Conflicting messages emanating from Buckingham Palace amid calls by British politicians for the Queen to take a stand on Scottish Independence are causing confusion and frustration in the UK, as the referendum campaign enters its final week.
Unofficial briefings made by courtiers and sources at the palace have admitted in recent weeks that the Queen is concerned about the prospect of the Union breaking up, and she has spoken publicly in the past about it. The breaking up of her realms is considered to be the only time the Queen has made her opinion on politics be known officially.
Despite this, the Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond claimed the Queen for himself yesterday when he insisted: “I want the Queen as head of state, as Queen of Scots of an independent Scotland as her ancestors were.
“I think Her Majesty the Queen, who has seen so many events in the course of her long reign, will be proud to be Queen of Scots, and indeed we would be proud to have her as monarch of this land.”
This unwarranted declaration, and the apparent use of the Monarch as a political football clearly rattled the palace who moved quickly to rebuke Salmond. In a statement made shortly after Salmond’s, Buckingham palace said “the monarch is above politics, and those in political office have a duty to ensure that this remains the case”.
As Breitbart London reported yesterday, some Monarchists have queried the Palace and the Cabinet Office in their assertion that the Queen cannot get involved. It has been pointed out that not only did Her Majesty get involved in Scottish devolution in 1977, she also made very strong speeches defending the integrity of Canada against Quebec separatists in the 1980s. Constitutional experts argue this gives constitutional precedent for The Queen to briefly comment about the achievements of the Union in a non-political setting, without directly intervening in the issue of the referendum.
With the leaders of the three Westminster parties now in Scotland, historian Rafe Heydel-Mankoo criticised the decision not to have advised The Queen to speak impartially about the Union as she had in 1977: “Her Majesty The Queen is the most respected figure in the country (including Scotland) and is consistently ranked among the three most frequently cited symbols associated with “Britishness”, the very quality we may be about to lose. Her Majesty’s approval rating dwarfs those of Ed Milliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg combined”.
The English and Scottish monarchies were united under King James VI in 1603, long before the two countries came together politically in the act of Union in 1707. Under Salmond’s plan, if Scotland were to break away politically they would return to that 17th century situation where the separate nations of Great Britain are united by a shared monarch only.
The government, in line with its official policy of making no plans for the event of Scottish independence, have made no indications over what might happen to the Monarchy. Independent constitutional experts agree that Scotland would be likely to follow the precedent set by Canada, Australia and New Zealand by becoming a separate realm with the Queen represented locally by a Governor-General.