King Numrene Kongen and Queen Detal Dronningen were happy when sweet Prince Chibi was born. King Numrene and Queen Detal were tall and ample. They seldom smiled, and they never laughed.
Theirs was a very traditional kingdom. People seeking an audience with the royal couple had to climb a tall flight of steps to their thrones.
Years passed and the royal couple grew old. Prince Chibi was middle-aged by then, and the king and queen were concerned about him. Prince Chibi was small and thin, not tall and ample like his parents.
Prince Chibi was bright and friendly, but he was a social revolutionary, and he flouted social, political and cultural traditions of the kingdom.
He refused to marry the princess his parents chose for him. He eschewed deference— no one bowed or addressed him as “your royal highness.” In fact everyone in the palace called him “Checito.”
The prince often ate in the kitchen with the servants rather than in the royal dining room. He preferred working with the field hands to fox hunting.
All this was troubling to King Numrene and Queen Detal. The idea of leaving the kingdom to Prince Chibi worried them, but the thought of disinheriting him was more worrisome because the other candidates to succession were either aristocratic nincompoops who would bankrupt the kingdom, or draconian militarists who would waste its resources on pointless wars of aggression.
The king and queen put Lord Fedt Mand, the chancellor of legal gobbledygook, to work on the problem. He came up with a royal succession document that required Prince Chibi to “not fundamentally change the traditional structure of the kingdom.”
When he became king, Chibi assigned his friend Lord Tynd Mand, the chancellor of media relations, to find a loophole in the royal succession document. Lord Tynd Mand came up with “the Principle of Reverse Applications.”
After a short but fierce legal battle, the Royal Supreme Court decreed that the Principle of Reverse Applications was valid.
That’s when King Chibi put a “closed for renovation” sign on the palace, and solicited bids from contractors. While the palace was being renovated, King Chibi hired a public relations firm to train members of the royal court in new court language and protocol.
Six months later the king held a two-week open house at the renovated palace. He invited everyone in the kingdom to attend. The royal invitations designated the day each person was to attend. The poorest of the poor received special “pre-open house” invitations. There were lavish refreshments and extraordinary entertainment.
The poor, the working class, the middle class, and the quasi-middle class were invited to attend the open house, in that order, in the first thirteen days.
The wealthiest class and the aristocracy were invited to attend on the last day of the open house. By that time refreshments consisted of soda crackers and tepid water, and the entertainers played polkas on instruments created from farm implements.
The open house procedure shocked the wealthy and the aristocrats, but the renovation of the palace and the new royal protocol shocked them even more.
The royal thrones had stood on a platform high above everyone. Now there was a deep hole in the throne room floor. Where there had been steps leading up to the royal thrones there was now a long stainless steel slippery slide.
Everyone who wanted to see King Chibi had to slide down the slippery slide. At the bottom of the slide was a podium from which the petitioner addressed the king. An attendant adjusted the podium so that each petitioner had to stand on tippy toes and speak down to the king. King Chibi sat on a small stool in a pit several feet below the podium.
Every day folks were announced to the king as “Tom the barber,” and “Sally the seamstress.” Aristocrats and the wealthy were announced with fictitious titles such as “His Everlasting Wonderfulness, Lord Bilgewater,” and “Her Extraordinary Exquisiteness Lady Belch.”
Everyone was required to address the king as “your humble lowness.” Sitting on his stool down in the pit, King Chibi smiled and laughed–a lot.