January 25
Sir Artan macAilin and Mistress Aziza al-Kashani, Pelicans
Two Pelicans who've been royalty repeatedly can help you understand some of what goes into being king and queen
Guest Fest, al-Barran
Meet People and Learn Things

Artan & Aziza answered a list of questions submitted in advance by al-Barranians, at Guest Fest on January 25, 2007. A summary of those answers is below. They're not full or necessarily exact quotes (although many phrases are exact), but are intended convey the gist of the responses.

Introduction from that evening, by AElflaed of Duckford, Guest Fest hostess:
I would like to introduce our honored speakers.

As King, Artan is Artan VI of the Outlands. In other kingdoms, he might be simply "Outlands." If he weren't king, he would be Duke Artan macAilin, but the macAilin is dropped during the reign. So at the moment I'm speaking of Duke Artan. Artan has had an AoA nearly 24 years. He is the Premier of the Order of the Stag's Blood. The 20th anniversary of his knighting will be February 15. At Outlandish, he will have been a Master of the Pelican for 11 years. And he has a really good award, too: He's a Walker of the Way.

Aziza al-Kashani, originally of Drygestan and long of al-Barran, will have had an award of arms for 22 years, in July. Aziza is a Companion of the Stag's Blood, a fighting award, and of the Order of the Stag, for kingdom service. (Those were described for the sake of a couple of fair newcomers in the audience.) A few years ago, Duchess Aziza was made a Mistress of the Order of the Pelican.

In all the known world it is a rare thing for a king and queen both to be members of the Order of the Pelican, and so for Guest Fest I thought perhaps sharing some of what they have experienced as King and Queen would be an excellent service to the people of al-Barran.

But as they are King and Queen, I'm especially glad that they have taken this time out of their very busy eight months to meet with us tonight. A free Thursday night would be a great thing, theoretically. They would have been willing to do this without crowns and thrones. My choice to be more formal is for the benefit of those here who might not have had much opportunity to be this close to royalty.

1) What kind of SCA experience translates to being good royalty?

Aziza: being a good organizer, maybe being autocrat
Artan: being any kind of officer, familiar with deadlines, reporting, information gathering, familiar with chain of command. Real-world organizational experience
Aziza: ability to delegate; you can't do it alone
Artan: having a staff is new in the last ten years or so
being a good fighter helps you get the position but it doesn't help at all with the job of being king

2) What should one consider in a potential consort?

Aziza: Communication; it's stressful
Artan: good job, big truck
Aziza: Unless you have one
Artan: someone who has the same ideas and ideals as you Aziza: someone who balances you, compensates for your weaknesses Artan: it's like dating—make sure you're compatible.

3) Did the underlying reasons for entering Crown change, for you, over the twenty-year span from your first to most recent victory?

Artan's answers:

1st time: just really wanted to win, had just become a knight about five weeks, wanted to prove he could do it. Won, didn't want to be king so much as just jump to being a count.

2nd time: everyone thought Johann would win. Artan had no job, etc., though "just want to be a duke."

3rd time: Kings in Atenvedt did a lot of handoff and repeat (Brion/Trelon). He thought he could do the job well, and got to make Aziza queen the 1st time.

4th time: to make Aziza a duchess. Had been in California for a few years [going to college] and had lost touch some with the Outlands

5th time: changed kingdom law (last time) to move Crown Tourney so there would be a longer Crown Prince period [July to November]. Thought the best way to show how the Crown Prince should be respectful was to win Crown [and demonstrate that deference]. Hrothgar and Madigan were king and queen, There were political problems up north, and Artan offered to handle them after Hrothgar's reign was over.

6th time: There were some things he wanted to do, and prove he could still do it, to encourage more formality in the kingdom and to be king at Estrella on the 20th anniversary of his knighting.

4) At any event, even here tonight, there might be knowledgeable, experienced folk who seldom step outside their Society roles, and also new, intimidated, curious bystanders. How do Your Majesties bridge that gap?

Artan: I don't know that we do.
Aziza: One way we do is attempting or being conscientious of being everyone's Crown.
Artan: Yeah, that's hard. You have relationships/history with people before becoming Crown and it's hard to remember that you're king even for people you've had issues with.
Aziza: It's hard when they're your good friends, hard to stay formal with them.
       The retinue is supposed to be there without being there The current retinue is very good with that.

5) Is it better to hand out too many awards, or too few?

Aziza: Too few. It makes the ones given out more special. If a person is deserving, the next crown will do it. Too many looks like you aren't carefully thinking about recipients.
Artan: disagree—still special to those who get the awards
Aziza: you can't make everybody happy

6) What do your subjects do that bothers you the most?

Aziza: excited to be queen this time for the opportunity to be an example of formality, and is annoyed when people don't play along
Artan: sometimes someone who's not in an order says "X should definitely be in the order." The recommendation is okay, the demands and absolutes are not okay.
Artan: people giving away the surprise of an upcoming award...
Aziza: Part of the joy of giving an award is the surprise [and others don't have the right to take that away from the Crown and from the recipient]

7) What are some mistakes kings and queens have made?

Aziza: Not communicating with consorts before Crown
Artan: hard to answer while being polite. Once had a king who didn't open ANY letters; Artan got a pile of unopened letters from him. Great stage presence, good leader, but didn't read mail.
Artan: Kings to didn't listen to the actions/inactions of predecessors
Artan: Kings who didn't plan how to run their Crown Tourneys [they know when they enter Crown that if they win they'll need to run a Crown Tourney, and some stlll haven't figured out how it will be run when the day comes].
Aziza: Kings who don't know kingdom law and break law inadvertently

8) What are some mistakes you might have made in earlier reigns?

Artan: Tons. All kinds of mistakes.
Aziza: not getting enough info before giving awards [giving awards to people who turned out not to be so nice]
Artan: made some peers we wish we hadn't the first time. Should've been stronger when trouble came with Crown Prince and Princess Let some people fight in Crown Tournament when they should'n't have. In Crown tournaments, friends were robbed, but didn't do anything in order to avoid perception of favoritism. Once inadvertently violated kingdom law. It was the Earl Marshal, really, who did, but the king is ultimately responsible.
Aziza: So many little things all the time, tiny things, but couldn't tell if they really hurt someone [speaking of slights when passing through a room; of being distracted and distant without meaning to be]

9) What surprised you about the experience of being royalty?

Artan: I was taken aback by the deference. I was Queen's Champion when I won Crown the first time. First time after Crown tournament, before even being made Crown Prince, people bowed and looked, how real being king is to some people (people bowing outside SCA events, etc.), how much the king and queen mean to people and the depth of emotion.

Aziza: Artan had the advantage and had been queen twice. When she was first queen, Artan was already familiar with how important the king and queen are to people. She was surprised by people's assumption that they really cared [about things they couldn't even know about]—the assumption that they Crown is knowledgeable and caring.

Artan: People want the K/Q to handle things they're not in charge of.

Aziza: The kinds of issues people bring to you that should maybe be taken to someone else.

Artan: always thought kingdom law defined what the king can do, but actually kingdom law says what they can't do.

10) What are the hardest parts?

Artan: Hardest part is doing things you don't want to do, because they're the right thing to do for the kingdom. It's hard to be a good king.
Aziza: Doing the right thing, not the easy thing.
Aziza: Hard to allow people to be deferential to me because I'm wearing the crown. It goes against how we're raised in the U.S.
Artan: Would like to pretend to be an English king, but it's hard to do, like saying "please leave us" instead of just "leave us."

11) What are the best parts?

Aziza: Reactions and faces when we give people stuff.
Artan: can touch people in a way that is very meaningful. Awards are an easy way, but smaller things go a long way.
Artan: You get to make Walkers of the Way.
Artan: Magical moment: Tana's Laurel Ceremony
Aziza: Everyone has magical moments&mash;just a different perspective, a little bubble of magic. [As queen she feels more responsible for it and can influence the tone of an event.]

12) How did your perceptions of the Society change once you stepped into the role of King and Queen?

Aziza: able to see the more mundane workings of it. Perspective changed.
more coming as transcription continues...
[Sorry this was never completed.]

13) How did your perceptions of other Royalty change once you stepped OUT of the role of King and Queen?

14) Was one reign harder than the others? If so, why?

15) If you could pick one experience, what was the most positive thing to happen during any of your reigns?

16) In hindsight, is there one thing that you would do differently?

All of Artan's squires were there: Lord Dermod, Bardolf, and The Honorable Lord Vladimir

Later in the evening, flash photos to get the crowd in the back:

Those present were


Meanwhile, downstairs the first three or four named below were helping the other four or five have fun and be occupied so that the serious candle-lit experience could unfold upstairs. Thank you, Kirby and Holly especially, and Courtney and Josh for helping.



Bardolf took the photos, without flash, and I'm grateful to him for doing that, and very glad to have the photos, because as soon as they were uploaded to the computer, that camera ceased to function. Sadie and Kendrick must have taken some too, as Bardolf is in some; thanks.

Lady Marie took more notes than I ever expected, and they're wonderful. From those the answers to the questions were summarized. Thank you.

Master Gunwaldt lit the back path with firelight, and marked the front path with ice and light and... I would take a photo but the camera's broken.

All my family helped with set-up of the beautiful setting (and of the kid-rooms downstairs): Gunwaldt

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