by Rab Bruce’s Spider

One of the adjustments I’ve made since losing my eyesight is that I watch far less television than I used to. There are several reasons for this, not least of which is that few programmes have Audio Description, so watching them is largely a waste of time. The quality of available programmes is also a major factor. I have no interest in celebrity this that or the other, and I find that there are a great many podcasts now available which provide far greater insight into current affairs than any television programme does. As a result, I’ve been pretty much insulated from the seemingly endless and inane royalist propaganda being churned out, particularly by the BBC. Like many Indy supporters, I learned several years ago that what passes for informed news reporting on the BBC is mostly pro-Union propaganda.

Naturally, I’ve seen comment and come across a few video clips on social media, but none of them have Audio Description either, so I’ve tended to ignore the majority of them.

I’ve never really bothered too much about the monarchy. I’d certainly prefer to live in a republic where our Head of State is elected, but I know enough about British history to understand that this is never going to happen in the UK, where adulation of the monarchy is a central part of the Establishment system for maintaining control. As a result, I’ve been largely indifferent to the goings-on among the royal family. You can’t ignore it because worship of the royals (unless they don’t fit the proper Establishment requirements) is almost compulsory in the UK media, but I’ve never paid more than cursory attention to the bulk of it.

I think this past week or so confirms that my feelings about the monarchy are justified. We’ve seen an allegedly grieving King travel around the UK in an overtly political statement of intent while he’s busy laying off staff he deems surplus to his requirements. We’ve seen any anti-monarchy protest clamped down on or carefully studied by the Police, and we’ve seen endless over-the-top media interviews with royalist commentators and members of the public (sorry, loyal subjects), while there has been no republican viewpoint allowed. Now, you can say that this is out of respect for the UK’s longest-reigning monarch, but the monarchy has been very quick to conflate her death with the accession of the new King. I don’t think I’ve seen a single anti-monarchist insult the memory of the Queen at any of these protests; they are protesting about the institution of monarchy itself, and the automatic accession of King Charles.

The other main thing that has irritated me about all of this is the number of people claiming that the outpouring of grief and mourning among Scots is a clear blow for the cause of independence. These commentators seem very quick to conflate showing respect for an individual monarch with wanting to be ruled by Westminster. The two are not inextricably linked, and I’m sure there are many pro-Indy Scots who still want a monarchy. I’m not one of them, but that is irrelevant because it is SNP policy to retain the monarchy as Head of state when Scotland does become a normal country. Deciding on whether to become even more normal by transforming into a Republic will be a decision for the future, just as some former Empire countries are doing now.

One thing that intrigues me about this, though, is the numbers being cited. I’ve seen claims that over 750,000 people have or will join the long queue to file past the Queen’s coffin. Now, this is a historical event, so some people will want to be a witness for that reason. Others will genuinely want to pay respects, while I’m sure there may be a few tourists amongst them as well.

But if that figure is accurate, then we should expect the Scottish part of that to be around 64,000, based on Scotland’s population being around 8.5% of the UK. Yet the figure quoted for the Edinburgh pageant was only 33,000. If these figures are broadly correct, then I don’t think it supports a Scottish desire to worship the monarchy quite as much as the media and Unionist politicians would have us believe.

I understand there will be other "national" events such as a two minute silence. I doubt very much that I’ll be observing that except by the expedient of being busy listening to an audiobook at the time. I’m sure the media will tell us how well it was observed, but I’m not sure how much faith we could put in any such claims. After all, there was supposed to be a "Clap for the Queen" event during the week when we were encouraged to stand on our doorsteps and applaud, just as we did for the NHS during Covid. I don’t know about anyone else, but my street was silent when this event was scheduled to take place.

So is Scotland a monarchist country? As with so many other things, I expect there will be a binary split, but if we were fated to have a monarch as Head of State, I’d much prefer it to be a Scottish monarch rather than an English one. And before anyone gets too upset about that, I know that Charles III is King of Scots, but that’s just a feature of the Union of the Crowns. Scotland gets the monarch England wants, as demonstrated by the advent of George I of Hanover. When the throne was vacant with no obvious line of succession, it was the majority wish of the Westminster Parliament to invite George, much against the wishes of the Scots. Nothing much has changed in the past three centuries.