What King Charles III Means for Scotland’s Future in the UK

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The coffin of Queen Elizabeth II will quickly arrive in Edinburgh, the place she might be taken to Holyrood Palace—her official residence within the Scottish capital—and later St. Giles Cathedral on the town’s cobbled Royal Mile, replete with vacationer retailers festooned within the nation’s iconic checked tartan fabric.

In reality, nevertheless, the widespread adoption of tartan—the distinctive woolen sample mostly related to Scottish kilts—is owed to a royal public relations stunt designed to win native approval for the British crown. Historically, tartan had been the only customized of arcane highland tribes however shunned by the lowland “elites.”

However to heal rifts throughout the border, in 1822 the famed novelist Sir Walter Scott stage-managed an enormous pageant in Edinburgh, throughout which new King George IV wore a tartan kilt whereas assembly equally attired native chieftains. It was a roaring success and the recognition of the monarchy and tartan—in the present day one in every of most potent and vivid symbols of Scottish identification—soared in tandem.

It’s an indication of how deftly the royal household has dealt with its relations with Scotland in latest centuries—a relationship that’s coming into uncharted waters following King Charles III’s formal accession to the throne on Friday.

In a 2020 poll, 70% of Scots aged 16 to 34 supported breaking away from the UK. And a separate poll by the think tank British Future in Might discovered that greater than a 3rd of Scots total mentioned the tip of Queen Elizabeth II’s reign could be the suitable time to abolish the monarchy and change into a republic, increased than the quarter of Brits total who mentioned the identical.

“Anybody who’s adopted Scottish politics during the last 30 years might be conversant in the concept that the passing of the Queen will be the remaining nail within the coffin for the Union,” says Alan MacDonald, a professor of Scottish historical past on the College of Dundee. “There’s positively a priority which may occur.”

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In fact, tensions between the “English” crown and Scottish nationalism have lengthy existed. On Christmas day 1950, a bunch of Scottish college students even briefly seized the revered Stone of Future from Westminster Abbey—arguing that it was stolen from the Scots throughout England’s invasion of Scotland in 1296.

Today, the extra urgent drivers of independence are the perceived bungling by the London-centric authorities amid hovering prices and a tortuous exit from the E.U. that Scots voted overwhelmingly towards in 2016. A disengaged, aloof sovereign would little question catalyze anti-Union sentiment and it falls on King Charles III to engineer his personal deft appeal offensive.


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“The arrival of King Charles is unquestionably a lift for [the independence] motion,” says one distinguished independence advocate, asking to stay nameless for concern of showing insensitive. “The Queen was universally standard; Charles isn’t. Easy.”

Charles can look to his family historical past for recommendation. Queen Victoria, who reigned from 1837 till 1901, was adept at “deciphering and manipulating historical past, adopting nationwide identities and evoking a major response” in Scotland, writes Richard Finlay, a professor of contemporary Scottish historical past on the College of Strathclyde, Glasgow. On prime of creating frequent visits north of the border, Victoria revived using a particular Scottish protocol—co-opting native costume, customs, and symbols—for her visits and cultivated an elite social circle that will be most sympathetic to anglicization.

Nonetheless, there are steep challenges for Charles. Elizabeth II’s fondness for Scotland was real. Her mom was from Glamis—a small village in Angus—and a part of Scottish aristocracy going again many generations. Any spare time the Queen had was spent at her Scottish property of Balmoral, the place certainly she handed on Thursday afternoon. Charles, against this, has by alternative established his personal residence at Restormel Manor within the far south of England.

“Charles is a pretend Scotsman,” says Clive Irving, writer of Elizabeth II’s unofficial biography The Final Queen. “He places on a kilt however by no means seems actually at dwelling in Scotland as a result of he’s not mainly inclined that approach.”

Learn Extra: Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s Steadfast Monarch, Dies

Irving provides {that a} cope with the independence-backing Scottish Nationwide Get together (SNP)—presently accountable for Scotland’s semi-autonomous parliament—that it will not search turning into republic throughout Elizabeth’s reign has now expired. (That mentioned, senior SNP leaders have previously stated that an impartial Scotland would maintain the U.Okay. monarch as head of state.)

In fact, Scottish independence and republicanism are associated however finally distinct points, and one doesn’t necessitate the opposite. “I believe the royal household is a large increase to Aberdeenshire [where Balmoral Castle sits],” says Nick Allan, a geologist primarily based in Aberdeen. “I don’t why our relationship with the royal household can’t proceed as regular if we’re impartial, similar to Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.”

A lot will relaxation on how fulsomely and genuinely Charles chooses to interact together with his Scottish topics. All through his seven a long time as inheritor to the British throne, he was recognized for outspoken views on every thing from the setting to structure, resulting in accusations of meddling in political and social issues past his purview. And as a younger man, he was portrayed within the U.Okay. media as an eccentric determine, who was obsessive about gardening and would talk to his plants.

Nonetheless, as inheritor he was aware to make use of his Scottish titles—Lord of the Isles and Duke of Rothesay—when north of the border. And he more and more stepped in for his ailing mom for engagements, most lately on Saturday to attend the Braemar Highland Gathering—an iconic, annual celebration of Scottish sports activities and tradition. MacDonald says these small particulars can go a great distance towards sustaining shut bonds.

“No person’s fairly positive but how the connection between the monarchy and the general public will evolve,” says MacDonald. “However no matter approach it adjustments, it’s actually going to alter.”

—With reporting by Ciara Nugent/London

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Write to Charlie Campbell at [email protected]



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