Avoiding Crisis

The recent events in the Spanish legislature were the first real challenge to Alba’s authority and how she would respond to said challenge would likely define her reign forever. If she were too mild it would send a message to especially the Spanish that they could walk over her. If however she was too harsh it would establish her rule as a tyrant. It was this balancing act that even a monarch with very little restraints to her power needed to be cautious of. The goals of today were simple. The Military Union Law had to be passed by Spain and the Queen could not be seen as being forced to approve of a law she disagreed with. To achieve this purpose a summit was prepared, one where the Queen could meet with both her Prime Ministers. Ferreyra was a friend and close ally, she would be on her side. It was Mendoza that formed the problem. To further shift the balance in her favour the summit would take place at the Mateus Palace in Portugal rather than the Royal Palace in Madrid. Officially it was to avoid the press from finding out but in reality Alba knew she had very little friends in the Royal Palace and over the past months a lot of sensitive details had been leaked. Forcing the Spanish Prime Minister onto Portuguese soil also pulled her out of her comfort zone and gave Alba a home advantage.

As Alba walked through the gardens and smelled the fresh countryside air she realized just how much she missed the palaces where she had spent her childhood. The Royal Palace in Madrid was grand and it too had beautiful gardens and peaceful spots, but the city air was widely different and constantly being on edge was far from comfortable. In a way this summit was a nice break from the usual. Rather than her usual fancy dresses Alba was wearing fairly comfortable clothes. Just a tank top and leggings. It was still Winter but the temperature down here was already comfortable enough. As she approached the table that had been prepared the sight of Mendoza uncomfortable at the nature surroundings was a pleasant one. Just the effect she had hoped for. Mendoza after all had a reputation of hating the countryside. It had almost cost her party the very important rural vote in earlier elections.

“Your Excellencies” Alba greeted them as she walked to the head of the table.

“Your Majesty” The two women, their deputies and other aides they brought along said almost in unison.

As Alba sat down she motioned for the others to do the same. “I have invited you here today to discuss the ongoing legislative situation that is holding back the very important effort of unification, but first take something to drink. It is already pretty hot after all” She said with a smile before taking a mimosa off the tray herself.

“Thank you, Your Majesty. Yes the Spanish delay in approving the law which we already discussed a month ago is very unfortunate” Aurea started. Alba knew she loved her Portuguese Prime Minister, always ready to play the bad cop.

“Unfortunately Spain must consider her national security, recent events have caused concerns over the Union commitment to Spanish national security” Roxana retorted.

“Which concerns are those, your Excellency? Did I not commit to defending the Kingdom of Spain and her people when i was crowned? Did my mother not leave you with a prosperous country rather than a disaster on the verge of economic collapse? Please do tell what could have caused questions about my commitment to the security of my largest Kingdom” Alba said, feigning ignorance.

“You know our concerns Alba. You dropped the ball with the British and now you’re blocking our efforts to fix your mess” Roxana said, starting to feel cornered.

“You do not address your Queen like that Roxana. Have some respect.” Aurea replied, stepping in before even Alba could.

“My Queen? Let’s not keep pretending here. She is a little girl who has seen nothing of the world. Her only experience with the world is the men she sneaked into her chambers when the guards weren’t looking. The tabloids didn’t call her a slut for nothing. We can keep this roleplay going but the Cabinet of Spain will address the concerns of the Spanish state. Had we sent Borrell to the meeting instead we would not only have gotten Gibraltar but we wouldn’t have even needed to promise them the world in return.”

The clear disrespect by the Spanish Prime Minister sent shockwaves through even her own supporters there. Alba for her part always knew that Mendoza didn’t like her but she didn’t think she despised her so much. She had to struggle to hold some tears back before turning to her. “If you think so little of me, Prime Minister. Why did you swear loyalty to my crown?” Alba asked.

“Because someone needs to protect Spain from the Bourbons after what your uncle did and you are bound to do. This summit is useless and these mosquitoes aren’t worth keeping up appearances. Either you approve the Gibraltar Liberation Law or the Military Union Law is getting rejected” Roxana answered as she collected her stuff and got back up.

Alba took a moment to collect her feelings but she had to be quick with the next part. It was a step she didn’t want to take but one she was ready for. “Your Excellency, sit down!” The determination behind her voice made Roxana stop for a moment and sit. “You serve at my pleasure and your service no longer pleasures me. You are fired. Furthermore for violating article 490 and 491 of the criminal code by insulting this crown you are under arrest. Guards!”

As the guards walked in and grabbed Mendoza by her arms she resisted initially but relented shortly after. The Royal Guard, all Portuguese and loyal to Alba, would take the former Prime Minister inside and detain her until she could be handed over to the police. WIth everyone on the table still shocked Alba moved on. “Deputy Prime Minister Ileana Fontana” Alba said, looking at the young woman who had been sitting next to Mendoza.

“Yes, your Majesty?” She asked, somewhat in shock.

“Do you agree with the recent statements of your former Prime Minister?” Alba asked.

Ileana shook her head. “No, your Majesty”

“Very well, then I am hereby appointing you as Prime Minister. Now we can move on to the reason we all came here.” Alba concluded before finishing her drink and taking another glass off the tray. “The Military Union Law needs to pass, however I am willing to meet you halfway on Gibraltar. The Iberian Navy will deny any military vessel from the United Kingdom access to its waters. With the Strait of Gibraltar this will effectively make it impossible for them to send any further military units to the Rock. Furthermore we will deny British passenger flights access to our airspace and impose border controls. Any weapons or dual-use technologies will be restricted and may not be sent to Gibraltar. This will reduce the military threat and simultaneously be a siege light, so that we can avoid endangering the health of wellbeing. Finally, I will instruct our ambassador to the Byzantine League to secure a League declaration recognizing Gibraltar as Spanish territory and calling upon the United Kingdom to return it. Is this to your approval?”

Ileana hesitated for a moment, she was still taken aback by her friend and boss getting arrested but it was clear that Roxana had underestimated the resolve and intelligence of Queen Alba. In the end she nodded.

“Very well, then I suggest that we close this summit and that you hurry back to Madrid to convince your coalition. Seeing as I expect we’ll need to release your predecessor in three days on bail.” Alba concluded the summit, after which the Spanish and most of the Portuguese delegation got their stuff and headed towards the parking lot in front of the palace.

As Alba walked through the gardens she heard Aurea behind her to her surprise. “Your father would be proud of you, Alba” She said warmly. Alba turned around with some tears in her eyes. “Thank you Aurea, but I didn’t want to be a Queen like that” Alba replied.

“Easy now, you don’t have to keep up a strong front for me” Aurea said as she hugged Alba. “Do you think your father never doubted about the way he ruled? And he didn’t have enemies all around him. You are such an incredibly strong young woman.”

“It’s so difficult sometimes Aurea… I can’t make a step without someone reporting it to the press or to the politicians. Everyone there is plotting. Before today I haven’t felt safe since my birthday.” Alba sobbed.

“Madrid has gotten used to ruling themselves. Your mother focused mostly on Portugal and ruled from Lisbon. Your uncle didn’t rule at all. They haven’t had a committed monarch in thirty years. Be yourself, show them who you are and surround yourself with friends. If need be from Lisbon. Eventually the Royal Palace will feel like your home. And never forget. Portugal always stands behind you, and we are good friends to have.” Aurea replied with a grin for the final part.

Alba nodded, letting go and wiping away her tears. “Thank you Aurea, I know. And I will never forget”

“Good, now let’s go back and make Madrid your bitch”