What place for Queen Elizabeth II if Scotland is independent? She was crowned in 1952 as monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Her ancestors include English and Scottish rulers. Losing a jewel in the crown might seem a royal pity.
The British media picked it up immediately last Sunday in Balmoral when she told a parishioner she hoped that voters would “think very carefully about the future” — within the bounds of politically correct, according to most of her subjects.
Edinburgh resident Laura Robertson said: “She isn’t supposed to comment on anything political. But I think maybe people wanted to get some sort of an opinion from her anyway.”
Elizabeth is generally very popular in Scotland, spending summers there. Her mother had Scottish roots. But being seen or heard to intervene in politics isn’t allowed.
Director of the Scottish Centre on Constitutional Change Michael Keating said: “Any comments by the Queen on the merits of the case would be clearly against the Constitutional Convention. She knows that. She’s been around a long time, and I’m certain she wouldn’t want to. The Queen has the respect of people in the UK, including Scotland, precisely because she doesn’t intervene in political matters.”
Keeping up appearances is a large part of her ceremonial job. In 1999, she chaired the inauguration of the modern, democratically elected Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, created with powers devolved from the Parliament of Great Britain, in Westminster in London.
The Queen said: “Today is a historic day for Scotland. It is our solemn duty in this chamber with the eyes of the country upon us to mark the point when this new parliament assumes it’s full powers in the service of the Scottish people.”
Even the independence campaign leader Alex Salmond, the Scottish first minister, seems to have a place in his heart for Queen Elizabeth. He has reiterated that, from his point of view, she would remain as head of state in an independent Scotland. He said: “We want to see Her Majesty the Queen as Queen of the Scots, a fantastic title.”
The United Kingdom’s flag, then; what about that, if you take Scotland out of the equation?
It’s been around for more than two centuries, combining the crosses of the patron saints of England, Scotland and Ireland — George, Andrew and Patrick. Would the white saltire on a blue background n’ere be seen to fly south of the border again?!
Constitutionalists reassure us, saying if an independent Scotland keeps the Queen, then rump UK can keep the flag as is, as it represents a union of crowns, if not nations.