Would an independent Scotland keep the monarchy? – Helen Martin

If Scotland leaves the United Kingdom, the position of the monarch as its head of state would be the subject of a national debate, writes Helen Martin.

Monday, 18th November 2019, 6:00 am
Updated Monday, 18th November 2019, 10:19 am
Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh listens intently as the Queen gives a speech to MSPsat the Scottish Parliament in during a ceremony marking the 20th anniversary of devolution in June this year. Picture: Getty

THE Queen’s car drove along Princes Street, which was lined by the largest crowd I’d ever seen in my life. Some adults were waving Union Jacks and most children had been given bunches of red, white and blue crepe paper strips joined together on a little cardboard stick.

When I say “my life”, I was only about five at the time. I was staying at my great-aunt’s flat along Drummond Street and we’d walked down the bridges with hundreds of others in our ‘Sunday best’ gear (a standard phrase back then as everyone got dressed up for church or special occasions) to find a spot where we would clearly be able to see Her Majesty waving at the crowd. It was 1958. Back then no one seemed to have a negative thought about the monarchy. The personal lives of the royals were not exposed and detailed in newspapers or on television. They had privacy, and they topped every other celebrity in the world.

Their image has changed now as we follow the gist of Harry and Wills having fallen out, Harry and Meghan refusing the Queen’s Christmas at ­Sandringham and, in the past, have closely followed the tales of Charles, Diana and Camilla, Andrew and Sarah, and many more dramas.

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Now the Holyrood Parliament is next to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen has addressed MSPs, celebrated 20 years of the Scottish Parliament, and is still officially declared as “Elizabeth the Second, by the Grace of God, of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and of Her other Realms and Territories, Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, Defender of the Faith”.

‘Celebrities’ by birth

The biggest question about the royals nowadays, is will they still be ‘ours’ if Scotland votes for independence and secedes? There will be some (many or few?) in the SNP who believe leaving the UK means leaving the monarchy. We probably all realise how often Her Maj is referred to as The Queen of England, either by the English or by the US and others overseas.

Perhaps some feel that means we should opt out and become a republic with a president, and others feel we should keep the royals but she’d need a new name anyway as there would no longer be a Great Britain or a United Kingdom.

Would we remain part of the realm? On the minus side, we would have to contribute to royal financial bills. The £2.4million for Harry and Meghan’s home refurb was certainly recognised as a massive minus!

On the plus side, the United Kingdom royal family are international ‘celebrities’ by birth, above and beyond aristocrats and the most famous royals in the world. When it comes to tourism, trade and international relations they can be a significant advantage. Her Maj has several residences in Scotland employing many local people. She hosts royal garden parties. And the Queen gives honours and knighthoods.

Despite being an SNP follower most of his life, my husband put his name down for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Concert. Ironically, we got tickets and had the Heston Blumenthal picnic in Buckingham Palace grounds followed by the concert organised by Gary Barlow!

It’s unlikely that the thoughts of keeping the Queen or not are going to affect votes in this general election which is all about serious, cliff-edge, chaotic politics. Needless to say, the royal question hasn’t even come up over the three years of Brexit hoo-ha we have endured.

But assuming we move on somehow to an independence referendum, and if the result is leaving the UK, this is going to become a national debate, election issue, or another ­referendum in a new Scotland.