|Followed by||Queen Camilla|
The Queen and I is a 1992 novel and play written by Sue Townsend, a fictional best-selling political satire revolving round the topic of republicanism in the United Kingdom.
The novel begins in 1992, set just after the general election of the same year, where the House of Windsor has just been deprived of its royal status by the People's Republican Party, and its members made to live like normal citizens.
After a People's Republican Party government is elected by the British people, who were influenced by subliminal messages sent through their TV sets by members of the television technicians' union manipulated by Jack Barker, the Royal Family has to leave Buckingham Palace and must move to a council estate. Barker, as the new Prime Minister, transforms Britain into a republic and dismantles the monarchy.
In Hellebore Close (aptly known as "Hell Close" to its longtime residents), the new home of the Royal Family, they learn to cope with the normal day of ordinary people. The Queen – now called Mrs. Windsor – is not allowed to take all her beloved corgis to her new home in "Hell Close", with only Harris with her, and Charles learning that horses cannot be kept in a council house garden.
The Queen is visited by a social worker, but refuses to let her in. She learns how to use a zip and buttons, and that five hours of waiting to see a doctor in an ordinary hospital is not unusual when she injures herself opening a can of canned beef; Princess Margaret mistakes the injured Queen for a dead one and believes they're all going to be killed. The Queen learns that living on a small pensioner's income is difficult, and that she must organise her budget to fit.
Nonetheless, the Queen quickly learns to cope with the situation, and later does not wish to return to Buckingham Palace due to the duties that would await her there, should she return to her former royal status.
Her husband, Prince Philip, conversely struggles with the situation, refusing to eat, share a bed with his wife, and wishing that he were anywhere but in Hellebore Close.
Charles, former Prince of Wales, discovers his great love for gardening. While he and his wife Diana, Princess of Wales, begin affairs with their neighbours, their children, William and Harry, do not recognise the situation they are in, thinking the whole thing to be an adventure.
Later, Charles is imprisoned and sentenced for attacking a police officer, a crime he did not actually commit. His sister, Princess Anne takes up with a local handyman. Prince Andrew, Duke of York, is briefly mentioned to be serving aboard a Royal Navy submarine under the Arctic ice cap.
Their neighbours, who are at first sceptical, eventually include the ex-royal family in their community, and help them as much as their own circumstances allow. Although the Queen Mother is the oldest of the ex-royals, she learns very fast how to cope with the new situation, but even in the poor circumstances of Hellebore Close, cannot stop herself from betting on horses. Her death shakes the whole neighbourhood and everyone takes part in her cheap but solemn funeral. A disgruntled fishmonger and his wife start a campaign to "Bring Our Monarch Back", under the acronym 'B.O.M.B'.
Jack Barker and his so-called "Kitchen Cabinet" make election promises to voters that would cause great expense, such as promising to raise pensions and renew schools, and soon get into trouble with foreign creditors. After talks with the Japanese Emperor, Barker announces that Britain is to become part of the Japanese Empire, with himself as Governor General. In return, all repayments to Japan are suspended indefinitely. This agreement is sealed by the marriage of the Emperor's daughter Sayako to Edward, the Queen's youngest son.
It is then revealed that the whole story was a nightmare. The Queen wakes to find that the Conservatives have won the election instead, as indeed actually happened, and John Major has remained Prime Minister.
In 2006, a sequel, Queen Camilla, was published. The novel ignores the revelation that Hellebore Close was all a dream, and depicts the royal family as still living there, with Jack Barker still in power.
In 2018, the book was adapted as a Christmas special on Sky One.