“He’s obviously mad. Something must be done”, declared Princess Matilda to her son John. “If he continues to carry on in this way, he’ll get us all lynched, not just himself.”“You heard about the riot then?” replied her son. “What was he doing there anyway?” she asked.
“The Council were happy enough when he told us that he intended to visit and look into the management of some of the Royal estates in Kent. We thought he was beginning to take things seriously,” said John. However, it seems that after a cursory visit to a few places, he took to burrowing in some long abandoned mine workings. No one can explain why. Maybe the madness is intermittent, like that of George III. He’s not always mad; he even asked some quite sharp and pointed questions at the last Council meeting when that old fool Smithers was trying to explain his budget proposals. Somehow he got into dispute with a group of locals; perhaps they were bandits using the area as a hideout. I don’t think they knew who he was at first, but they saw a gentleman toiling amongst a group of more common people at a pointless task of excavation in an exhausted mine, and they mocked him. When they knew who he was, they mocked all the more. That’s how the fight started. He took a few bruises but his men had the better of the mockers, who departed dragging their injured and vowing vengeance and rebellion. Now Sheriff Bates has the task of tracking them down and hanging them, without enough men to maintain order in the rest of the county, and without sparking another uprising. He is not happy. One good thing seems to have come out of it though. Richard is now training very hard, and practising wrestling and the use of weapons every day with the Guard. They tell me he is becoming quite a good fighter. He’s courageous and determined. They like him.” After a moment John added, “He won’t be easy to put down.”
“Hmmph,” sniffed Matilda. “He’s also become an apprentice blacksmith I hear. Perhaps he’ll be better at that than at being King. It’s not just that it’s bad for the country when its King is a fool to be mocked by every low fellow, its mortifying for us, his relatives, to be associated with him and be laughed at or pitied by the people we meet. Yesterday Cecily was quite condescending in her sympathy to me on Richard’s sad state.” She added, apparently irrelevantly, “He spends all his time with labourers and guardsmen nowadays, and never seems to be interested in meeting any nice girls. I wonder is he… normal? ”