After a whirlwind of a week, Beatrice had her first public address to the nation as queen. She hadn't written the speech herself, but she had overseen it, read over it.
It was proper. Traditional. Perfect. Everything she was supposed to be.
The speech talked about loyalty and patriotism, two qualities that Beatrice had never felt less confident in.
She hadn't known loyalty, until she met Connor.
It was at moment like this that Beatrice wished she was more like her sister Samantha. Outgoing, but not afraid to speak her mind. Beatrice had been conditioned to never speak her mind, to always do what was best for the country. To follow tradition.
Not for the first time that week, Beatrice found herself hating tradition.
What if I didn't become queen?
Beatrice's own words echoed in her mind, haunting her. The last words she had ever said to her father.
the time will come when you have to choose between yourself and America. Choose America.
Someone squeezed her hand, bringing her back to reality.
Her chief advisor. Her sister. And for the first time in a long time, her friend.
"I can't do this." Beatrice whispered. "I'm not ready."
"You'll never be ready." Samantha gave her a smile before pushing her onstage. "But you have to do this."
Beatrice walked to a podium, her heels clicking against the floor. She adjusted the microphone, and took a deep breath, straightening out her paper.
In the audience, thousands of unfamiliar faces were staring at her, waiting for her to speak. Beatrice had never been afraid of public speaking, but she found herself at a loss for words.
A quick glance to the side of the stage gave her a view of Sam, giving her a thumbs up.
She had to do this.
"When I was a young girl, my father used to tell me, Beatrice, one day, you will lead this nation. I never thought it would be so soon." She let a single tear fall down her face, before she continued.
"I am not my father, but I-" Beatrice blinked, and ripped her pre-prepared speech in half.
From the wings, Sam raised her eyebrows, a face that said, "what are you doing?"
For once, Beatrice felt calm. She gave Sam the slightest nod. "Trust me."
"I am not my father. The very fact that I am standing here today, instead of my brother shows how much we as a nation have progressed." Beatrice looked out at the crowd. "I used to think, that in order to keep the Nation running smoothly, we had to follow the traditions of our founding fathers, but we don't. This is not the same America that it was 200 years ago."
The crowd started to mumble.
"My father wanted me to marry nobility, to produce a worthy heir, but what makes one person more worthy than another? Status? Title? Our country was formed on the principles of equality and revolution. George Washington was not a noble man, he was just willing to fight for what he believed in. And now, it's my turn."
"You may have heard that I was engaged to Theodore Eaton, but what you don't know is that I did not wish to be. He is a kind man, but he is not the one I love. It was arranged, fabricated by my parents, to keep the family line going. Theo actually fell in love with my sister first. She's the one he should marry, not me."
Sam was giving her a panicked look.
"I am in love with someone else. Someone that my father would never approve of. Someone the public will not approve of. But there is nothing more powerful than love. That is why I am choosing to abdicate the throne." Beatrice couldn't see Connor, but she knew he was there. She still had the permanent marker ring around her finger.
The audience gasped. Sam froze.
"This is an era of change, and America needs a leader who is not afraid to change with it." Beatrice smiled at her sister. "Samantha has never been as traditional as me. But believe me, she will make a great queen, or however she approaches leadership. I will be by her side, as an advisor, for whatever she chooses to do. I think she should address the Nation."
Samantha slowly walked on stage, holding Theo's hand for support. "Hello. When Beatrice spoke to me about this yesterday, I thought it was a hypothetical scenario. She let me talk on and on, about ideas that would have absolutely horrified my father. I didn't think she was taking me seriously. I didn't think she would abdicate the throne. I never imagined myself standing up here."
"My whole life, I've been the spare. The second born, the backup. I was never supposed to become queen. I still don't think I should."
From the audience, there was a soft cheer. "Whooo! King Jefferson."
Sam cleared her throat. "That does not mean that I will be passing the responsibility onto my brother. Beatrice mentioned an era of change, and I would like to foster that. America was created because of a rebellion against the British Monarchy. I think it's time we get rid of the American Monarchy. Having one family lead a nation may be traditional, but like my sister said, we are not traditional Washingtons. I've drafted a new system, and I would like the people's input. Instead of the outdated system of monarchy, I am proposing a new system, a democratic one, where citizens elect officials to serve a limited term. A system where leaders are chosen by merit, not by blood. "
The audience stared, an awkward silence.
"It has never been done before, but that does not mean that it can't be done. For a nation built on the principle that all men are created equal, we haven't done a great job of showing that. It's time to change that. I may be your new queen, but with this system, in four years, the Nation will hold an election, so a good leader can be chosen."
"Anyone can campaign to be the new President, the head of state." Sam chuckled. "But personally, I will be stepping back, after four years."