THE Metropolitan Police force is a beleaguered organisation and yet alarmingly its status makes it a bellwether for policing across the UK. We all live within its compromised sphere of influence.

Burdened by successive failures ­including the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence and more recently the gruesome killing of ­Sarah Everard by a serving officer, the Met’s size and its proximity to power means that its ­actions and reputation taint all police ­forces.

A BBC investigation in the aftermath of Sarah Everard’s death has already exposed fall-out here in Scotland where, in the last four years, more than 100 Police Scotland officers have been investigated over sexual misconduct claims. A total of 106 officers faced misconduct cases in relation to 181 allegations between 2017 and 2021.

To their credit Police Scotland has ­subsequently launched a campaign video called Don’t Be That Guy which ­addresses misogyny and sexism as a ­gateway to ­sexual violence. It’s an impressive piece of modern communication.

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The Police Scotland video campaign came days after the Met had attracted even more opprobrium when they ­decided to take no further action over Virginia ­Giuffre’s allegations of sexual assault against Prince Andrew. Whilst the ­likelihood is a lack of substantial evidence, many observers saw it as an institutional convenience and further evidence of the Met not making crimes involving women’s safety a priority.

So its back to the New York courts, where Prince Andrew has still to face civil accusations he sexually assaulted ­Virginia Giuffre. Prince Andrew’s catastrophic decision to try to deflect the charges on network television in the court of Emily Maitlis has not helped his case, nor has hiding behind his mum’s curtains.

It now seems certain that Prince ­Andrew’s royal career has come to a ­demeaning end. His most recent ­humiliation is literally being airbrushed out of history, failing to appear in the ­official royal photograph of his own daughter’s wedding. Even Stalinist Russia was kinder to old photos with Lenin and Trotsky on show.

There is now every likelihood that ­Andrew will be excluded from his ­mother’s forthcoming Platinum Jubilee celebrations and will become persona non grata when royal sinecures and ­responsibilities are handed out. Yet his mother’s royal wealth has already paid for expensive lawyers and Andrew’s urgent ­financial needs.

It’s a distasteful pageantry of privilege. When Prince Harry left the royal family for Hollywood he was required to ­relinquish his honorary military ­titles, and yet Andrew is still clinging on to the ­prestigious role of Colonel of the ­Grenadier Guards, when a more ­self-aware figurehead would have quietly resigned.

Although Victoria Giuffre’s accusations have hastened Prince Andrew’s fall from grace, his own self-centred arrogance has been at the rotten core of his decline, one palace insider recently dismissed him as a “self-important bore”.

I have to confess to a long-standing ­prejudice. I have long suspected that Prince Andrew is a crushing ­liability to public life and distrusted the man long ­before he met the disgraced ­billionaire ­Jeffrey Epstein. In my younger days I could do rants about his so-called ­helicopter heroism in the Falkland’s War that would have shamed Frankie Boyle.

Scotland has been an important ­background character in Andrew’s ­decline too. As the legal noose tightened, he travelled from London to Balmoral to hide from the spotlight, to move in with his maw and beg a few million pounds pocket money.

Balmoral is now officially a royal hidey-hole, sufficiently far from the London media to allow the errant prince to hide behind the drapes of the monarchy or his late father to dive erratically around the estate.

My personal dislike for the shady prince is now more widely shared. A ­recent YouGov poll showed that 69% of Britons consider Prince Andrew to be a dislikeable figure and those demographics become even more damning for younger age groups.

What is not yet clear is whether the ­departure of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, along with the public humiliation of Prince Andrew, will bring further ­decline in the certainties of the royal ­family. Many sense that with the inevitable ­passing of the Queen floodgates of change will open. Others argue that the palace is a cunning and powerful institution that is already prepared for seismic times.

NOW don’t drop your bacon roll on the kitchen floor in surprise when I tell you I am one of the many thousands of Scots that are benignly willing the royal family into extinction. I have always subscribed to James Connolly’s famous phrase – “A people poisoned by the adulation of royalty can never attain social freedom”.

As the Prince Andrew scandal ­rumbles on, and the Queen lives out her later years, it is an opportune time to take stock of the royal family and what they mean to modern Scotland.

Even the most cynical republican would feel forced to admit that the Queen has had a remarkable innings. This week for the first time she appeared in ­public aided by a walking stick. Her old age has given her a new layer of ­protection, the death of her husband ­bequeathing a ­solemn ­widowhood which carries ­genuine ­emotional weight making her seem ­immune from criticism.

It is not so long ago, in the aftermath of the death of Diana, that the Queen was widely portrayed as an emotionally cold and detached old crone. Now she is beyond reproach gilded by age, endurance and the power for familiarity.

Last week European royalty crossed another Rubicon. Although the Netherlands was the first country to legalise same-sex marriage, laws stopped short of extending gay lifestyles to the Dutch royal family, if an heir wanted to marry someone of the same sex, they would have to forfeit their right to the throne. That ­position changed last Tuesday when Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Dutch princess, Catharina-Amalia Beatrix ­Carmen Victoria (above), could marry someone of any gender without fear of ­relinquishing the crown.

It is a move that raises fascinating speculations for an independent Scotland were it led by an SNP-Green coalition. Would the remnants of the royal family enjoy the same gender identification rights as the wider citizenship and what hereditary anomalies would unfold if Prince Charles decided to self-identify as a woman? Twitter would explode and demands would ring out for proof of a royal cervix.

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The waspish side of my personality says bring it on, but a more likely scenario is that the royal family will become the constitutional equivalent of a protected ­species. Like the Ospreys at the Loch of the Lowes Wildlife Reserve, the Windsors will be given special protection in Scotland and will appear seasonally to the delight of tourists and royal watchers.

In the White Paper published in the context of the first referendum there was a settled proposal that the Queen would remain as head of state in an independent Scotland. It was a compromise position unloved by many but seen as a necessary trade-off for mostly older voters who value residual aspects if the royal family.

Whilst the demographics of the over-50s still cleave predominantly towards a No vote, it is a compromise that will almost certainly survive next time round too.

With an arm twisted up my back I agree with the softly-softly approach purely on pragmatic grounds and only to get a Yes vote over the line. But I keep returning to the milestone where Scotland now stands – compromising its democracy in order to gain its democracy.