On the same day that Mariabelle was to leave for her estate, the Marquisate de Berkeley received another invitation to a tea party.

However, this time, the invitation was stamped with the queen's seal. Not quite an imperial decree, but close to it.

As expected, Mariabelle couldn't ignore the invitation, so she lifted her heavy back and headed for the royal palace.

When she arrived, she was taken to the inner palace. It was a private area close to the royal family's residence.

The queen was already waiting at a table prepared in the courtyard. The place was filled with seasonal flowers which were in full bloom, a soft light that was just right for an outdoor tea ceremony, and no wind.

The queen, who still had the girlish charm that had caught the king's eye, at first sight, smiled at Mariabelle as usual.

A warm smile, the same as when she was Edward's fiancée.

Mariabelle bowed her head deeply and raised the edge of her lips, returning the same smile.

After taking her seat, Mariabelle continued to have a harmless conversation with the queen.

Neither of them mentioned Edward or Annette.

Just as Mariabelle was about to end the fruitless conversation, she heard a commotion at the entrance to the courtyard.

When she turned around, she saw Edward and Annette standing there.

Edward was still smiling elegantly, and Annette, wearing a light blue dress that matched the color of Edward's eyes, was clinging to him as he escorted her to the courtyard.

Mariabelle's thoughts alternated between 'why is she here', and 'I knew it'.

"Since Edward and the others are here too, why don't they join us for tea?"

The queen was feigning coincidence, but it was clear that this was a planned meeting.

James told Mariabelle that Annette's education as the crown princess hadn't progressed at all.

Until recently, she was a commoner. It can't be helped.

And she is being compared to Mariabelle, who is called the perfect lady, no matter what she does, so she seems to be losing her motivation every time.

But she knew that from the beginning, so it had nothing to do with Mariabelle.

"Mother, I will take your word for it and accompany you. Mari... Oh, no, Lady Berkeley, is that okay with you?"

There was no way she could refuse when asked that by the crown prince.

Mariabelle put on a smile and replied, "Please, go ahead."

Edward escorted Annette and pulled out a chair for her.

An aristocratic girl would sit down without making a sound, but Annette, who was not yet accustomed to sitting in a chair, made a slight noise.

Edward smiled softly at Annette, who seemed to be thinking about her mistake.

"She is not used to it yet, so it can't be helped. She will learn manners from now on. Isn't that right, Mother?"

"Yes, her education has only just begun," said the queen, but she wasn't satisfied with Annette's manners.

During her long education as crown princess, Mariabelle had learned that a slightly raised eyebrow on her face was a sign of unhappiness.

"I have official business to attend to, so I will leave you first. Enjoy your stay."

With that, the queen left the courtyard without waiting for a reply.

I had heard that the queen had accepted Annette as her son's new fiancée, but I wonder if that is actually the case.

Mariabelle was indeed taken aback, but Edward's voice brought her back to her senses.

"Mari... Lady Berkeley, it's been a long time."


I should have left with the queen...

The timing was not right, so Mariabelle had no choice but to sip the newly brewed tea.

"You never met Annette before, right? Annette, this is Lady Mariabelle from the Marquisate of Berkeley. She's a childhood friend of mine, so if there's anything you don't understand, you can ask her."

She wasn't just a childhood friend, but his fiancée, but to Edward, he probably only thought of her as a childhood friend.

And even if she was going to teach her, Mariabelle had already refused to be Annette's tutor. She had no obligation to teach her anything.

However, Edward, with his good nature, seemed to believe that Mariabelle was willing to help Annette.

He showed no consideration for Mariabelle's feelings, whose engagement had been broken off.

Perhaps because Edward was spoiled as the only prince, he was not sensitive to other people's feelings.

In this place, his surrounding subjects and I were able to support him before, but I wonder if Annette, who had been a commoner, could support Edward and his subjects.

The position of the queen is a very important one. Even Mariabelle, who had been given an aristocratic education as a queen from an early age, felt the weight of this responsibility.

Therefore, Edward should have made Mariabelle his queen and Annette his concubine.

As expected, it would be difficult to do so immediately after marrying Mariabelle, but as long as the heir to the throne is born safely, there would be no problem.

The current king had only taken a queen, but many kings before had favored a concubine.

However, Edward wanted Annette to be his queen.

Mariabelle's determination to be queen was shattered in the face of true love.