The Mace

Julie

Creative partner Lana Citron

editor Julia Pascal

reader Marlar Lwin

A new century
Commonwealth Day
Westminster Abbey
Second Monday in March
54 countries to be celebrated
2.4 billion people to be honoured
What will happen?
The mace bearer
It is me!

Why?
Thirty-one years’ service at the Commonwealth Secretariat.
In this country
Abroad
I experienced them all.
Thirty one years
‘That’s a life sentence.’ a cabbie tells me.
A glorious one.
We are 350 workers at Marlborough House.
Royals lived there from the early 19th century.
In the garden are tombstones
Of royal pets.

When we go to work
National dress is encouraged. 
I wear my sari.
At Christmas we sing in a choir.
Of course we sing in English
but also in a chosen language
From the Commonwealth
One year it is in Tamil
My mother tongue.
I meet those who govern our society.
Life is good.
There is only one royal I have never met.
Princess Diana.
I was one of her mourners.
Why did she have to die?

In 2000 I am the chosen one.
I will carry the mace down the aisle at Westminster Abbey.
I will walk before
Her Majesty the Queen
In my national dress.
The first woman to carry the symbol of the Head of the Commonwealth
While the world watches.

I have to think about everything.
The mace might be heavy
I must go to the gym.
Eighteen carat gold
Five hundred grammes
All those rubies
All those Commonwealth flags.
Rehearsal there was none
But cues there were some

The day arrives
The mace is not as heavy as I expect.
I walk first
The Queen and Prince Charles
Follow me up the aisle
Of Westminster Abbey.
Everyone is singing
Everyone is looking
The journalists
The politicians
Commonwealth leaders
Prime Minister Tony Blair
Cheri Blair
and Leo
Who is not yet born.
My sari
So colourful!
Later a woman tells me
‘You know it was so lovely.
I forgot to look at the Queen!’

The congregation rises
Curtsies to the Queen
But they are all looking at the mace
Lying easily on my left shoulder
The politicians
The journalists
The ladies
The gentlemen
Other royals
They are all looking
At the woman standing in front of the Queen
And, as they lower themselves
It feels
As if they are bending their knee to me.

And then it is time for the National Anthem.
It is during the fifth verse when I notice Prince Charles twinkling
I am singing proudly until I hear
For the first time
The words of the Fifth Verse.

Julie

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