I HAVE not seen the Outlander portrayal of “Bonnie Prince Charlie”, castigated by author Michael Nevin (Outlander blasted for portrayal of prince, The National, December 29), but do not doubt he is right to call for “a re-appraisal of the character and career” of Prince Charles Edward Stuart.

Let’s start by consigning the demeaning title “Bonnie Prince Charlie” to the toybox/bin. I have always understood that “Charlie” is an Anglophone corruption of the Gaelic “Tearlach” (a “proper Charlie” is also a somewhat old-fashioned term for a fool ... ). No doubt he was a fine-looking man too, but “Bonnie” is best saved for lassies and babies.

The task will not be easy, as Lauderism (Harry), shortbread tinnery and sentimental drivel such “your wee bit hill and glen” bedevil Scotland’s understanding of our history; add in alcohol and wha’, indeed, is like us?

Dumbing down your national story in an attempt to part tourists from their cash is not unique to Scotland, of course – although our emporiums of tat do sometimes seem to be “world-class” (another populist delusion of those who have usually seen little of the world.

As we progress towards independence and a return to Europe – as one its earliest nation states – let us try to discourage the tendency to infantilise our tremendous history. Charles Edward Stuart was a brave and intelligent – if flawed (aren’t we all?) – leader, claiming his birthright from German interlopers. Prions Tearlach deserves respect and rehabilitation as one of our greatest national heroes.

David Roche

Coupar Angus

DR Donald Smith’s letter published in Thursday’s National, in which he stated that his New Year resolution for 2021 was to re-assert his identity as a Scottish citizen, expressed the sentiments of every right-thinking Scot clearly and succinctly. We would all do well to adopt his resolution.

If enough of us do, forget referendums, we will have independence. On a technical detail, the decaying and dangerously radioactive nuclear submarines are at Rosyth. The operational ones are on the Clyde.

James Paterson


BRAVO Donald Smith, your command of language resonated with me, the words you chose have strengthened my resolve and commitment to our cause and I am almost tearful in feeling the power you have.

Elizabeth Dickinson

via email

BREXIT is, of course, for the UK an exercise in economic self-harm, but for the ideologues in the Tory Party its a price worth paying. Taking Back Control, they shout. Though so far they have not even managed to control the flow of the desperate in the dinghies trying to negotiate the English Channel.

However, Brexit does open up an intriguing prospect, the re-emergence of a pattern of international relations that took shape over a few hundred years between late medieval and early modern Scotland. That of a distinctive Scottish geopolitical framework.

We in the Scottish independence movement should not forget, when geopolitical shove comes to push, what has allowed us to gather together and campaign together, and when Covid is no longer an existential threat to will, allow us to mobilise together in our thousands and tens of thousands.

Put simply, in the Europe of the 21st century, an independent Scotland is no longer a potential back door into England for Johnny Foreigner, whether he be Valois French, Habsburg Spanish or a wee man in a bicorne hat.

Merry Old England wants to go its own way, and for the tin ears of the political centre, 2019’s General Election in England confirmed it. Scotland is now not just different but irrevocably so.

Recently, during a seminar, I asked the question why there appears to be (a reader may correct me) a paucity of historical works on Scottish foreign policy of the 14th to 17th centuries. From the largely Scottish audience, for many of whom the journey from No to Yes is still ongoing and bumpy, there was no answer.

It was only later that I answered my own question. Scottish history from the late medieval into the early modern period is mainly about Anglo-Scottish relations in the morning, in the afternoon and in the evening too, although the wholesale destruction of most Scottish state papers, in those times or soon after, has not helped proper analysis, as I found out in my own honours year.

At another seminar in 2013, with my tongue firmly in my cheek, I posited the notion that maybe Scotland has no distinctive geopolitical characteristics. The panellists, mainly Scots Gilmorehill alumni who had been something in the UK security establishment, were not at all amused. Thankfully, the assembled post and undergraduates in the audience, along with some foreign guests, got the joke.

However, we all ken noo, or at least we should, particularly our own (as they ultimately must be) expendable B team at Westminster.

Bill Ramsay

via email