View Full Version : Audience with a King

01-09-2015, 06:05 PM
I'll get right to it. How easy would it be for a commoner to meet with a foreign king? Who would he speak to at the castle about meeting the king and what would the process be?

Just a little context, the king made something happen to have this person want to meet with him, so the king is expecting this person to show up eventually but he didn't want to summon the commoner outright for secrecy sake.

Thanks in advance for the help.


01-09-2015, 06:15 PM
I'm assuming this is in a fantasy kingdom of your own making, so you can also make up the rules. Perhaps once a year/once a month/every third Tuesday the king holds an open audience to hear grievances/pass judgment/cure scrofula by touching the peasantry. It's your world, so whatever makes sense in it will work.

As far as who the commoner would contact to arrange the audience, it could be as varied as a haughty chamberlain, a courtier seeking to curry favor, the king's barber, a grizzled old soldier who saved the king's life in battle, the king's saucy young mistress, etc. Again, whatever works within the context of your world...

01-09-2015, 06:16 PM
Is it possible for the King to dress up or disguise himself as a common person and then meet your character in a clandestine location? I feel like that might make more sense. Also, why are they meeting?

I have similar situations in my WIP where both the King and Queen meet people in their lower station, but couldn't let anyone know. In one case, the King dressed up as one of his messengers to commit murder and to flee from the palace. Dressed as one of his messengers, he's able to leave his kingdom without anyone noticing and visit another which is well known for its opiate dens and high criminal activity. It is there he meets with his lover.

The queen, on the other hand, employs a well-known assassin and all around thug to get rid of the King and his mistress. Her handmaiden (a former orphan and con artist) sneaks the man in through secret tunnels leading to religious rooms that have gone unused. There the Queen meets with him as she prays.

I mean it's Fantasy, so you can always create a world where it's possible to have the King meet whomever he wants however he wants as long as it makes sense for your story.

01-09-2015, 06:20 PM
That totally depends on how things are set up in the world. Modern rulers have tons of layers between themselves and their people (usually for security reasons). But in the past, (as recently as the 1800's), rulers went out and about their people with little or no protection.

But it also depends on how the king is regarded. Ancient Egyptian kings were gods as well as kings, so they had an entire priesthood around them, so speaking to the king would be more ritualized. Chinese emperors were sacred and lived completely separate from everyone in the Forbidden City. Irish and Norse kings were elected by their people and had no special palace separate from the rest of the city. Different cultures treat rulers differently throughout human history, so don't get mired in what is real today.

Think about the culture in your world. Think about the king wanting this individual to be able to get to him, thus would make it more possible. Figure out something cool and interesting that showcases your world. Do that, and you'll make a cool place that people will want to read more of.

01-09-2015, 06:45 PM
Thanks, all. That helped a lot. :)

I'm always a fan of making up my own rules in the world, I just didn't want to do something that would strain the reader's suspension of belief, even in a fantasy setting. But since there are so many various ways a king can interact with his subjects, I'll just design a protocols that suit the culture I've created.



01-09-2015, 07:24 PM
If the main problem is secrecy, your commoner might slip a bribe to one of the guards to take a message to the king. Then they could proceed to set up the meeting using the guard as intermediary.

If the king *wants* the meeting, the status of the commoner is less critical.

Also, note that our modern ideas of security are fairly new. English monarchs of times past were used to people of all sorts roaming through their palaces.

01-09-2015, 10:58 PM
Many kings were very mobile and visible within their capitals. Maybe your king goes for daily walks through the markets (with guards, of course). This gives him plenty of chances to be approached by peddlers and merchants. Maybe your commoner could approach the king disguised as a merchant and they could exchange secret notes while they appear to be haggling over melons. Something like that.

01-10-2015, 01:18 AM
Depending on the king's character, he could also meet commoners when he performs public acts of charity. He could be like Louis IX and serve a meal to groups of paupers on regular occasions.

01-10-2015, 02:02 AM
I was going to say that if the foreigner is exotic enough, the royals would want to meet them. When Columbus brought back natives of North America, they met Queen Isabella because she was fascinated.

But then I actually read your post. Oops, zero relevance to the conversation. :)

If the commoner could come up with a message for the king that is cryptic-yet-alarming, then it would be passed along to the king only because no one would want to take the chance of being the person who got in the way of something important, i.e. if it's scary, they'd pass the buck. And if the message was worded in such a way the king knew who had sent it, even if no one else did, then he'd grant the audience.

Layla Nahar
01-11-2015, 05:05 AM
Or if the king is expecting the person, perhaps he'll be doing something to filter such a person in, like having some kind of contest. In fairy tales there are stories where if you did x or y, you could marry the kings daughter. You could use that as a model, but something more appropriate to your situation.

01-11-2015, 02:10 PM
So much depends on the period and the context. A modern monarch works in a very different way to a monarch from Tudor times or an Anglo Saxon king or Aragorn...

But let's try to imagine a generic King in a generic castle.

As a general rule, a king would be surrounded by dozens of flunkies in varying degrees of flunkiness. He would have maids and butlers. In the more extreme cases, a King would do nothing for himself, even getting himself dressed. He would have no end of advisers, servants, and so on.

If the king wanted to meet a commoner, the King would ask one of his trusted advisers to send for the commoner. If this has to be done in secret, the trusted adviser would bring the commoner into the castle as one of the tradesmen. Castles are fairly busy places with servants moving in and out during the day.

If a commoner wants to see a king without an invitation? Then he would need to ask an intermediary to request an audience with the king. The worst case scenario would be to ask one of castle guards, but it would be more successful if your commoner asked one of the king's advisers.

01-11-2015, 04:14 PM
In many places kings took audiences with people as part of their regular routine, and pretty much anyone could come. I know this was common in the middle east and parts of Asia. It wasn't even unusual for people to ask the king for a favor or a loan. Most kings had a vested interest in portraying themselves as generous and magnanimous, so even if they didn't give a crap about common folk, they'd still make a show of it for appearances, and maybe have their scribes keep a list of their awesome good deeds. One wealthy sultan would even make piles of all the gifts he received and allow common folk to dig through them and take what they wanted.

01-13-2015, 06:08 PM
Thanks for the all the help guys!

I've adjusted my scene and I'm pretty happy with it now. The issue wasn't world-shattering, but it did play off my ongoing theme of deception and manipulation. Basically the commoner is a thief that was hard to track down, so the king manipulated a situation that would cause the thief to seek him out, thus indirectly summoning said thief.

I just wanted to know how difficult it would be for the thief to get to the king upon arrival in the city, but since I can just make up my own rules (thanks to your input) I've done so and am happy with the result.