The Standard


22 The Standard September 14 to 20 2014

International News

Scottish independence: Implications for the Queen

Queen Elizabeth II



Zimbabwe “Ripe for

Investment, poised for Growth”

BUCKINGHAM Palace has made

it clear that the Queen does not

wish to influence the Scottish

referendum, saying it is “a matter

for the people of Scotland”.

But would the Queen’s role north of the

border change if Scotland votes for independence?

The Royal Family’s links with Scotland

are well-known: Balmoral Castle in Aberdeenshire

is one of its most famous residences,

bought for Queen Victoria by

Prince Albert.

The Queen spends a week every year at

Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh, the official

residence of the British monarch in


Prince Charles went to boarding school

in Scotland and is often seen sporting a


The Royal Family also has Scottish titles

— Prince Charles carries the title

Duke of Rothesay, while the Duke and

Duchess of Cambridge are referred to as

the Earl and Countess of Strathearn.

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The 2


and the 5

of October are

travelling dates.


Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond

is keen to stress these associations, pointing

out that the union of the crowns predates

the union of the parliaments which

he wishes to end.

His government has always maintained

that the Queen would still be “Queen of

Scots” if the country votes “Yes” on September


Earlier this week, he said the Queen

“would be proud” to be the monarch of an

independent Scotland.

However, not everyone in the “Yes”

camp agrees.

The Royal Family’s future in Scotland

has been questioned by pro-independence

campaigners such as chair of the “Yes”

Scotland campaign Dennis Canavan, who

has said he personally favours a referendum

on who should be the head of state.

The sovereign’s constitutional impartiality

is an established principle of our

democracy and one which the Queen has

demonstrated throughout her reign.

“As such, the monarch is above politics

and those in political office have a duty to

ensure that this remains the case.

“Any suggestion that the Queen would

wish to influence the outcome of the current

referendum campaign is categorically


“Her Majesty is firmly of the view that

this is a matter for the people of Scotland.”

Members of the Radical Independence

movement — a coalition of activists on

the left — would also like to enable Scotland

to become a republic if it wants to do


Earlier this month, a YouGov poll suggested

54% of Scots favour keeping the

monarchy if Scotland votes “Yes”, compared

with 39% who would like to see it

scrapped. Among SNP voters, this narrows

to 46% compared with 39%, though

the survey had a smaller sample size.

Although these figures indicate the

monarchy still has more fans than it does

detractors, in the UK as a whole support

is higher, at 77%, and opposition is lower,

at 17%, according to Ipsos Mori’s latest


Even if Salmond gets his preference

and the Queen remains head of state in an

independent Scotland, her role would be

likely to change, according to director of

UCL’s Constitution Unit, Professor Robert


He says the Queen’s duties would “depend

on the role provided for head of state

in Scotland’s new written constitution”.

The Scottish government has specified

that under independence, the people of

Scotland would be sovereign, whereas at

present sovereignty rests with the Crown

in Parliament.

There is also the question of funding.

The White Paper says it would be “right

for an independent Scotland to continue

to contribute to the expenses of the monarchy

through taxes” but precise arrangements

would be decided in post-referendum


Holyrood Palace would presumably be

under particular scrutiny here, since unlike

Balmoral, it is partly funded by the

public purse and its conservation is carried

out by a Scottish government executive

agency, Historic Scotland.

Such a situation is not unprecedented.

The Queen’s responsibilities in Scotland

are “likely to be very similar to her role

she fills in the Commonwealth realms of

which she is head of state such as Australia

and New Zealand”, says Prof Hazell.

In most Commonwealth countries, the

Queen is regularly briefed through a governor-general

who acts as her representative.

So would a governor-general be introduced

in Scotland?

Constitutional historian Lord Hennessy

told BBC Radio 4’s The World at

One the idea has not been floated because

of Westminster’s insistence on not making

any contingency plans for Scottish independence.

“I’d be very surprised if in any cupboard

there was ‘what do we do about HM

Queen in the event of a Yes vote’,” he says.


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