Betrayal: Royal Highness and Queen Gertrude

I know I shouldn't have, but one doesn't always do what one knows is right. I suppose I was bored of regular court life and looking for some excitement. My husband, the king, is always so occupied with affairs of state. Although he loves me, he doesn’t seem to notice me most of the time.

The king is a good man but I would like a bit of intrigue in our relationship. A relationship, in my opinion, should be exciting and cause your heart to flutter every once in a while. When Claudius, the king's brother, first began making advances to me, I was flattered and felt like I had not felt in years. There was the excitement that came from courting danger, and he is a dangerous man.

He was a man to which one would think twice before saying “no” to. I convinced myself that it would be alright. Just a look, then a touch, then a kiss. Why do I feel so guilty then? I suppose if it had remained a lighthearted romance, it wouldn't be so bad. It had all happened so quickly, one minute things were innocent, and the next minute we were in my bed. Oh why did I let it go so far? I never wanted this to happen? What vanity has led me to this?

What would my husband say or do if he found out? He would have his brother executed immediately. But he would never do such a thing to me, he loves me too much. Perhaps I should I confess the whole affair to my husband and beg his forgiveness and understanding. Perhaps he would spare his brother's life, but he would surely be imprisoned for life. What have I done? What will come of my wayward actions? I must do it! I must tell my husband! My game must end before something more evil comes of it.

The queen’s inner turmoil was interrupted as Mary, one of her ladies-in-waiting, bursts through the door of her bed-chamber, “My lady! My lady! The king is ...! Oh you must make haste, my queen!” After this brief, verbal explosion, Mary fled back down the corridor.

The insolence of folks these days. Not so much as a, “If you please, my lady.” For heaven's sake, one should at least knock before entering the bedchamber of the queen! But I suppose I should go at once, as she seems to be in great earnest. Where did Mary mean for her to go? I think she turned in the direction of the royal gardens. Best to go that way. Something must have happened, perhaps the king had fallen down the stairs again as he did just last week. He must learn to stop rushing about and watch more carefully where he is going.

As the queen passed one of the male servants in a passage, she asked, “George, what is going on? Mary was in hysterics!” “Your majesty. I am dreadfully sorry that fate has appointed me to be the bearer of such dreadful tidings, my queen. His royal highness the king was bitten by a serpent while sleeping in his orchard. The doctor said that his body was already cold when he got there. My condolences, my lady.”

Dead? My husband? The queen stared at him in utter shock and shakily asked, “Where is he? Where have they put him?” “I believe the doctor had him placed in his bed chambers, my queen.” He replied. “I must go there at once.” she muttered. While rushing down corridor after corridor, to get to the king’s bedchamber, the memories of all the years they spent together came bursting upon her like the breaching of a dam.

I saw him for the first time as I peeked through my window into the courtyard below. I was only 18 and he and his father had come to form an alliance between our kingdoms through our marriage. I thought him to be the handsomest man there was. Then, 5 years later, when our son Hamlet was just two years old, the three of us would often sit in that same orchard. My husband would tell Hamlet stories and I would laugh as he spun such tales of adventure and chivalry.

What have I done? I have betrayed him, with his brother no less. Why, oh why? It was too late to turn back now. No one must know of it. Such a scandal would shame the throne of Elsinore. With her guilt a heavy burden on her shoulders, Queen Gertrude walked through the open door of the King's bed chambers. The mutterings of the few servants and nobility who were gathered there ceased immediately as they respectfully stepped back to allowing the queen to pass. Walking in a daze to the bedside, she dared to look upon the face of her dead husband.

His face, surrounded with golden curls now streaked with silver, possessed a certain look of superior wisdom. Sitting next to him, she took his hand, now cold in death. Lifting his hands to her lips, the queen mouthed a silent, “I'm sorry” as tears blurred her vision. The queen began to sob more openly and others in the room did the same, mourning their king, the best of men, a man loved by all. But no one knew that the queen was weeping for herself and for the love that she had betrayed.