Duke of Edinburgh title row: Why didn't other unionist parties back Conservative motion welcoming the new Duke and Duchess? – Philip Doggart

The speakeasy Marxists of City Chambers failed in a bid to seize power, then tried to criticise Prince Edward’s new title
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What’s in a name? A question posed by William Shakespeare in Romeo and Juliet. The answer generally is nothing. Does it matter to me my name means “lover of horses”? My grandfather’s weekly contribution to the local bookmaker was our only family connection to the equine world. My name has made no difference to how I turned out as an individual.

What is entirely different is a title. Titles impact the lives of people. The opportunity to write for this august publication is because I have the title of councillor. However, last week the thorny issue of titles was raised in the council meeting. While the wine-bar revolutionaries rule over us from Holyrood, the speakeasy Marxists of City Chambers failed in yet another attempt to seize power in the city. Whether it was anticipated frustration of losing that vote that caused their writing of motion 8.17 on “Edward Windsor” is anyone’s guess.

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There is something special about a title belonging to a city. There was not much that caused Belfast boys in the 1970s to be proud of our home city, but a trip to HMS Belfast, the WW2 warship with an illustrious past, was the first time I realised a title could generate a sense of pride.

As a Philip, the title Duke of Edinburgh for me will always be linked to the late Queen’s husband. Wherever he went as the Queen’s Consort, my adopted home city was represented by her side. Of course, the titleholder went further. The Duke of Edinburgh established one of the most successful global schemes for giving young people opportunity. Opportunity that life’s circumstances would previously have denied them.

Recipients of the Duke of Edinburgh Award have grasped the opportunities and transformed their lives. Much in the same way, the newly crowned King has created opportunity through the Prince’s Trust, and the new Duke of Edinburgh has taken on his father’s zeal in promoting the award that bears his title.

What happened in the vote last week? This is where it gets complicated. I moved an amendment to the motion, basically scrapping the invective and replacing it with a positive appreciation of the appointment of the new Duke and Duchess. The amendment also appreciated the work undertaken by the Duke with the International Festival and the city’s charities.

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The other unionist parties could not guarantee their groups would vote for the amendment. Somewhat strangely the supporters of the UK could not offer their support to the title awarded by the King that recognises the city they represent. Perhaps hardly a surprise with the current Labour group, which has more factions than we had motions at council last week.

Prince Edward and his wife Sophie are the new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh (Picture: Stuart C Wilson/pool/Getty Images)Prince Edward and his wife Sophie are the new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh (Picture: Stuart C Wilson/pool/Getty Images)
Prince Edward and his wife Sophie are the new Duke and Duchess of Edinburgh (Picture: Stuart C Wilson/pool/Getty Images)

Maybe more of a surprise, the Lib Dems did not support it, especially when I recall one of their vocal opponents of the monarchy had no problem attending a reception for award volunteers and raising a glass with the new Duke of Edinburgh celebrating their dedication to the scheme. Instead, we had a vote of no action, which means exactly that. There was no vote on the motion or the amendment.

Given that outcome, it is good to know that the Green (and SNP) baillies will continue to enjoy their occasional trips to the Palace without feeling too hypocritical.

Philip Doggart is Conservative councillor for Liberton/Gilmerton