through the castle wall and—farewell king!

Well, there you have it!