Santa Montefiore Reads an Extract from The Royal Rabbits of London Transcript
Hello my name is Santa Montefiore and I’ve written this book with my husband Simon Sebag Montefiore called The Royal Rabbits of London. The illustrations are done by Kate Hindley and they’re magnificent. The book was conceived by our son Sasha. When he was six years old he couldn’t sleep one night so I asked him to think of something he loved and he said rabbits and I said ‘well, where do these rabbits live?’ And he said ‘underneath Buckingham Palace’ and I thought ‘my God, that’s the most wonderful idea for a book so I scuttled off to my husband and said ‘we have to write this book about the secret society of royal rabbits who live under Buckingham Palace and protect the Queen.’
So I’m going to read you a bit of the story now. The story is about a little rabbit called Shylo who is a weak and feeble country rabbit with an eye-patch to cure a squint who is bullied by his brothers and sisters and he hears a plot from this large clan of greasy, fat ratzis, rats, super rats, to plot against the queen so he has to find his way up to London to find the Secret Society of Rabbits who he doesn’t even know whether they exist or not.
So, at this point he has managed to find the Royal Rabbits of London and he is under Buckingham Palace and of course the Royal Rabbits are very suspicious because they don’t know who he is and they want to know how he found his way to their ground burrow.
No sooner had Clooney put down the telephone than a very large black Hopster rabbit appeared at the bottom of the staircase, followed by a squad of fierce-looking Thumpers whom Shylo imagined were the Special Forces unit of highly trained soldier rabbits. The leader was not as tall as Clooney but he was the strongest-looking rabbit that Shylo had ever seen and the whole room seemed to step aside to let him pass.
‘Morning Monsters! You called the Marshal?’ said the black Hopster in a loud, deep voice with a strong Jamaican accent. It resounded off the chandelier and echoed up the stairway. ‘Well here I am! We have a security problem? You need muscle? Sounds like a job for Zeno.’
His fur was shaved so you could see his huge muscles gleaming and bulging and rippling as he walked, and his thighs alone were wider than Shylo’s entire body. When he arrived, Clooney saluted with one ear.
‘So who’s the pirate?’ Zeno asked and Shylo shrank behind Clooney.
‘He said the old code’ Clooney informed him. ‘I had no choice but to bring him in.’
‘Rats and frogs?’ Said Zeno in surprise. He narrowed his eyes and peered at Shylo who winced. ‘And you brought him into the heart of The Grand Burrow?’
Clooney laughed. ‘You really think this poor excuse for a rabbit is going to be a threat to us?’
‘PERHAPS HE’S NOT ALONE!’ shouted Zeno with such a loud boom that it echoed twice around the chamber, which was so quiet you could have heard a dandelion drop. ‘Sounds like something Papa Ratzi would have cooked up. Are you working for Papa Ratzi? Have you brought the Ratzis into…’
‘Unless he’s a kangaroo in disguise with an army of rats in his pouch, he’s very much alone’ said Clooney calmly.
‘OK, let’s take him into the library and hear what he has to say,’ thundered the muscly rabbit. Accompanied by two large Thumpers, Clooney and Zeno, Shylo was escorted into a circular room containing a round table, twelve chairs and countless shelves of dusty old books that made Shylo think of Horatio.
‘So what have you got to tell me?’ asked Zeno.
‘I…I…I… overheard a plot against the Queen,’ Shylo declared in a small voice, then he remembered that Horatio had told him not to discuss his mission with anyone but the rabbit with two red paws. Zeno only had one.
They all bowed with their ears at the mention of the Queen.
‘Sure you did,’ said Zeno, sounding unconvinced.
‘I…I…I… did,’ Shylo squeaked.
Zeno bared his teeth.
‘What are you really here for?’
Shylo cowered in fear. He wanted to make himself so small as to disappear all together.