Queen: 'Independence A Matter For The People Of Scotland'

Queen Says Independence Vote 'Is A Matter For The People Of Scotland'

The Queen takes the view that the fate of Scotland - to stay in the union or leave - is in the hands of its people, a Buckingham Palace spokesman has said. After reports over the weekend claimed the Queen was growing increasingly concerned about Scotland breaking away, a Palace spokesman stressed any suggestion the head of state wanted to influence the referendum vote was "categorically wrong".

There have also been calls from politicians for the Queen to make her views known in a bid to counter growing support for the independence campaign. While Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has said he believes the Queen would be "proud'' to be "Queen of Scots''.

But the spokesman indicated that those in elected positions had a duty to help the monarch retain his or her position of political impartiality. A Buckingham Palace spokesman said: "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 this remains the case. Any suggestion that the Queen would wish to influence the outcome of the current referendum campaign is categorically wrong. Her Majesty is simply of the view this is a matter for the people of Scotland."

The spokesman's comments clarify the Queen's position for those who would try and draw here into the referendum debate. The head of state is ultimately a unifying figure for the nation and if a sovereign was seen to favour one political party over another, or support a campaign, it would alienate a proportion of the population.

Elizabeth II speaking with Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond

But there is a precedent for the Queen commenting on a major issue that has constitutional implications. During her Jubilee year of 1977 there were growing calls for power to be devolved to Scotland and Wales. The Queen made her views quite clear in a speech to both houses of Parliament when she said she understood the aspirations of Scotland and Wales: ''But I cannot forget that I was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

''Perhaps this Jubilee is a time to remind ourselves of the benefits which union has conferred, at home and in our international dealings, on the inhabitants of all parts of this United Kingdom.''

If the Scottish independence campaign were successful there would be little change to the Queen's public duties. The Scottish Government white paper on independence says that the Queen would remain head of state in an independent Scotland, as she is in the UK and 15 other nations like Canada and Jamaica, known as the Queen's realms.

Her public duties in Scotland like holding audiences with the First Minister or hosting investiture ceremonies would carry on as normal. With the Queen as an independent Scotland's head of state, other members of the monarchy would not be foreign royals but members of Scotland's royal family and could deputise for the monarch - as they do in her other realms.

The Queen's realms normally have a Governor General - the head of state's representative who officiates on her behalf when the monarch is out of the country. A spokesman for the Yes Scotland campaign said the role would not be needed: "No such position would be required for very obvious reasons.

"The Queen is regularly in Scotland, she is extremely close to Scotland to be able to carry out ceremonial duties, and has always opened each session of the Scottish Parliament, for example."

It is likely the Queen's personal relationship with the nation would remain the same if it broke away. Scotland has become a special place for members of the monarchy since Queen Victoria fell in love with it. The Queen traditionally spends her summer break at her Balmoral estate and would continue to do so, if there was a Yes vote, as it is her private home.

And like other trips overseas the Queen would not need a passport to visit an independent Scotland - in fact she does not have one. British passports are issued in the name of the Queen, so it is not necessary for the monarch to have one.

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