Crossword Genius

Following the monarch at a short distance (5)

Ross

I believe the answer is:

after

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'following' is the definition.
(I've seen this before)

'the monarch at a short distance' is the wordplay.
'the monarch' becomes 'ER' (abbreviation for Elizabeth Regina, British Queen).
'at' is a charade indicator (letters next to each other) (I've seen this in other clues).
'a short distance' becomes 'aft' (I can't justify this - if you can you should believe this answer much more).
'er' put after 'aft' is 'AFTER'.

Can you help me to learn more?

(Other definitions for after that I've seen before include "Coming later in time" , "Searching for" , "At a later time or behind" , "Behind; seeking" , "Following, consequent to" .)

I've seen this clue in the Evening Standard.
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