AS the new reign of a new monarch began, one of the first announcements from Buckingham Palace on Thursday after the Queen’s death was that her successor “will be known as King Charles III”.

This might, of course, have been a normal piece of palace protocol. King George VI was Prince Bertie until he ascended the throne and had to call himself something else. His elder brother King Edward VIII was Prince David before he in his turn got summoned to a higher station.

Their father, King George V, had in his own regnal title been urged by his grandmother Queen Victoria to commemorate her late husband Prince Albert but neither here nor anywhere else in the whole royal house were there any takers.

Monarchs need to be practical people, creating as few awkward precedents for the future as possible, often in awkward circumstances demanding a speedy solution.

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The royal title has, with this present succession, become potentially more controversial than any in the last two centuries. With the other examples just mentioned, the choice has ultimately lain with the succeeding prince, with his preferences, less often with his affections.

The impression the choice will make on opinion among the people of Scotland is also a necessary part of the process (even though nobody actually says so). We can state the novel principle with reasonable certainty because we know the process started more than 70 years ago when Queen Elizabeth came to the throne.

There had already been arguments in Scotland about the prospective attitudes of the House of Windsor to its four kingdoms, and theirs to it.

By the time the Queen arrived in Edinburgh for her first state visit in June 1953, it was obvious that a conclusion had been reached, but in a backroom somewhere. She came out for the procession round the capital in a normal day dress with no robes or regalia of any kind. As for the Scottish crown, she left it on its plinth in Edinburgh Castle.

She and Prince Philip still got a warm welcome as they drove on a route through the streets to a service at St Giles’ Cathedral. But the welcome would beyond doubt have been even warmer if they had looked like a queen and her consort rather than like a couple who just happened to have picked up a carriage somewhere (as today any old tourist can do).

It must have been a valid discussion because, in an era when critical discussion of royalty was taboo, the press and other forums filled with dissent on whether the royal couple had made the right choice in coming to the celebration dressed as they were.

I once myself had a discussion in the Lyon Office where it was agreed that on any such future occasions the matter would need to be addressed again.

But as, year by year, the seven decades of the reign proceeded, this was not a matter of any pressing urgency. Now the seven decades have passed and the reign is over. This is a turn of events with many consequences big and small, among which, the proper title of the king in Scotland.

The people who ponder such questions are not often of a progressive disposition, and their answer would probably have been that the title should be what it had always been.

But the world has moved on, and the automatic answer of 1954 will have changed, too, assuming we ask the right question. There is, after all, now an alternative to the answer of 1954. Scots today have different feelings about the monarchy and some of them have started to look for words that will express that difference. What was right for James VI may no longer be right for Charles III.

The exercise may still come in useful if, before long in an independent nation, we need to write a constitution with definable differences from the terminology and usages of the past.

For instance, in the old, independent Scotland before the Union of the Crowns one of the titles used by the monarchs was “James, King of Scots”.

Compared to later usage, this omits the number and keeps the ethnic designation intact, because that was how it had been in Latin, “Scottorum Basileus”.

The type of kingship moving on from 1954 may become especially acceptable if its language is constructed out of Scottish usages that people try to reproduce rather than out of English usages that are in practice becoming obsolete.

Otherwise we are merely contributing to the memory of Scottish monarchy. That is indeed the oldest part of our nationhood, dating from the time of Kenneth MacAlpin and the original Union of the Picts and Scots in 843. This may be hard to conjure up today but for our remotest ancestors the most authentic element of our nationality remained the most worth preserving in titles.

This may not be a point of view popular in modern Scotland, where more vehement arguments are expended in favour of a republican constitution with no tradition behind it. It may owe most to the futile efforts at state-building made in the failed states of Eastern Europe during the 20th century.

Scotland is perhaps a less monarchist nation than England, but that is not really saying much in relation to the most monarchist nation on Earth, if we may judge from the extravagant mourning for Elizabeth by the River Thames in London and alongside numerous salty outlets.

Even in Scotland’s lesser level of public support, moderate monarchists are still far ahead of the republican minority. That also points out the best place to look for a future constitution.