Chapter 9 - It's time
It’s time. No turning back now. I turn to Sir Bisalion.
“Thank you. I will be right there,” I tell him. I turn back to the mirror and shortly after I hear the door being closed. I take one last look in the mirror. My medium brown hair is styled in a half up half down updo, with the front of my hair braided and pinned to the back of my head. The rest of my hair is lightly curled and cascading down my back. My makeup is neutral, with a brown eyeshadow and nude lipgloss. I asked the makeup artist to keep it neutral. It’s the only way I can still keep a part of my old life. A life where I wasn’t the center of attention all the time. This is my way of blending in with the crowds. The dress in itself is enough to draw attention and I don’t want more attention than necessary. With a final look at myself, I turn around and walk towards the door.
The next time I enter this room I will be a princess. The tears are beginning to form in my eyes, but I keep them at bay. I cannot cry now. So, I will cry silently. Not showing anyone the sadness that consumes my mind. I will put on a smile. A smile that will convince everyone else that I am happy and that today is indeed a day for celebrations.
I open the door and walk out. 10 guards are standing by the doors waiting, ready to escort me to the car. As I begin to walk I hear one of the guards talking.
“Papillon is on the move,” he says. Probably in his earpiece to inform the rest of the guards and the event coordinator of my nearing arrival.
I walk down the hallway with my head held high, and descent down the stairs in the same way. As I reach the ground level, Sir Bisalion is waiting for me with a white ribbon. I walk towards him and he places the ribbon on my left shoulder so that the end rests on my right hip. In my many lessons with Sir Bisalion, he informed me that the white ribbon is a symbol of royalty that is used at formal events. The color of the ribbon is different in every country. I remember seeing the Danish ribbon being a light blue, and in Monaco it’s white.
Sir Bisalion steps aside and the doors open and I begin to walk outside to the waiting cars. There are three black cars waiting and a guard opens the backseat door for the car in the middle. I already know it’s the car I will be driving in. It’s always this way. There are three cars and I am always in the middle car. I’ve been told by one of the guards that it’s a security strategy that is commonly used throughout the world.
As I sit in the car the door is closed behind me and we soon begin to move. The driver is again Jeremiah and I hear him saying: “Papillon departing from the palace.“. He is speaking in his earpiece.
As the doors of the palace open up I can hear the people cheering and chatting, and as the car leaves the palace I see all of the people of Monaco that are waving at the car. The whole country has been excited and cheering for the past two months in anticipation of the coronation. It’s been two months since the palace released a message saying that my coronation is today, which also means the people have only known of me for two months. I have yet to make a public appearance. It’s all a part of the deal I made with Sir Bisalion. However, this also means that today is the first time for the public to be seeing me. After today everyone will know who I am. The thought of all these people knowing who I am is enough to make me a nervous wreck. But I don’t show how nervous I am. One of Sir Bisalion’s lessons come to mind. ′A princess must never show her emotions if they are not of joy and happiness.′
So, I don’t show my emotions. To anyone.
“Are there many people gather around the church, Jeremiah?” I ask him. I try to convince myself that if I know how many people I will be facing, it won’t be as frightening.
“Yes, Your Highness. Everyone is excited about the coronation. Practically the whole city has gathered around the church and along our route to the church, Your Highness,” He tells me while smiling. I’m pretty sure he is excited as well. Everyone is. Except me. His words register in my brain, that everyone is gathered on the streets, and I look out the window. True to what Jeremiah said there are people everywhere. Fortunately, the car has tinted windows so no-one can see me.
It’s a short drive to the Church of Monaco where my coronation will take place and so we arrive after only driving for 10 minutes. I can see the flashing lights from the cameras and I know that any moment now the door will open and I have to step out of the car. And as soon as I step out of the car all is revealed.
I put on my smile and try to make it reach my eyes. I can’t let anyone see my emotions. Just as that thought leaves my mind the door opens next to me. I take a deep breath and step out of the car. As soon as I am out of the car I look up and see the many people waving, smiling, and trying to get my attention. I smile and wave to everyone as I step away from the car and begin my ascent up the stairs towards the church. I make sure to turn around and wave to as many people as I can while making eye contact with them. As soon as my eyes land on the different people and I smile at them I see their smiles growing and becoming bigger. They are truly excited about this event. As I reach the last step and I am ready to enter the church I turn around and give a final smile and wave to everyone. I turn around and walk inside the church where I have the chance to breathe for a second before the ceremony beings. The doors close behind me and I release a breath I didn’t realize I had been holding. It’s all very overwhelming and so I take a couple of deep breaths to try and calm down my heart and settle my nerves.
“Your Highness? We are ready for you.” One of the guards tells me. I nod at him and straighten my back and yet again I find my smile. The doors to the church open for me and I observe all the people standing and looking in my direction. The choir sings a low and beautiful song as I step inside. As I walk down the aisle the guest in the church bow in my direction, and as I walk nearer to the front I see my family in the front row, staring at me with shock, disbelief, confusion and so many other emotions. I simply smile in their direction and I turn my eyes to the people in front of me. There is a throne in the middle of the altar and on that throne sits the King. He is smiling, something I haven’t seen him do before. I guess he is happy as well that he finally has an heir to the throne. I reach the priest that is standing a few steps in front of the King. He is the archbishop and will be performing the coronation ceremony. All of the guests in the church take their seats as the choir’s song stops. The guests consist of high-ranking officials of the country as well as several Kings, Queens, and other world leaders. Quite a crowd to have at a coronation. The archbishop begins his speech.
“We are here today to welcome a new member of the royal family of Monaco. It’s a day of celebration and a promise of a bright future for our country.” He says with a loud and clear voice. The rest of his speech goes on about the importance of a leader and then he moves on to thank God for blessing us with such a prosperous country and people. He turns to me and I know it’s my turn to speak very soon.
He looks me in the eyes and asks: “Do you promise to protect the country of Monaco and its citizens?”
“I promise,” I say with a clear voice. I have been practicing that voice for months, trying to get it just right for me to sound confident and speak loud enough for everyone to hear. I know that coronation is being broadcasted so that everyone has a chance to watch.
“Do you solemnly swear to always have the best interest of Monaco at heart, and to always do what is right for Monaco?” he asks me again.
“I do solemnly swear,” I tell him, using the same voice again.
The archbishop then turns to the King and asks him: “Your Majesty, do you approve of the princess as the heir to the throne?”
The King stands up and looks me in the eyes. His eyes show no emotions this time and I am afraid of his answer. His answer can either set me free or bind me to the title forever and for a moment I hope he won’t approve so that I can return to my old life. But that hope is crushed when he says.
“I approve,” he simply speaks and then he takes a seat again.
And with that my fate is sealed. The archbishop turns to me again and I see a guard dressed in his gala uniform walk towards me. In his hands are a cushion and on that cushion is my crown. It’s gold with ruby’s and diamonds decorating its different shapes. It’s a beautiful crown and the ruby’s match my dress. The guard stops between the archbishop and me. The archbishop takes the crown in his hands, and I kneel on a cushion that is placed on the ground in front of me. He raises the crown in the air above my head, and his voice resonates in the church.
“By the power vested in me by the King of Monaco and God I now declare you the Crown Princess of Monaco.” and with his words, the crown is placed on my head. It’s quite heavy and I am glad I have had several hours of practice on balancing a crown on my head. I rise from the cushion and turn towards the guests in the church.
“I present to you, Her Royal Highness Crown Princess Nathalie of Monaco,” the archbishop says and then guests stand up and applaud. Soon after the words resonate in the church:
“Long live the Princess. Long live the Princess,” they all cheer while applauding in my direction. I keep the smile on my face as I begin to walk towards the entrance of the church again. It’s time to meet people gathered in front of the church and greet them as I am officially the Crown Princess of Monaco. As I walk down the aisle I look at my family again. My sister is smiling and clapping as much as she can. I think she is excited that her sister is a real-life princess, without realizing the consequences that come with that title. My grandma has a look of melancholy in her eyes, while she smiles slightly at me. My parents are looking at me with the same look of confusion on their faces.
I reach the doors of the church and they open for me. I step outside where the sun is shining above our heads. All the people that are gathered cheer even louder when they see me step out of the church. I stop at the head of the stairs and I smile and wave at everyone. But the only thought that runs through my mind is ′My old life is over. I will never be Nathalie Reed again.′ and that thought scares me. But I keep the smile and I continue to wave at all the people smiling at me. The paparazzi are calling my name around me, trying to get a comment from me. However, a lady from the PR department at the palace informed me that I can’t talk to anyone just yet. They have something planned for a future press conference, and I’m fine with that. The King emerges from the church and he stands on my left side beside me and waves as well. He turns to me and says in a low voice.
“You did great. We will be taking the same car to the palace. It’s waiting for us.” and with that, he turns back to face the crowds and continue waving. I see the three cars waiting at the bottom of the stairs. The King takes a step and I follow him and with that, we begin our descent down the stairs and towards the cars. However, our descent is slow and we stop once in a while to continue waving and smiling. We finally reach the car and a guard on each side of the car opens the two doors to the backseat. The King walks around the car to one of the open doors and I stop at the other door. I wave and smile a bit more at the people gathered, and with that, both the King and I take a seat in the car. The door soon shuts beside me.
The driver starts the car and we are on our way back to the palace. I look out the window of the car and I see everyone still waving and smiling.
“Your family is waiting in the library back at the palace, we will meet them first, and afterward the coronation reception will begin.” The King tells me without looking at me.
“Of course, Your Majesty,” I say to him without looking at him as well. My mind is overwhelmed with everything that has happened today and now I have to face my family and all of their questions.