IF they follow exactly the instructions that accompany it, then thousands of Scots in possession of a European Parliament election postal vote better start making arrangements to head to Berwick-upon-Tweed or Carlisle.

For in many areas of Scotland, the “quick advice” note on how to use a postal vote clearly shows a pillar box emblazoned with the royal cypher “EIIR” and you can only find that type of pillar box in England.

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The “quick advice” note asks voters to seal “Envelope B” containing the ballot paper and post it off to the pre-printed address on the front of the envelope. Just in case anyone doesn’t know how to post a letter – these days that’s not impossible given the preference for e-mail – there’s a diagram showing how to put the envelope in a neat wee pillar box.

Only trouble is that no such “EIIR” pillar boxes exist in Scotland for reasons which will be well known to National readers.

After the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth, came to the throne of the United Kingdom in 1952, nationalists such as John MacCormick objected to her being called “the Second” and he even took the Lord Advocate to court over the matter – the judge ruled that the Queen had the Royal prerogative to call herself whatever she wanted. Some people were so incensed at her EIIR cypher being used on pillar boxes in Scotland where there had been no previous Queen Elizabeth I that they took direct action, and the so-called “pillar box war” resulted in vandalism and even an explosion that destroyed one box in Edinburgh.

That box in the Inch housing estate in the south of Edinburgh had come to public attention because it was the first pillar box in Scotland to bear the new royal cypher EIIR. The official opening ceremony with police on guard was widely publicised and It was duly vandalised before being blown apart by a gelignite bomb on February 12, 1953.

Local people made it clear they would have no truck with an EIIR box so since 1954, all pillar boxes in Scotland have carried simply the Scottish crown, except for one ‘English’ box that mysteriously appeared in Dunoon last summer.

That one was swiftly replaced by a standard Scottish box after The National revealed its existence.

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There are no “EIIR” boxes in Scotland any more so if you really are a stickler for detail and do exactly what you are told then you’ll have to go to England to find such a box. The mistake was spotted by an eagle-eyed National reader who wants to remain anonymous.

“Union Jackery has now infected the EU Elections,” said the reader. “Postal voting instructions show a pillar box with the EIIR crest not the Scottish Crown. Due to Nationalist action at the start of her reign it was agreed that all pillar boxes in Scotland would not display EIIR.

“Shame whoever put together the instructions weren’t aware of this convention.”

The National has subsequently found that election offices across Scotland have used the diagram in their advice notes, with Glasgow, Dumfries and Galloway, and Scottish Borders among those using the “wrong” pillar box.

A local government expert told The National: “As with so many of these things, there is a centralised approach to such forms, but each local authority is ultimately responsible for its own postal votes and election literature and the wonder is that no one has spotted it and complained before.

“People need not really worry about going to England to post their vote, but hopefully the election officials will correct the advice before the next election or independence referendum.”

All postal votes must be received by 10pm on May 23, the day of the European Parliament elections. Unlike some previous plebiscites we could mention, there is no possibility of any jiggery-pokery as they will not be counted until after the polling stations close, with no “sample openings” planned as happened in September, 2014.