The day
before the visit, Friday, Papa called Robert, Mary and me into the drawing
room. He was very serious, and asked us to sit, whilst he stood with his back
to the fire.

“Dearest
Robert, Mary and Louisa, there are some things that I wish to impart to you
about our young Royal Princess.”

Mary gave me
a little nudge, as she had told me of some rumours, but I was not entirely sure
they were true.

“Firstly the
Princess is known by the name “Drina” to her family and friends. Her real name
is Alexandrina Victoria, and “ Drina” is a short version of this.”

“Oooooh…would
she … I mean…Her Royal Highness…think on us as friends?” Mary asked, eagerly

Papa smiled.

“I am sure
that she will, Mary. In fact, she refers to me as “Uncle Liverpool.”

I was
surprised to hear this. Papa had never mentioned it. He is known as the Earl of
Liverpool, so that must be why she chose “Uncle Liverpool”. Papa was not in any
way an uncle to Drina.

“Drina is
just thirteen years old, only two years older than you Mary dear, and she
carries a great weight and responsibility on her shoulders.”

“She is to be
the Queen, Uncle Liverpool” Mary giggled at her little joke “May I call you
“Uncle Liverpool” Uncle Charles?”

Robert
laughed.

“Mary, do be
quiet. Let Uncle Liverpool speak,” he grinned.

Papa looked
at Mary as sternly as he could. I think she is his most favourite niece.

“As Drina is
heiress presumptive, Mary, she is required to live by certain rules that must
be adhered to at all times. These rules
ensure her safety.”

“That does
not sound like fun. Do you think that sounds like fun cousin Louisa?”

I shook my
head, and started to feel a little laugh bubble in my throat. Mary could always
be counted on for amusement. Papa cleared his throat.

“First, you
must know that Drina sleeps with her mother in the same room at all times.”

“What?” Mary
said loudly, “at thirteen years old? I should not like that at all. I wonder if
the Duchess of Kent snores. I rather think that she does.”

I could see
Papa’s mouth turning up at the sides. Mary was incorrigible.

“Mary, I am
sure that is disrespectful,” Robert said, and put his hands to his face.

“Perhaps you
should question Catherine,” I said. My sister, Catherine was her Lady in
Waiting.

Papa sighed
and looked at me, raising his eyebrows.

“Secondly, Drina
is never allowed to be alone. At all times there is to be an adult
present…either her governess or…”

“That is so
sad…” Mary bowed her head.” Mamma says that she is thankful when I am …”

“Either her
governess, whom she calls Lehzen,” Papa interrupted, ”her mother, or Sir John
Conroy.”

Robert
smiled, “Conroy? I have heard of him.” He looked at Mary. “Mary, is he the one that Emily says is a…”

“And thirdly,”
Papa sighed, “our young Princess will not be offered unsuitable reading
material, or allowed to take part in unsuitable topics of conversation.”

Mary stood up
and walked to Papa, and hugged him around his waist.

“I
understand, Uncle Liverpool, I understand perfectly why you have come to us
with this problem.”

Papa looked
confused, and Mary took his hands.

“Dearest
Uncle Liverpool, you need our help, do you not, to save her?”

“Save her,? Dear
Mary, what do you mean save her?”

Mary looked
at Robert and me and smiled.

“You wish
Louisa, Robert and me to help the poor girl. You want us to change her so that
she is more like a girl of thirteen and not a convict that one would send to
Australia?”

Papa made a
spluttering noise and I saw that his face was going red, and not from the heat
of the fire. I threw my head back and laughed. Papa looked confused again and
looked at me for help.

“No, dear
child, I …”

“Do not
worry, Uncle dearest, we shall make sure that Drina enjoys every minute of her
stay here. First, we shall…”

“Mary…no… I
did not…I meant that…”

“Do not be
sad for Princess Drina, Uncle Liverpool. I know how you are all for jollity and
fun. It must break your heart.”

Papa wiped
his forehead with his handkerchief.

“We shall
start by showing her how you can escape from a window by…”

Papa groaned,
“What an enchanting child you are Mary, but really, I … I merely meant that
you should …will…exercise the utmost…”

“Whatever is
the matter, Uncle Liverpool? You look quite ill. Should I call for the brandy?”

Papa made a
sound that sounded like a laugh and a cry and made to leave the room. He looked
at me, in a muddled way, Papa was never very good at remaining serious for too
long.

“Louisa, I
trust you will do the right thing”

“Yes, Papa” I
smiled. “We will be angels.’

He left the
room, and Mary followed him.

“Do not worry
we shall not fail you, dearest uncle.”

With that, she slammed the door behind him. She returned, and we sat for
the remainder of the afternoon by the fire with Darcy and Mrs. Jackson’s scones..