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"We Three Kings: Royal Portrait of Charles Ia, Ib & Ic"

Tony van Duck

The ascension of Charles I, et alia., to the English throne in 1625 marked the first time that three identical triplets had ever held the throne of a modern state, an event which caused no end of confusion in Britain and abroad. Although identical in appearance they held quite different political beliefs, Charles Ia being a constitutional despot, Charles Ib a middle-of-the road monarchist and Charles Ic the monarchical figurehead of a parliamentary state.

After the initial argument over whose crown was better (settled by a game of tag-team keep-away), the Regal Trio immediately decided to declare war on someone to distract the populace from the fact that the coronation ceremony had been three times as expensive as all previous coronations. Charles Ia wanted to attack France for tradition's sake. Charles Ib wanted to make peace with France but attack the Papal States. Charles Ic wanted to invade Sweden so he could learn to ski and meet some foxy blonde snow bunnies. They compromised by invading northern Belgium in the wintertime, leading to the infamous Battle of Ulp, where the English kings' armies were soundly trounced by the Belgs and forced to surrender a couple of castles and things.

The painting of the royal portrait was the occasion of another regal rumpus, as Charles Ia thought his right side was his best feature, Charles Ib his left, and Charles Ic held out for full frontal nudity. The painter van Duck spent over 4 years getting the portraits done to their majestys' approval, during which time he was hospitalized several times at Bedlam for acute frustration combined with regicidal mania. Once the triple portrait was finished and approved, the artist got his revenge by painting silly beards and moustaches on each of them the night before the unveiling of the portrait. He ended his days on the rack at Broadmoor prison.

The Charleses did not long survive the death of van Duck, overthrown as they were in a palace coup led by their trusted adviser, the Cardinals Peekapoo i, ii & iii. Oliver Cromwell eventually ended the whole double triplets problem with his infamous "six chop" execution in front of the Banqueting House at Whitehall Palace. Six Chops over Whitehall later became a popular tourist attraction and restaurant.


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