An open letter to the Queen

May, 3, 2007
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Dear Queen of England,

Welcome to the United States of America.

I was wondering if on Saturday during the preliminary races before the Kentucky Derby you might stop by our set and work with me. There's no way it'll take longer than five minutes, I promise.

Let me warn you: Derby Day is nuts. The betting lines are longer than a queue to tour Big Ben, so make sure to do your homework the night before. I'm guessing you have somebody to run your betting anyway, or maybe you're going to use your phone account with Ladbroke's. Anyway, just a word to the wise. I wouldn't want you to come over and do the interview only to end up having to wait in some long line and potentially miss the chance to hammer a horse you really like.

This story probably didn't make it across the pond, but in first grade I was a King. Several times. Mrs. Johnson used to hold these contests, both in spelling and math. Whoever won the elimination-style competition got to wear a paper crown on their head the rest of the day. I usually cleaned up when it came to the words but Mike Nelson was a warrior in the math department. The kid was doing long division by second grade, go figure.

Anyway, a few years ago (they all roll together, just like at Royal Ascot) the owner of the New York Yankees, George Steinbrenner, owned an animal named Bellamy Road. That colt was supposed to win by daylight but Mr. Steinbrenner (we call him "The Boss," which over here is Royalty, more or less) was nervous about jinxing his horse so he had declined all interviews. The girl who comes every year to help out and make coffee (and I mean good coffee, like the kind Sam Jackson was drinking in the kitchen in Pulp Fiction, not freeze dried coffee) asked me if I could get The Boss to sign something for her dad. I told her I don't even think I'm getting The Boss to do an interview so I hardly expect he'll sign anything for your old man. I didn't really say "old man" but it sure reads well right here, no? So what happened is the coffee girl went and got the autograph herself. Then she came back and bragged about how The Boss had signed a bunch of stuff and how nice he was. I told her to march her ass back inside the fancy-people area (same place you'll be, Your Majesty) and bring the man out.

Not five minutes later, here comes The Boss. He was very nice to me but he didn't sign anything.

I'm not saying I'm going to send the coffee girl to get you. Her old man didn't even ask for your autograph.

What if, just to have half a plan, we commit that we're doing the interview in the 4-5 p.m. block. As much as I love Rece Davis, I don't really want him to score the interview. If I end up doing the interview, I'll be able to say that in the span of one month I interviewed Will Ferrell and the Queen of England -- that's you.

You're the Queen of England. That must be a lot of work.

We are so proud to have you at our Kentucky Derby. Everyone is talking about it. I'm even writing about it. It's a lot easier to just talk about it. My fingers hurt from typing.

I've interviewed the governor of Kentucky for three years running now. We would dump him in a minute if you agree to come on board. We can float you the questions in advance if you want and we won't do any "word association." That is so lame.

Remember that movie my daughters like in which the girl becomes a princess? She says to the queen at one point, "Shut----Up." She doesn't mean that she wants the queen to stop talking. She is using slang for "you have got to be kidding." I wouldn't do that because people would think I am being rude. I am anything but that. I'm Mr. Manners guy, especially when it comes to royalty.

Again, this is the greatest thing since Petra came to the Derby a few years ago. The outfit.

If you want any tips, I'm Mr. Tip guy.

I'm coming to Royal Ascot this summer. It's going to be enjoyable, I'm certain.

If we don't catch up on Saturday, then we can make half a plan for an audience at Royal Ascot instead.

I'm not kidding when I say that if I get to interview you either on Saturday or in June at Royal Ascot my friends will say, "Shut----Up!" I'm not saying that to you, not a chance. I'm saying things like "Talk for as long as it pleases you, Your Majesty."

Again, please don't do the interview with Rece Davis. When I said I love him I meant he's a good guy. He's not in my family or anything. In fact, it's pretty cutthroat at ESPN, but I'm not going to go there right now.

I think we've learned a lot about each other through this Open Letter to the Queen of England. I know I have.

Enjoy your time in the United States. I hope you at least get to meet the President of the United States. Can you believe it? He's the president of all the states, even Alaska and Hawaii and they are terribly far away. Just so you know, Alaska and Hawaii are not located off the coast of California, as many maps indicate. I know that's an old joke but if you like that kind of material, I'm just getting going.

I have to go now. It's like 10: 55 on Wednesday night. That was some draw show today, huh? They put us on ESPN2, which in the past might have been considered a letdown. The thing is, ESPN2 had just about the same reach as ESPN regular, so it doesn't bother me, no sir. Your Majesty I mean.

I think about the only place that doesn't get ESPN2 is North Dakota. But if it's the Mount Rushmore thing with the presidents you want to see you should go to South Dakota. I don't know your schedule. It's funny how your subjects say "schezd-ule," know what I mean? It's probably not as funny to you and I'm not making fun of you or any people from your country or any of the countries that are still sort of your countries. If I'm not mistaken, I think Canada is still one of those. I like Canadian people. Barry Melrose is probably my favorite. He's a huge hockey guy, probably in the same way people would say Prince Harry is a huge cricket guy, if he is.

If you are not available we'd settle for Prince Harry or any other of the princes who are on the trip. We'd take anybody, really. But that's not to say we don't want you. You're definitely our No. 1 choice. Remember, under no circumstance should you do the interview with Rece Davis. I can't stand Rece Davis. He's always stealing my best interview people. So don't fall for that, even with his charming southern accent. I'm from Seattle, which is almost Canada. In fact, a long time ago they had this argument over the border out there in the Pacific Northwest. I have forgotten all the details.

No wonder Mike Nelson always got to wear the crown when Mrs. Johnson tested us on history.

You're going to laugh at this, but they have a race called the Crown Royal race, I think. That's alcohol and I don't drink except a bottle of wine with my wife, but hardly ever. It doesn't do much for me. They say a glass of wine is good for you. Maybe I should have one glass of wine at night, but that's it, that's the limit.

Hope to see you on Saturday. If not, can you ask the Royal Exchequer of something to stop by? I don't know how to spell Exchequer very well, but I gave it a good shot.

My attempt is sort of like how my daughter Annie writes in her kindergarten journal for Ms. Herlihy's class. It's a great idea, to just write. The spelling and structure will sort itself out eventually, don't you think?

If my daughter had written this it would have been way shorter, but they are paying me $2 per word. Can you believe that? What a bunch of idiots. No way are the people who pay me that much for this nonsense getting anywhere near the TV set when you swing by. One more thing, can you not bring a lot of people when you come? We're trying to limit the number of people hanging out around the set, so Hank Goldberg can concentrate on his trifecta plays.

But back to my daughter. She is a princess as is her sister, Riley, and their mom, Laura. They are my princesses and queen, though totally unofficially. There is no way we're saying they are as big a deal as you, but they are everything to me. So when you put it that way, they are the biggest deal to me, no offense, Your Majesty.

Here's how Annie's letter to you might have read. Again, remember, she often does her writing in a hurry because "Hannah Montana" might be on the TV set.

Here's her letter (she didn't really write this. I'm just saying)

Deer The Quene Englind,

Can yuo plez pleez com to my dadddys t.v. set to tak wiht him abut horsses? he pikct Ivnvasore at tha breeding cup last time mommy knoes he bet on aminals. my dad mist myie t bll ball gam . pleeze hav him com home.

love, annie

I'm not trying to use my child as a prop. I just thought you'd sort of think that's cool. I know your family is the biggest deal in the world to you. They are your royalty.

Bring all of them if you want.

But not for Rece Davis. I already warned you about him.

And the long lines.

And one last thing. Make sure they give you a special fourth-floor sticker. The security guys are tough about that stuff. You probably won't even have a problem. I'm just saying.

With great admiration and respect for the bond between our great and good nations and hoping you can stop by,

Ken Mayne/ TV set reporter/ ESPN, Worldwide Leader (but not as important as being a queen)



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