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The Windsor Knot by SJ Bennett

The Windsor Knot by SJ Bennett

Author:SJ Bennett
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Bonnier Publishing Fiction


Chapter 17

A

n hour later, they were back at work in the private sitting room. Rozie was aware of sore thighs after such a long time since her last hack, but it was worth it for the exhilaration of the ride. She still felt a glow, thinking about it, and especially that last bit, racing across Home Park at hyper-speed, until Temple finally agreed to submit to her commands and trot for home like a show horse at Olympia. She was very fond of him already. He was a rascal, but she had the measure of him. The Queen had told her she could ride him whenever she was free. Rozie stood in a bubble of happiness.

The Queen, in cashmere and pearls, and looking as if she had spent half a day in a salon, nursed a cup of black tea with honey. The squall had passed quickly, but had drenched them all anyway. She had gone upstairs immediately to spruce up and put her head under the hairdryer. The last thing one needed was a head cold this week.

She brought Rozie up to speed on the incident with the Elizabeth Cross.

‘So, you think she stole the jacket?’ Rozie asked.

‘Possibly.’ Or the very identity, the Queen wanted to add. But she couldn’t quite bring herself to say the words out loud. ‘Can you check, please, whether the Stiles family were awarded the medal? And can I see a picture of her?’

‘Yes, ma’am.’

Oh, and Rozie?’

‘Ma’am?’

‘There is a gentleman called Billy MacLachlan who lives in Richmond. He was in my protection team a long time ago. You’ll find his contact details in the files. Could you ask him, very privately, to double-check with the pathologist that there was nothing unusual about Dr Stiles’s death? I think he still has good links with the police. You might get him to suggest he has a source who thinks it might not have been a simple overdose.’

‘Yes, ma’am.’

‘And I needn’t say . . .’

‘No, ma’am, of course. Now, about Thursday. The Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall will be arriving from Highgrove at about midday . . .’

*

The afternoon was scheduled for a haircut and a long session with Angela, the Queen’s dresser. There were several outfit changes to finalise for the coming days, and the weather remained resolutely unpredictable. There was also jewellery to choose, laid out for inspection in a series of open, velvet-lined boxes. It was always good to spend time with someone who, in other circumstances, she would have called a close friend, but today she had a lot on her mind. The Queen tried to concentrate, but it was more difficult than usual. It took tremendous patience to wait for Rozie’s evening appearance with the next day’s schedule and an update on the morning’s activities.

The news was mixed.

‘Dr Stiles’s father, Captain James Stiles of the Royal Engineers, was killed by an IED in Kosovo in 1999,’ Rozie reported. ‘Rachel was ten. The Elizabeth Cross was presented to her mother, who subsequently died of ovarian cancer, by the Lord Lieutenant of Essex at Merville Barracks in Colchester in 2010.



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