Commissioned specifically for the coronation of King Charles III, 'On His Majesty’s Secret Service' is the first contemporary set James Bond novel since Jeffrey Deaver’s 'Carte Blanche' in 2011.
The new James Bond novel, Charlie Higson’s 'On His Majesty's Secret Service', has been released to celebrate the coronation of King Charles III.
Ian Fleming Publications had commissioned Young Bond series author Charlie Higson to write the new Bond adventure, which has hit shelves today.
The title of the novel, 'On His Majesty’s Secret Service', is a mild deviation from Fleming’s tenth novel 'On Her Majesty’s Secret Service', originally published in 1963 and which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year.
The new 007 story brings Bond into the present day, with a narrative that takes place on 4 May 2023.
The story is set two days before the coronation of King Charles III. Bond is sent to thwart an attempt to disrupt the coronation by the wealthy and self-styled Athelstan of Wessex, who is on a deadly mission of his own to teach the UK a lesson. 007 must dismantle his devious plans and defeat his privately hired team of mercenaries.
All royalties from sales of the book will support the work of the National Literacy Trust, an independent UK charity working with schools and communities to give disadvantaged children the literacy skills to succeed in life.
Higson has written five novels in the Young Bond series, which are young adult spy novels featuring Bond as a teenage boy attending school at Eton College in the 1930s. The final novel in the series was published 15 years ago.
Higson previously said: “When Ian Fleming Publications came to me with the idea of writing an adult Bond story a little more than a month ago I was thrilled – until I realised it had to be ready for the coronation in May. Getting it written and turned around in such a short space of time was going to be as tense and heart-pounding as any Bond mission. Although, of course, nobody would actually be shooting at me.”
Indeed, Higson was first approached about the project in February, wrote the book throughout March, and it sent to the printers by April – rapid-fire by even Bond’s standards!
Managing director of Ian Fleming Publications Corinne Turner said: “The coronation of King Charles III is a momentous occasion for the country. We asked ourselves how we at Ian Fleming Publications could celebrate it, and the answer seemed obvious. Ian Fleming’s ‘On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’ was first published on 1 April 1963. What better way, 60 years on, to mark this new chapter in history than with a brand-new story: ‘On His Majesty’s Secret Service’? We shared our thoughts with Charlie, and he was delighted to take on the challenge of writing a Bond adventure in time for publication in May.”
Higson has defended the fact that his take on James Bond in 'On His Majesty's Secret Service' is “a bit woke”, which also harks back to Ian Fleming Publications’ problematic censoring of the original Bond novels.
The best-selling author has also slammed the last Bond film, No Time To Die. Speaking with The Sunday Times, Higson shared his feelings about the modern James Bond movies:
"I think that was wrong. I went to see No Time to Die with my oldest boy, Frank, who is 30, and he said, ‘That felt like a Bond film made by people who are embarrassed to make a Bond film.’ You had to watch two films in advance to know who such and such is and you think, ‘Oh, fuck off with that.’ Make it a new mission each episode and let him be Bond. They overcomplicate him."
'On His Majesty’s Secret Service' is out now. King Charles III’s coronation takes place on Saturday 6 May at Westminster Abbey.