Boris Johnson is ‘scared’ of democracy says Nicola Sturgeon
The Queen has remained staunchly apolitical throughout her reign and abstained from commenting on public votes, for the most part. However, recent polls show more than half of the Scottish electorate now support the independence movement, having been spurred on by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. A second referendum could therefore be on its way.
Coral Bookmakers offer six to one odds for there to be a public vote on the matter this year.
If another vote was granted to Scotland by Westminster and the people of Scotland voted to leave the UK, it would signify one of the most momentous changes for the monarchy.
The Queen herself noted on the issue of Scottish devolution, “I cannot forget that I was crowned Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland” — which is the closest she has ever come to suggesting how she is in favour of a United Kingdom.
However, the Scottish electorate would only vote on the country’s position within the UK, not on its constitutional monarchy — meaning the Queen could end up being sovereign to two neighbouring countries.
This has the potential to be a smooth transition — at least in terms of maintaining the Queen as head of state — if Scotland were to become the 17th realm which is all overseen by the same monarch.
Queen Elizabeth II and Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister
Sturgeon is currently pushing for a referendum on independence but intends to keep the Queen as head of state
However, contemporary historian, Professor Peter Hennessy, noted: “There are all sorts of models for the relationship of a monarch to a former colony or dependency, but this is different because the relationship has been so much closer. This is flesh of our flesh.”
Journalist Paul Hoggart added: “There are many unresolved issues that could prove extremely thorny: whether an independent Scotland would keep the pound sterling and whether the remaining UK would have to move its nuclear submarine fleet from its base on the River Clyde.”
Other areas of contention, such as the major Brexit hurdle of access to fishing waters and how a border between England and Scotland would operate, could increase tensions between the nations.
There is an implication that Scotland would try to rejoin the EU as an independent nation, which would set up another area of difficulty for the monarchy — and a source of tension across the UK.
Professor Hennessy said: “It would be really unfortunate if the negotiations for separation after a Yes vote became acrimonious, which there’s a very high chance they would.
“People would try and politicise the question of her [the Queen].
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Sturgeon has seen an increase in support for another referendum recently
“She’d never do that herself, but others might try to.
“With the republican strain in the SNP, that could all get very tricky.”
He added: “It will be a terribly psychological blow for the rest of the United Kingdom.”
Yet, constitutional expert Professor Vernon Bogdanor suggested most conflicts between Scotland and the rest of the UK would be kept at arm’s length from the Palace.
He explained that the Queen would probably have a governor general to represent her, distancing the monarch from the conflicts.
Writing in 2014 before the first independence referendum, Mr Hoggart also claimed that “few are better placed” than the Queen to help make the UK a united place once again.
However, the monarch has evidently struggled to do so.
Factors out of her control, such as Brexit and the pandemic, have only accelerated calls for Scottish independence again.
Indyref2: An Ipsos Mori poll from last October showed support in favour of independence
The Queen’s property in Scotland, Balmoral, with her family
Indeed, Mr Hoggart appeared in Newsweek to predict that she “may face a challenge as great as a dissolution of the UK” if Scotland narrowly voted to remain within the union.
Director of UCL’s Constitution Unit, Professor Robert Hazell told the BBC that the Queen’s duties in future would “depend on the role provided for head of state in Scotland’s new written constitution”.
He added that the responsibilities would be “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”.
Back in 2014, before the first independence referendum, the Scottish government clarified that the Scottish people would be sovereign in the event of independence — it currently lies with the Crown in Parliament.
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The Scottish government’s White Paper said it would be “right for an independent Scotland to continue to contribute to the expenses of the monarchy through taxes”, although the details would have to be hashed out after the referendum.
Holyrood Palace could even be under scrutiny in the event that Scotland votes to leave the UK, as it is partly funded by the public purse unlike Balmoral.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Scotland on Thursday in an attempt to boost morale and unionist sentiment.
Yet, Ms Sturgeon has discouraged his visit, and claimed it is not “essential work” and therefore he does not need to cross the border into Scotland.