THOUGH no doubt the ever-loyal BBC will broadcast something quite sickeningly obsequious by the end of the week, there appears to be precious little happening to celebrate the bicentenary of the birth of Queen Victoria.

Many Scots will probably not care a jot, but I had presumed the British Establishment would be going out of its way to commemorate the queen who was the longest-reigning monarch on the throne of the United Kingdom before the current queen beat her own great-great-grandmother’s record in 2015.

There will be those who ask why the Sunday National is featuring the bicentenary at all. Is this not pandering to a monarchy which an increasing number of Scots reject?

I have always believed that the people of Scotland are sovereign and one day, hopefully soon, our political leaders in an independent Scotland will pay more than lip service to that ideal and allow the people to be sovereign and choose whether they want a monarchy or a republic, or for that matter whether they want to be in Europe or what currency they want.

Let the sovereign people choose the future, for at the moment we have no choice but to suffer the English choice in their Westminster Parliament.

So, I hear you exclaim, if the people of Scotland are so sovereign then why remember a 19th-century queen who reigned over an empire?

The answer is that she directly affected Scotland in many ways and the history of this nation in the 19th century cannot be examined without consideration of Victoria. She and her husband Prince Albert also directly changed the face of Scotland, particularly Deeside and Edinburgh.

Born on May 24, 1819, Victoria did not at first look likely to become queen. She was the daughter of Prince Edward, the fourth son of George III.

But her grandfather and her own father died in 1820, then George IV died in 1830 and William IV died in 1837, with neither having any legitimate children so that Victoria ascended the throne at just 18. She went on to rule for 63 years and 7 months before her death on January 22, 1901, at the of age 81, her children having married into numerous royal houses – she was known as the Grandmother of Europe.

The great love of her life was her husband Prince Albert. He encouraged her to travel in an open carriage and be seen by her people, which she continued to do even after several assassination attempts.

Victoria had been brought up to think of Scotland as “hers” in a way – her father was Duke both of Kent and Strathearn, and five years after becoming queen the royal couple made the first of many visits to this country. You may say, “Why did it take her so long?” Well, consider that there had only been two visits to Scotland by a reigning monarch in the previous 200 years, and that she was pregnant and giving birth for a lot of her early reign, and you can see why Victoria was reluctant to go north. The railways were in their infancy, too.

All that changed on Thursday, September 1, 1842, when Victoria and Albert landed at Leith, and it’s fair to say both of them were smitten from the outset.

Victoria wrote: “The impression Edinburgh has made upon us is very great; it is quite beautiful, totally unlike anything else I have seen; and what is even more, Albert, who has seen so much, says it is unlike anything he ever saw … Albert said he felt sure the Acropolis could not be finer; and I hear they sometimes call Edinburgh ‘the modern Athens’.”

They were also knocked out by their reception: “The enthusiasm was very great, and the people very friendly and kind. The Royal Archers Bodyguard met us and walked with us the whole way through the town. It is composed entirely of noblemen and gentlemen, and they all walked close by the carriage; but were dreadfully pushed about.”

It was the start of an enduring love. In her person as monarch, Queen Victoria owned the Palace of Holyroodhouse and its attendant Park, which Albert would later improve by the creation of Queen’s Drive and Dunsapie and St Margaret’s lochs.

In 1842 they stayed with various noble families, but such was the effect of Scotland on them that Albert leased Balmoral in 1848, and then bought it outright in 1852, commissioning the building of a new Baronial-style castle that was completed in 1856.

This became the royal family’s holiday home, reached each summer by rail, and Victoria and Albert’s passion for Scotland and all things Scottish – he designed tartans, she loved to roam the hills on Deeside – ignited a tourist trade which grew exponentially and greatly influenced the way people viewed Scotland.

That was Victoria’s great achievement for Scotland – she made this country fashionable and people flocked here from all over. The heather and tartan imagery we could probably have done without, but there’s no doubt it sells – ask VisitScotland.

She promoted Scotland’s part of “her” empire, and was also close to many Scots, not least of whom was her manservant John Brown who cared dutifully for her after she was widowed in 1861. Was she really “Mrs Brown” as the rumours had it? I will examine that matter in a future column.

Last word to Victoria: “The romance and the wild loveliness… beloved Scotland, the proudest, finest country in the world.” Who dare argue with a queen?