A COMPLAINT about James IV being labelled the last “British” king to die in battle has been dismissed by a prestigious institution.

The Royal College of Surgeons confirmed a complaint had been made about a panel displayed in the Surgeons’ Hall Museum in Edinburgh but following a review had decided the description should remain.

The panel hangs beside a painting of James IV, who lost his life along with thousands of his countrymen in the Battle of Flodden in 1513.

Before his untimely death, his great interest in science led him to grant a Royal Charter for the Royal College of Surgeons, one of the oldest medical organisations in the world.

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The panel in the museum reads: “On 1 July 1505 the town council of Edinburgh granted the Incorporation of Surgeons and Barbers a Seal of Cause. This legal document was issued to craft guilds as a founding charter.

“The Incorporation’s Seal of Cause was ratified on 13th October 1506 by a Royal Charter granted by King James IV of Scotland.

“He was keenly interested in medical science and evidence suggests that he actually practiced [sic] some surgery and dentistry himself. James IV was killed at the Battle of Flodden in 1513, the last British monarch to die on the battlefield.”

A spokesperson for the college said: “We can confirm we have received a complaint about this panel from one visitor and after reviewing the panel internally and seeking expert external advice we felt that the passage in question was fair and explained this outcome to the complainant.”

The National: King James IV

She added: “The small section of the panel which refers to King James IV does make it very clear that James IV was a King of Scotland. The section in which we use the term British is a geographical shorthand reference to the fact that he was the last of any of the monarchs to fall in battle from the British Isles.”

However, Robert Beveridge of Edinburgh who made the complaint told The National he did not accept their explanation, adding that he was offended at their use of the word “British”.

“I believe James himself would have also been offended at being so described,” he said. “I also think their response should have been more respectful of their founder and it would have been easy to change the wording.

“They seem to think that because only one person complains, it can be dismissed. I cannot understand why they are digging their heels in on such a matter. What is their motivation?

“It’s a matter of truth. James was Scottish, not British. Also, James was King of Scots, not King of Scotland. They get that wrong too! How can we trust them to be accurate?”

He has been backed by The National’s history writer Hamish MacPherson. “Mr Beveridge is quite right – James IV was never British other than the fact that he was born on the island of Great Britain,” he said.

“The first British monarch was Queen Anne, confirmed as such by the Acts of Union in 1707. The Royal College should make clear that James was Scotland’s king when he was killed at Flodden in 1513. He was indeed the last king from the nations that make up the United Kingdom to die on the battlefield.”

Professor Murray Pittock of Glasgow University said that while calling James IV a British king was “technically accurate in a geographical sense”, it was “potentially confusing in a historical one”.

However, Tom Devine, Professor Emeritus at the University of Edinburgh, said: “It could be suggested that ‘British’ meant all those who sat on the Scottish and English thrones until 1603 when monarchs became kings and queens of Britain. By those criteria, James was indeed the last to die in battle.”