Did Scotland's James II actually have a troop of royal meerkats? – Susan Morrison
Suddenly the entire world was looking at us, and from the moment the word broke from Balmoral until we said goodbye to that Globemaster carrying her coffin into a saltire blue sky, Scotland showed that world how these things should be done.
Tourists on the High Street could barely believe what was happening. One American stopped me to offer his condolences, which was nice, if a tad unnecessary.
I only met her once, I said. He nearly exploded with joy at meeting what he now thought was a royal confidant. Didn’t have the heart to tell him it was at one of the garden parties and by "meeting the queen” I meant standing behind an archer to applaud politely as she walked by.
I also fought off the mischievous desire to tell him that in Scotland, upon the death of a monarch, we send three witches to kill all the wild haggis in the Highlands.
The world's press descended. Journalists looked faintly startled to find themselves North of the Wall. Every now and then, I thought I caught a whiff of condescension in their tone. They seemed mildly surprised as we clicked Operation Unicorn so smoothly into place.
We Scots know how to mourn a monarch, and we are suited to the business of solemnity. You can have all the clapping and flower chucking you like down south, but up here we do sombre and we do it well.
The press in black ties and dresses stood about speaking to the camera, and doing long rambling commentary over helicopter shots of the hearse and Holyrood, which they managed mostly to pronounce correctly, unlike the Mercat Cross.
At several points at least one news channel appeared to think it was called the Meerkat Cross, and again, I had to fight the mischievous desire to tell tourists that yes, that is indeed the correct name because it’s the traditional house for the royal meerkats of James II.
It's not a particularly hard word, Mercat. I dread to think what would have happened if the funeral cortege had gone through Auchtermuchty, Ecclefechan, Freuchie, Auchenshuggle, Culross and Machrihanish.