The Queen and I (novel)

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The Queen and I
TheQueenAnd I.jpg
First edition
AuthorSue Townsend
IllustratorMartin Honeysett
CountryUnited Kingdom
Publication date
Followed byQueen Camilla 

The Queen and I is a 1992 novel/play written by Sue Townsend. In 2018, the book was adapted as a Christmas special on Sky One.


The setting is the United Kingdom, after the 1992 General Election, where the House of Windsor has just been deprived of its Royal status by the People's Republican Party and its members made to live like normal citizens.

After a People's Republican Party government is elected by the British people, who were influenced by subliminal messages sent through their TV sets by members of the television technicians' union manipulated by Jack Barker, the Royal Family has to leave Buckingham Palace and must move to a council estate. Barker, as the new Prime Minister, transforms Britain into a republic and dismantles the monarchy.

In Hellebore Close (aptly known as "Hell Close" to its longtime residents), the new home of the Royal Family, they learn to cope with the normal day of ordinary people. The Queen – now called Mrs Windsor – is not allowed to take all her beloved corgis to her new home in "Hell Close", only Harris is with her and Charles has to learn that you can't keep horses in a council house garden. The Queen is visited by a social worker but refuses to let her in. She learns how to use a zip or buttons and that five hours of waiting to see a doctor in an ordinary hospital is not unusual. She gets to know that living with a small pensioner's income is hard and that you have to organize your budget. On the whole, the Queen quickly learns to cope with the situation and later does not want to go back to Buckingham Palace because of all the duties that would await her there.

On the other hand, her husband Philip cannot cope with the situation. He refuses to eat, is annoyed by sharing a bed with his wife and would like to be anywhere but in Hellebore Close.

Charles, former Prince of Wales, discovers his great love for gardening. While he and his wife Diana, Princess of Wales, begin affairs with their neighbours, their children, William and Harry, think the whole situation is an adventure. Later Charles is imprisoned and sentenced for attacking a police officer, a crime he did not actually commit. His sister Anne takes up with a local handyman. Prince Andrew, Duke of York, is briefly mentioned to be serving aboard a Royal Navy submarine under the Arctic ice cap. Their neighbours, who are at first sceptical, eventually include the ex-royal family in their society and help them as much as their own circumstances allow.

Although the Queen Mum is the oldest, she learns very fast how to cope with the new situation, but even in the poor circumstances of Hellebore Close she cannot stop herself from betting on horses. Her death shakes the whole neighbourhood and everyone takes part in her cheap, but solemn funeral. A disgruntled fishmonger and his wife start a campaign to "Bring Our Monarch Back", under its acronym BOMB.

Jack Barker and his so-called “Kitchen Cabinet” make very expensive promises to the voters, e.g. raising pensions or renewing schools, and soon get into trouble with foreign creditors. After talks with the Japanese Emperor, Barker announces that Britain is to become part of the Japanese Empire, with himself as Governor General. In return, all repayments to Japan are suspended indefinitely. This agreement is sealed by the marriage of the Emperor's daughter Sayako to Edward, the Queen’s youngest son.

It is then revealed that the whole story was a nightmare. The Queen wakes to find that the Conservatives have won the Election instead, as indeed actually happened, and John Major has remained Prime Minister.

In 2006 a sequel, Queen Camilla, was published. The novel ignores the revelation that Hell Close was all a dream, and depicts the royal family as still living there, with Jack Barker still in power.


Royal Family[edit]

New Parliament[edit]

  • Jack Barker, the Prime Minister.
  • Pat Barker, his wife.
  • Rosetta Higgins, Jack's personal secretary.

Hell Close Residents[edit]

  • Tony Threadgold, The Queen's new neighbour.
  • Beverley Threadgold, his wife.
  • Violet Toby, one of Diana's neighbours.
  • Wilfred 'Wilf' Toby, her fifth husband.
  • Marilyn Monk, Beverley's sister and Diana's other neighbour.
  • Leslie Kerry Violet Elizabeth Monk, the child of Marilyn and her imprisoned husband, Les.
  • Philomena Toussaint, the Queen Mother's neighbour.
  • Fitzroy Toussaint, Philomena's son and a possible flame of Diana's.
  • Spiggy, a short man who fitted the carpets for the Queen and starts a relationship with Princess Anne.
  • Mr. and Winnie Christmas, the parents of Lee Christmas.
  • Lee Christmas, one of the Christmas brother's and cellmate of Prince Charles. Brother to Craig, Wayne, Darren, Barry, Mario and Engelbert.
  • Mandy Carter, mother of Shadow and neighbour of Diana.
  • Shadow Carter, Mandy's son.

The Pack[edit]

  • King, the pack leader. Mandy Carter's Alsatian, who is killed by a van delivering Pot Noodles to Food-U-R.
    Raver, the deputy leader.
  • Kylie, the pack 'bitch'. A collie dog that becomes pregnant by Harris.
  • Lovejoy, Mick and Duffy, regular members.


  • Detective Inspector Denton Holyland, the policeman in charge at Hell Close.
  • Police Constable Isaiah Ludlow, the policeman who took Prince Charles, Beverley Threadgold and Violet Toby to Court.
  • Trish McPherson, the social worker at Hell Close.
  • David Dorken, the man from the DSS.
  • Victor Berryman, owner of the local 'Food-U-R' supermarket.
  • Mrs. Berryman, Victor's agoraphobic wife.
  • Mrs. Maundy, one of the two cashiers at Food-U-R.
  • Mrs. Butterworth, a member of the Young Mother's Association that visited 10 Downing Street.
  • Eric Tremaine, the founder member of the B.O.M.B (Bring Back Our Monarchy) foundation.
  • Lobelia Tremaine, his wife.
  • Barry, the Hell Close milkman.
  • Sakeyo, the Japanese Princess who marries Prince Edward at the end.
  • Fat Oswald, one of Charles's prison cellmates.
  • Carlton Moses, another of Charles's cellmates, who allegedly sold his grandmother for a car.
  • Gordon Fossdyke, the prison Governor.
  • Mr. Pike, Charles's prison escort to the Queen Mother's funeral.