New 007 book sets adventure days before King’s coronation

Diana Rigg and George Lazenby in the 1969 James Bond caper On Her Majesty's Secret Service, which Ian Fleming wrote in 1963 - Allstar Picture Library Ltd
Diana Rigg and George Lazenby in the 1969 James Bond caper On Her Majesty's Secret Service, which Ian Fleming wrote in 1963 - Allstar Picture Library Ltd

James Bond’s latest adventure will take place just days before King Charles coronation.

The new novel, titled On His Majesty's Secret Service, was commissioned specifically to celebrate the royal occasion.

The book brings Bond to the present day, and is set to be released on the precise date it is set - just two days before the nation celebrates Charles’ coronation on May 6.

Charlie Higson was approached at short notice to create the work in time to meet this specific deadline, and penned the new thriller in just one month.

The book commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications marks Higson’s graduation from writing about Young Bond to creating a story about the British agent as an adult.

He 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.

“But I’ve been thinking about writing an adult Bond adventure ever since working on the Young Bond books, and he came bursting out of me with both fists flying. It was all I could do to keep up with him and get his story down on paper.

“Fleming famously wrote fast, and I channelled that energy. And now it's so exciting for me to finally enter the world of grown-up Bond.

“Everything you want from a Bond story is in there - sex, violence, cars, a colourful villain with a nasty henchman and, of course, Bond himself, so well-known and yet so unknowable.”

The plot of the novel will have some relevance to the royal events taking place in early May, and concerns the efforts of a villain named Athelstan of Wessex to disrupt the King’s coronation.

It is down or Bond to thwart the villain in the new novel, all the proceeds for which will go to the National Literacy Trust.

Corinne Turner, managing director of Ian Fleming Publications, said the book would be the publisher’s own way of marking both the coronation of Charles, and 60 years since the publication of Fleming’s thriller Her Majesty's Secret Service, from which the new volume derives its name.

News of the publication of the new Bond book comes after controversy regarding rewrites to the original run of spy novels.

The Telegraph revealed that a number of racial references from Fleming’s ahead of the republication of his espionage thrillers following a review by sensitivity readers.

Ian Fleming Publications also created a disclaimer to accompany the reissued texts, stating “This book was written at a time when terms and attitudes which might be considered offensive by modern readers were commonplace.

“A number of updates have been made in this edition, while keeping as close as possible to the original text and the period in which it is set.”