This is a very common theme type, in which parts of the theme answers belong to a set. In this case, the first word is a face card. I’ve been working on “If I Were King of the Forest” for an upcoming production of “The Wizard of Oz,” so I guess royalty has been on my mind lately.
I tried to keep the corners on this one from getting too closed off, which is what tends to happen when one wants to keep one’s fill options as flexible as possible. I initially had some longer Downs in the mix, but they were forcing tricky answers so I decided to go without.
As for the clues, I’ve been trying not to get too political, but I just couldn’t help myself with the clues for DIES and DUMP. And if you haven’t heard the Queen of the Night’s aria from “The Magic Flute,” there’s a very dramatic interpretation here. It is a very difficult piece to sing. Here is a somewhat less successful rendition by Florence Foster Jenkins.