Alex Salmond uses the Diamond Jubilee to reaffirm the Scottish government’s commitment to the monarch.
Scottish first minister Alex Salmond this weekend used the opportunity of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations to reaffirm the Scottish government’s commitment to the monarch.
With many of the SNP’s critics accusing Salmond et al of failing to provide sufficient detail about what an independent Scotland would mean and look like, the first minister was clear in his call for the Queen to be retained as head of state.
Speaking to BBC Scotland on Tuesday ahead of the service of Thanksgiving at St Paul’s Cathedral, Salmond said:
“Clearly for people, Scottish identity is becoming more and more powerful. There’s no conflict between that and having respect for her majesty, because her majesty will be Queen of Scots after independence and there’s no difficulty in that.”
“Obviously people are very proud of the saltire but the flag being flown in Scotland, in my view, should be the Royal Standard, which is the Lion Rampant, which is very much in many senses the people’s flag as well as the monarch’s flag in Scotland.
“So my advice to any budding entrepreneur out there is to produce more Lion Rampants. I think you’ll find a very willing market.”
The remarks however are likely to cause some friction within the yes to independence campaign. Having called on the movement seeking separation to emulate the protests against the poll tax, the Scotsman yesterday quoted Scottish Socialist Party leader, Colin Fox, as having outlined his party’s “radical vision” of an independent Scottish Republic.
• Time to FoI the Queen? 4 Jun 2012
Meanwhile, with much talk throughout the week of the Queen’s ability to unite, in Northern Ireland the signs are that her ability to bring people together could have reached historic proportions with the strongest hint yet that Sinn Fein’s Martin McGuinness is preparing to shake hands with the Queen.
Just over a year on from her state visit to Ireland, Her Majesty will visit Northern Ireland on a two day visit at the end of June. Already dubbed by Northern Ireland secretary Owen Paterson as an “historic” event, DUP first minister Peter Robinson this weekend seemed to suggest that it could be more historic than some might think.
Speaking to the Newsletter over the weekend, asked what discussions he and McGuinness have had on the subject, Robinson responded:
“I’ve discussed a range of issues… I don’t divulge what takes place in private conversations but you can imagine that both in conversations with the palace and in conversations with Sinn Fein those are issues that would have been spoken of.
“There are difficulties – Sinn Fein is a republican party, it’s a party that has no votes to garner as a result of Martin McGuinness shaking hands with the Queen.
“I don’t know whether Martin McGuinness will find this to be an appropriate occasion to shake hands with the Queen.
“But the one thing that I’m pretty sure of is that at some stage – now or later – such a handshake will take place and my own view is that it would be missing an opportunity if it wasn’t to be on this occasion.”
Meanwhile, the Belfast Telegraph chose to speak of the Jubilee as offering a “legacy of hope”.
Speaking of just one celebration in an area of Belfast the paper’s editorial yesterday concluded:
Protestants and Catholics at a Belfast interface take part in a joint Jubilee party. That is a sentence many of us who lived through the recent troubled past of Northern Ireland can scarcely believe.
But the festivities did happen and were the culmination of sterling work by many people on the ground in the Skegoneill/Glandore area in the north of the city to find a new way of respecting each other.
Those people have taken many personal risks to reach out to each other, to break down physical as well as mental barriers and to reach accommodation. It is slow work, but invaluable and an example to all areas where division still exists.
Congratulations to those who organised the party and to those who took part. They could be creating a legacy of hope.
However you feel about the monarchy, there is no denying the Diamond Jubilee offered some unity in otherwise troubled times.