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The Royal Maquillage

    In a faraway land the royal family, who were of great wealth and honour, had the tradition of having the prince select a future bride to become his queen from a distant range of young women, who could only enter the selection with their parent's permission. You may think that every girl in the kingdom of Lyn would have come, but many did not like the idea of the duties the queen of the land must undertake, others wanted a normal job or had been appointed to take care of their families, while some were simply too nervous. 
    The date was set and the front of the palace prepared.

    They came from many areas of the kingdom, some noble, others less so, each wearing a ribbon or token in the colour of their own region. For weeks the Prince Robert sat through conversation after conversation, danced dance after dance, banquet after banquet, but none of them quite suited his or the kings expectations and requirements. Some were too bold, others flirtatious, a few too plain. He then remembered a girl, the daughter of a Duchess, whom he had met when they were younger, travelling around the further reaches of the kingdom with his father, and he had fallen in love with. She came from the area of Merynsfield, where sky-blue was their colour, but though a couple of proud daughters from that region travelled to the castle, Lily was not among them. Since they had met in youth, her father had died, and she lived with her mother in a distant Duchy. Her mother was a very independent and principalled woman, whose only son had left for a job as counsellor in another kingdom, a position bringing in good money and honour; and a certain future for his wife and children, should he marry. He did not believe in the Duchy, imagining that small dynasties were falling apart. When the Lady Perrington had a second child, a daughter, she rejoiced, and determined that the girl should inherit government of the Duchy, and keep it alive and make it flourish. They had no need of royal interference. And so, despite his hopes, Lily, who must now be a young woman, never turned up. The prince, who believed she had loved him too, was disappointed. The King agreed to allow until the end of the year for new women to present themselves and the prince to make his choice. 
    Meanwhile Lily, who was usually a most dutiful and hard-working daughter, asked her mother to go travelling on vacation with her chaperone. She disappeared.
    After some months, a lady named Mary arrived at the castle and interested the Prince more than all the others. She was invited to stay and within weeks, Prince Robert had decided to marry her. 
It was a very happy marriage. But some time into their new life, the royal family were informed that the Duchess Perrington's daughter had gone missing.  Worried and distraught, she sent search party. She had been searched for everywhere, with no success, and it was now feared that she had been kidnapped. The prince and his father agreed that the young man must in honour go and search for her himself, with a party of armed men. He had no success.  Along with awakening memories of his happy childhood with Lily and worrying thoughts of her unknown fate, Prince Robert returned to his palace home saddened.    

Some little while later the king died and the prince and his bride were crowned King and Queen of the land. And soon, to the delight of the kingdom, the queen conceived a child. A baby girl was born, heir to the throne of Lyn. But the Queen suffered greatly in childbirth and it was soon realised that she would not survive. King Robert, by this time deeply in love with his wife, stayed by her side as she lay in the bed where she had given birth and now was to die. Near the end, though she could hardly speak, tears began to run down her cheeks, as she thought of leaving her new baby and her husband. And the King, watching her intently and hardly surpressing tears of his own, noticed that beneath them, after a while, her skin appeared a different colour to that which he was used to. Before he could question or call, she died. 
    After her death, when the royal servants were preparing the Queen for burial, three of them came to the King where he was grieving, with an urgent message. With an urgent and surprised tone they explained that they had washed and prepared her and would like him to come and see her.
    When King Robert entered the chamber and approached her bed, for a moment he paused, mystified and shocked, when he thought, he saw, lying there in state, not Queen Mary, but Lily, as she might have been were she decked out in royal robes, lying on the bed, pale but beautiful. He moved closer, and realised that it was indeed Queen Mary, and Lily - he had not recognised her, all this time, for she had disguised her colouring, with artful makeup and dark dye in her red hair. He had been living with his true love all this time! The King was sad to have lost her, but very happy to know that he had been married to Lily. He lived with his daughter who reminded him of her, and went on to become one of the wisest and best monarchs the kingdom of Lyn had seen.

A week after Lady Perrington heard the news of her daughters discovery, and death, she died of sadness and a stressed heart. Before her death, she begged those around her to send for her son. Being very busy, he set the letter aside to read later, and so did not arrive in time. When he realised what had happened to his sister and his mother he was filled with sadness. But he soon came up with a plan, to fulfil his mothers' wishes and secure the future of his family. After two days of mourning and fasting in his mother's honour, he set about his affairs to persuade the King he worked for and please everyone. From now on, he would live in and govern the Duchy; but continue his royal advising by letter.   

And up in heaven, looking down, Lily, Lady Perrington and the King, all looked down and smiled. 

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