HAS the royal train trip really damaged the case for Scottish independence, as Daily Mail columnist Sarah Vine claims?

Or does this bizarre claim embody everything that’s wrong with rule by an empty-headed London bubble?

Of course, there are supporters of the monarchy in Scotland – though not as many as elsewhere in the UK. Kate and Wills are probably decent human beings as royals go and it does injure Scottish traditions of hospitality to rebuff visitors.

But the arguments against this short, “morale-boosting visit” vastly outweigh any shaky advantages.

For starters, the trip north has broken Covid rules about border travel. We know the Cambridges were reminded about the ban before they set off, so we also know they think those rules don’t matter or don’t apply to them. Now, perhaps that’s what being a royal is all about – ignoring rules that apply to everyone else. But in Scotland that’s never been a good look, and during a pandemic it looks terrible. Wills would have understood that if his dad had learned anything from the uproar created by his own lockdown trip to Deeside (plus entourage) while he was Covid positive – the first royal to recklessly break the “little people’s” rules.

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But Charles evidently learned nothing, turning a well-developed deaf ear to all criticism of his Deeside trip, preferring instead to believe that the welcome he received from paid staff at Balmoral somehow typified the true feelings of the whole country. Newsflash – there’s a whole other world beyond the forced smiles, paid retainers, red carpets, deep-cleaned loos and doffed caps that count as “normal” for royalty. Most of us assumed the younger Windsors probably realised that. Our mistake. Like father, like son.

The second surprise that is no surprise, is the endless capacity of the mainstream media, particularly the BBC, to look at an ill-advised, Covid rule-breaking trip by royals and see instead a story of selfless dedication to the “national” good.

This is as annoying as such coverage always is – it could also have serious consequences. Two London-based friends were immediately in touch with me, convinced that cross-border travel must now be OK – not just because Kate and Wills had made that very trip but, crucially, because news coverage wouldn’t sully its gushing, worshipful tone to include the FACT that the royal trip broke regulations.

BBC worship and royal worship. Put them together and you get an assurance of probity and permission more solid than a gold-plated American Express card.

If the BBC thinks Kate and Wills did a good thing visiting Scotland and Wales – even intelligent Scots living down south can easily be suckered by this Big Gush.

In London, it seems only cranks and folk personally related to stubborn donkey-jacket-wearing Michael Foot or the unbowing Jeremy Corbyn, have any big problems with the royals. And since “opinion formers” in the Big Smoke dinnae get out much, they don’t realise royal scepticism is a real, living, mainstream outlook in Scotland and that a greater belief in the importance of solidarity “up north” makes royal transgressions much less forgive and forgettable.

But the royal trip also demonstrates the mistaken London bubble belief that grumpy Scots are easily placated by visits and personal attention. Like wailing bairns too long away from the reassuring face of mum beaming love and attention, Scots just need trips north, smiles, protestations of love and affection and socially distanced cuddles from representatives of the Ultimate National Mother – “our” Queen.

This is totally wrong.

Just because the Queen’s offspring have titles suggesting dominion over and compliance from large tracts of the country they don’t inhabit or regularly visit, they shouldn’t fool themselves.

Most folk will never be rude to their faces, but that shouldn’t be confused for consent, enthusiastic support for monarchy or approval for using Balmoral as a mini-Vatican – a tiny royal, self-governing statelet, in which the rules that govern the rest of Scotland do not apply.

Mind you, how are Kate and Wills to know?

They got no warning signals from Prince Charles and no alarm bells rang after the summer love-bombing trips of Prince Boris, when the broadcast media suggested that only a tiny warped minority had any problem with his summer visits.

Au contraire, the prevailing vibe was that the PM had gone well beyond the call of duty by spending his precious holiday in a land of man-eating midges and ungrateful nationalists.

Bizarrely, what all concerned seemed to take from this was that Scotland needs more visits from the great and good – though maybe not from the tousled toff himself – and perhaps that led to the conclusion that sending some relatively young and innocent royals north might do the trick instead.


READ MORE: Sarah Vine claims royal tour has damaged Nicola Sturgeon's independence hopes

What Boris, the Tories, the London press and the royals could easily have learned from 2020 was a very different reality – supported by ever worsening opinion poll ratings for the Prime Minister north of the Border. The more he imposes himself on Scotland, the more Scots get to view his outlook, behaviour, presumptions, evasions, policies and bumptious visog, the less Scots like him.

It’s not fair is it?

THE more voters have seen of Nicola Sturgeon, the more highly they rate her. How on earth does that work?

Here’s a suggestion that will doubtless seem extraordinary and perverse to the great strategists of No 10 and Buck House. Look at election results. Over the last few decades.

When a party is resoundingly rejected over and over again in almost every part of Scotland, election after election, one might reasonably predict that more visits by its leader will result in less approval, especially when “special” trips simply draw attention to the cocooned southern nature of his “normal” surroundings.

And since more than half of Scotland is of a mind to exit the failing British state completely, the same goes for its self-important figureheads – no matter how young and personable.

Poor Kate and Wills.

No handy advice from dad, no useful self-awareness from the boss.

If the great thinkers of the London establishment think more exposure to unelected Lords, Ladies, Dukes, Barons, Princes, Queens will generate more approval for Britain’s uniquely elitist idea of itself – they are hopelessly wrong.

If they are planning more Scottish visits by a Prime Minister intent on an unwanted Brexit and dismantling devolution – they are mad.

And if Kate and Wills think they can usefully adopt any of the templates for wooing Scots laid down by their privileged elders, they are making a bad mistake.

It’s the blind leading the blind.

Scots are not pouting bairns, looking for more attention.

We are not difficult teenagers, going through a phase.

We are not grumpy miserabilists predisposed to bite the hand that feeds.

The real situation isn’t that difficult to understand.

Scots want Home Rule not London Rule.

And just as the Nordic countries now co-operate on everything from energy distribution to defence as independence countries, so a future independent Scotland will be a cheerier place for neighbouring royals and politicians to visit once our democracy sits safely in our own hands – not theirs.

No offence.

It’s a freedom thing.