Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Decision Is for the Scots, but Her Majesty's Feelings Are Plain

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Decision Is for the Scots, but Her Majesty's Feelings Are Plain

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert Jobson Royal Editor commentary

IN 2000 at the Sydney Opera House, following a referendum in which the majority of Australians voted to retain her as head of state, the Queen made a powerful speech. In it she spelled out her constitutional position.

She said it was her "duty to seek to remain true to the interests of Australia and all Australians as we enter the 21st century". She went on: "It is my duty. It is also my privilege and my pleasure."

The Queen's position is exactly the same on the question of Scottish independence.

She believes, unequivocally, it is up to the Scottish people "alone" to decide by democratic and constitutional means their own future. As she said in that famous speech: "It should not be otherwise."

Reports that David Cameron wants Her Majesty to intervene in the Scottish referendum have led to high-level palace meetings, and, surprisingly, the Queen re-stating her constitutional position on the matter.

A 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 want to influence the outcome of the current referendum campaign is categorically wrong."

Her decision to remain impartial didn't surprise me. What did, however, was that she felt the need to say so.

Despite the statement some feel the Queen has quietly got her way.

Stories of her concern over a possible break-up of the union seem to have galvanised Messrs Cameron, Miliband and Clegg, leading them to abandon today's PMQs to head north of the border to campaign for a "no" vote, though it may still prove too little, too late.

Reports of the Queen's apparent "disquiet" over the referendum have echoes of 1986.

The press secretary at the time, Michael Shea, was at the centre of a "mole hunt" for a briefing to a Sunday Times journalist in which it was said the social policies being followed by Margaret Thatcher's government and her attitude to the Commonwealth were causing the Queen "dismay". …

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