By Alex Robertson
It’s all over. The Diamond Jubilee of the Queen of England, I mean. After four solid days of high jinks in London, I was left wondering when the celebration of 60 years of the Queen of Scots was going to start.
I declare an interest - in being a republican, but I am perfectly happy to mark a whole lifetime of service as monarch which has been pretty much faultless. But having paid attention to what has been going on, I have some strong observations to make.
Firstly, I doubt if all the four days were designed by the Queen, but she was very badly advised. If there was ever an occasion to celebrate the Union, this was it, and what we got was four days of London celebrations.
Scotland was firmly put in its place, as a region of England. How difficult would it have been to have, at the very least, a leading member of the Queen’s family to lead Scottish celebrations, Princess Ann for example? No word now of an equal partnership.
If it were, the celebrations might easily have been split between Edinburgh and London, or four capitals over the four days would have been a good idea. But no, the mindset of Westminster, Whitehall and the Palace is stuck as if in amber in times around a hundred years ago. So the Queen of Scots was airbrushed out.
Secondly, the whole thing was orchestrated as a spectacular piece of propaganda for a London-centric Union. Instead of just a celebration of a life given in service, it became an opportunity to beef up Britain as a paragon of all things good and fine. And in my view we could have done perfectly well with just the Queen being celebrated, with a bit less ... alright, a lot less, flag waving and ‘jingoistic’ tripe that was heavily larded over everything.
Thirdly, in case anyone thinks this is just a grumpy old republican trying to rain on the parade, I couldn’t help thinking how ‘London’ the nature and form of the celebrations were. How differently we would have done it in Scotland, with more poetry, singing and dancing, and how much more in tune with Scottish culture and ways.
In England the monarch is set high above the people, to be bowed and scraped to, whereas in Scotland, the way is to treat the monarch as first among equals, dependent on fellow Scots for their trust and continued confidence in the head of state to continue as such. Duns Scotus and all that.
Fourth and finally, Queen Victoria, the only other British monarch to celebrate a diamond jubilee, is on record as prizing the Scot’s no-nonsense directness and candour, bereft of flummery and flattery so evident in the London events.
It seems the Palace courtiers didn’t like that then, and the current lot like it even less now. Scotland has for three hundred years simply not had a permanent live-in Head of State. And equally simply, and with characteristic candour and directness, I think we have had enough and I think we deserve better.
In summary, I think the jubilee celebrations were shabby and a massive missed opportunity from a Scottish viewpoint. If anyone ever tries to tell you how much Scotland benefits from being in the Union, just remember the last four days, how Scotland was sidelined, that we have no live-in head of state and the portion of the one we do have is hopelessly lost to the Unionist and Westminster camp.
Talk of ‘respect’ rings hollower with every passing day, and I suspect that Westminster has just shot itself firmly in the foot as far as winning friends for the Union. For that, at least, I am profoundly grateful.