RAINBOW ROAD – Inside the peach-and-white shaded leather interior of her stretch state vehicle, the Princess is dressed in royal pink. As her armored limousine cruises down Rainbow Road, it’s nighttime in the Mushroom Kingdom. And with one week until her annual State of the Kingdom Address, Peach is hitting the road.
Although images of Princess Peach are ubiquitous throughout the Kingdom, up-close, the effect of her real presence is dizzying. Her blue eyes glow spectrally. The ancient, oval sapphire brooch pinned to her chest seems alive, humming silently with cold light. Her earrings – two perfect, sapphire spheres – float under ears. At rest, she puckers her lips in a faint, effortless smile.
Through the tinted windows, the kaleidoscopic road shimmers. Peach yawns, excusing herself politely, and looks placidly towards the long, winding prism. This week marks the start of a highly publicized tour of her kingdom, leading up to the thirtieth anniversary of her ascension to the throne.
“I belong to my people,” she explains about the tour. “And my people know that I don’t command from inside a castle.”
Under her nearly thirty years of rule, the Mushroom Kingdom has undergone a dramatic transformation, marked by the massive expansion of public infrastructure and transit systems, urbanization, the popularization of athletic competitions, and the rapid proliferation of military and police forces, the latter of which has been attributed publicly to ongoing conflicts with the neighboring Koopa Kingdom and numerous attempts on her own life, including kidnappings, ordered by the notorious King Bowser.
“I’m an actual person – not just a picture on coins and stained glass windows,” Peach says, smiling humbly. “I have just been blessed to lead.”
Although generally popular, critics of the crown call the Princess detached and manipulative – a heartless autocrat – and point to her aggressive annexation of Yoshi Island and the ongoing segregation of the kingdom’s public schools, among other controversial policies. In the past year, thousands of protesters gathered in Toad Town Square, leading to clashes with police, widespread arrests, and accusations of the systematic suppression of political dissent in the Mushroom Kingdom.
“This tour isn’t about me,” offers the Princess, idly stroking the ruby on the front of her crown. “It’s about my people, our homeland, and the future we are building together.”
Peach yawns once more, covering her mouth with a jeweled hand.
“Driver,” Peach summons.
“Yes, your majesty?”
“It has been a long day. Let’s hurry home now.”
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