Saturday was my first Crown Tourney in a while. I had missed serving as a list herald, which is as combat-adjacent as I get using my particular skillset (i.e., my voice). It was a busy event, albeit a cold one (thank you, Suba, for the loan of your pink gloves partway through the event, for which I received many fashion compliments!).
I was grateful to get up to Crown again, and to have Jessa with me, the cold notwithstanding. We had more than our usual level of interest in the tournament: our friend Master Alberic von Rostock and Duke Magnus Tindal, both currently of our adoptive home of Concordia, had agreed to fight for each other this fall.
We learned about this last month, when we were on vacation at Disney World with Alberic and his wife, Cassair Ni Deorain, who has been a close friend for years. I hadn’t spent as much time with Alberic, but that trip was a welcome chance to get to know him better, as he is a warm, soft-spoken, thoughtful, and funny man. Cassair for her part is already very involved in the current reign as Queen Margarita’s event coordinator, so the possibility of Alberic becoming royalty sounded fascinating, if maybe a little complicated for them.
Tindal I know only casually to this point, but remember him as a gracious guest in the Eastern court during his reigns as King of Æthelmearc, and ever since he moved to the East a few years back I have been watching for him to enter an Eastern Crown Tourney. He is, by all accounts, well-loved and respected in his former kingdom (and indeed, like our Queen Margarita, he came to the East most recently from Æthelmearc, but started in the SCA as a subject of Atlantia), and has embraced our kingdom and brought blessing to it, serving as Warlord at Pennsic and being a resource at fighting practices. I’m no expert at ranking fighters, but I would never put my money against a Duke, particularly if he’s been training heavily. We figured he and Alberic had excellent odds.
And it was so. The East Kingdom has its first ever pair of Crown Princes. It’s particularly exciting given the SCA’s Board of Directors recently updated its language about Crown Consorts to read: Each competitor in a Royal List must be fighting for a designated consort, without discrimination based on race, gender, religion, national origin, or disability. (It had previously read: …must be fighting for a prospective consort of the opposite sex unless the Crown has elected to permit a competitor to fight for a prospective consort of the same sex. This was an overdue change.) The new Princes are not a couple (and it’s not uncommon for combatants to fight for friends rather than romantic partners), but it’s still a significant shift from the status quo. And I have a number of friends in the LGBTQIA community who were greatly heartened to see Tindal wearing his massive rainbow pride necklace.
The tournament itself was glorious. Each time I participate, I learn more about the mechanics, the importance of all the staff and participants. (Quick shout out to Lucien de Wyntere and all the staff, list heralds and runners, including my list runner, Caleb, for fine work.) I also was more aware of the careful communication between combatants as they let each other know when blows were light or off angle, and the acknowledgement on the part of the person who threw the blow. Duke Randall, facing Tindal in one of the late pre-final rounds, was being cheered for landing a kill that Tindal had accepted as good, when he insisted the blow wasn’t good enough to count. They re-fought the bout, and this time Tindal prevailed. That sense of sporting honor made me the happier that Randall made it through to face Tindal in the finals. Everyone involved showed their dedication to a clean, scrupulously fair fight, and that every combatant on the losing end of a bout concurred that the result was valid.
All that said, I had another reason for wanting to attend, and serve, at Crown this fall. In the wake of our kingdom’s recent tragedy, I have been moved and inspired watching Margarita stand in her grace and power as solo Queen. In every picture of her, in every post she has made, I’ve seen only delight, radiance, and encouragement for everyone in the kingdom and the Society to come and enjoy fellowship at each event. I was looking forward to experiencing it in person.
And she did not disappoint. She is the same brilliant, ebullient woman I came to know at Roses back in May, and the same powerful, inspiring speaker I heard when she was crowned at Coronation. If anything, more so: she is in no one’s shadow, requires no one’s leave for any decision that needs to be made, and clearly embraces the office in service to her kingdom. Ready with a hug, a hand squeeze, a giggle, a word of affirmation, every time she was in my field of view. At court, she once again brought the poise, projection, and passion of a bard to every announcement, every award bestowed, and carried it all with a lightness that left me awestruck. I feel it throughout the kingdom, and among visitors from outside.
One of my
out-of-kingdom friends, Dicea, said it perfectly: “The Queen of the East is a Rockstar.” Oh, yes, she is. She is protecting, defending, and serving all of us, and to a person, I see a kingdom ready to do the same for her. I’ll do my part.
[CORRECTION: Dicea told me they are EK. I know them through Jess and only ever see them at Pennsic, and know them as part of her Æthelmearc family. My bad.]