It was late in 1775, and King George III was at Buckingham Palace, sitting in reflective mood on his commode. His 13 year old son Prince George (yes, they were very imaginative with their names, those royal types), was sitting on the floor nearby, otherwise occupied with the 18th century equivalent of Game Boy: a model soldier with a rifle sat on a model elephant, shooting at a .geekowear model tiger two planks of wood away.
Their peace, tranquility, and respective modes of concentration were broken by the excited entry of a royal messenger. You could be excused for thinking that he had arrived over 200 years early for an audition for “Robin Hood – Men In Tights”.
The tight clad messenger hesitated before the King, seemingly unsure of whether to bow or curtsy. It was not clear whether this was caused by uncertainty over his own sexuality, or that he had been out of the country so long he had forgotten the refinements of British court life. He bowed.
“Your Highness”, he said, breathlessly. “I have grievous news from the Americas.”
The King looked puzzled for a moment, but Prince George ignored his Game Boy and started to pay attention. Finally, the King said:
“The Americas? Is that one of my domains?”
“Yes, your Highness, it is the 13 American colonies.”
“Aah,” said the King, “since I past the 100 mark I’ve had trouble remembering them all.”
“The news is not good,” the messenger resumed. “It seems that some strange illness, a virus, has hit the whole population. It has had a terrible effect, your Highness. It has affected their vocal chords. All the population is affected.”
“Why is that so grievous? Do they not have a doctor over there?” the King asked in unworldly innocence.
“Your Highness. They can no longer speak the King’s English. They’ve all started speaking in a strange accent, and all the words of the King’s English are being distorted. They sound like they’re of another world. The virus is so virulent, your Highness, nobody can speak the King’s English any more.”
“This virus, could it have been planted by the French? They’re so jealous of all my colonies; they’d stop at nothing,” the King responded. “This accent they all now speak in, this foreign tongue, does it sound French?”
“Thankfully not, your Highness. But how would the French smuggle this virus in?” asked the messenger.
“You remember Troy? The Trojan horse? That’s how they’d do it, the sneaky French. Trust them to use a Trojan horse to get a virus into my domain,” the King conjectured.
The messenger looked anxiously and expectantly at the King, who went on:
“There’s only one thing for it. I cannot have subjects from my own land not speaking the King’s English.”
He waved his arm dismissively. “Get rid of them”, he said. “Leave them to fend for themselves. I know they’ll never survive on their own, let alone progress, but we cannot have my Kindom corrupted by those virus ridden settlers.”
“But your Highness, don’t you think you should visit the territory to assess the problems for yourself?” the messenger suggested.
The King shook his head knowingly.
“We have no cure for this mysterious virus. What would be the point of my going?”
Prince George looked across pleadingly:
“Oh, please, go Daddy. I want those domains.”
“No son, those colonies are no longer part of my realm, and will not be part of yours to inherit,” the King replied.
With the wave of a hand, the King dismissed his American colonies. But it was not the end of the story by far.
The messenger was sent on his way to tell the King’s officials to prepare papers that would lead the way to American Independence; and just as an afterthought, he also sent a message to Parliament