It was remarkably warm, even though they were in Madrid usually february temperatures would be quite a bit cooler. Today was different. As if the weather itself turned to acknowledge the day. As if the sun kneeled before the new reigning Queen. Of course Alba had been Queen of Portugal for a decade already and for two years of Spain and her colonies. However today her 18th birthday was especially special. Today her regency was to end and she would be in charge of her countries.
As she looked in the mirror she felt incredibly small. Alba was incredibly anxious and shy. Until today she had been in a distant palace, kept company by her family, staff and friends. But not the politicians, the people and worst the press. All things considered her childhood had been fairly normal. If she could trade places with any random person on the street she probably would. A knock on the door pulled her from her thoughts.
“Please don’t come in, I’m not ready” She wasn’t lying, her anxiety had made her unsure of even what to wear. A guard or servant seeing her in her underwear didn’t exactly seem the best way to start her rulership.
“Alba, darling, it’s me” The voice was of her mother, the person who had run the country while she was growing up. Her mother was a commoner from Italy but she had grown into her role quickly and knew more about royalty than any other blue blood in Europe. She certainly was more of a Queen than Alba would ever be.
“Come in” Alba responded before her mother walked inside and swiftly closed the door behind her.
“Oh darling, are your nerves getting to you again?” Her mother asked while she walked to the young Queen.
“What if they don’t respond well to me mother? They are all so smart and old. What do I have to add?”
Her mother cupped Alba’s face with one hand and stroked her hair with the other. “You are their Queen darling. You may not have their experience or the exact knowledge but you are an incredibly smart young woman. You were born to rule and you are a born leader. No one expects you to know everything. I don’t, your father didn’t, no ruler ever did. Do you think the Athenian Empress knows everything? Or the French Queen? Hell the Germans just ended their Empire before it even started. You’ll probably make mistakes to but as long as you remember to serve your people you will be a great Queen. I know you care for your people.” She said before giving her a kiss on her forehead. “And, pick something blue. The colour suits you. I’ll tell the Councils of Ministers you are coming down in 60 minutes. Make sure you do.”
Alba smiled as her mother walked away again. The words helped, a lot. Her mother’s words always did.
As the young Queen walked down the stairs and into the throne room she could feel her heart racing. She had been here once before, when she was coronated as Queen of Spain two years earlier. The ceremony today was less grand but there were no fewer people as then. On the front row were the Councils of Ministers of Spain and Portugal as well as her mother and sisters. The rows behind them were nobility from the two Kingdoms and Morocco to be followed by parliamentarians and finally special guests such as press, retired politicians and celebrities.
As she sat down in the throne facing the people she tried her hardest to recite her speech in her head. She had defied protocol insisting to write it herself. Alba liked doing things herself. Whether it was writing speeches, getting dressed or doing her make-up. It made her feel connected to normal people.
“Ministers, my Lords and Ladies, Members of Parliament and other guests. Today, my 18th birthday, in line with our Laws and the will of God I do hereby declare my regency ended and assume active rule over my Kingdoms. The Kingdom of Spain and the Kingdom of Portugal have a long history, after centuries of division we are unified once and for all. The Iberian Union is more than a coincidence, it is the unity of people. Together we stand strong. Our world is a volatile one. We need to look no further than our own continent where Germans, Greeks and Poles are once again at war. I promise you peace. I promise you prosperity. As we once pioneered the discovery of the new world, we will now pioneer the discovery of new worlds. Where once war dominated the world, we will seek peace and cooperation. With our European neighbours and beyond. I have much to learn still and in the upcoming days, weeks and months I will depend on many of you. I thank you all for your trust and loyalty and promise you that I will lead this Union to greater heights than even my most famous predecessors could imagine.”
“Glória à União! Glória à Rainha Alba!” The guests, staff and Royal Guard yelled in unison as the speech ended and her reign truly began.