On 16 April 1746, Bonnie Prince Charlie’s forces were defeated at Culloden, thus ending all real hopes of the Stuart monarchy being returned to the throne. Alas, the Hanoverian usurpers were secure in their power, and were succeeded by the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha in 1901.
Because the monarchy is fairly adept at surviving, it renamed itself the House of Windsor during the First World War, so as not to be associated with the German enemy.
Last week, at their party conference, the Scottish National Party (SNP) supported a motion for a massive redistribution of the money being spent on the royals, proposing instead that it be “spent on the wider public good.” Are we witnessing a new Jacobite uprising? Perhaps not, but it is a nice comparison: once more, we Scots are determined to undermine the British monarchy.
Though independence would be potentially disastrous and the SNP are not the saints some think they are (just look at the state of the Scottish education system) this proposal should be welcomed. The monarchy is outdated and unnecessary, and the arguments that they bring in money via tourism and other avenues are unfounded (and irrelevant as democracy should take precedence over tawdry tourist traps).
The SNP’s proposal specifically targets the Sovereign Grant Act of 2011 which has seen many millions go to the royal family from the profits of the Crown Estate. If we are truly serious as a nation about improving life chances and reducing levels of poverty, taking from the rich and giving to the poor could be a start. Whether the rich in general should be taxed more may be a thorny issue, but there is a clear answer as to whether we should take money which, for all we know, goes towards buying Prince Charles plants to have philosophical discussions with: Let them eat cake. Give the money to desperately underfunded hospitals and (better yet) SNP-ruined schools instead.
There should, however, be some sympathy for the view espoused by one of the SNP conference speakers, Graeme McCormick, who stated that this proposition was “mealy-mouthed” and that a proper discussion should be had about the place of the monarchy. This is a valid point – the dissolution of the monarchy, which, after all, will one day be headed by Charles, homeopath fan as well as talker to plants, should be something more widely spoken about.
Perhaps one day Scottish independence will look like a good thing – a democratic, republican Scotland with ties completely cut off from the Saxe-Coburgs (sorry, Windsors), with good economic and political prospects. Until then, Scotland would be better remaining part of the UK, but republicans from Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland should keep making the case for the British Republic.
Image: damini nath via flikr