Scottish museum opened by Queen

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UNFAZED BY an ancient trumpet with a dragon-like head and flapping tongue appearing behind her, the Queen opened the pounds 64m Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh yestersday, neatly rounding off a 40-year project on the last St Andrew's Day before home rule.

Before an assembled throng of the Scottish Establishment, Her Majesty kept the speech short and uncontroversial. The museum would be a "fitting home" for all its 10,000 magnificent objects - "a home in which to tell their story for our benefit and for the benefit and enjoyment of those who come after us".

She made no mention of the striking block-house architecture of the building on Chambers Street, nor of whether in telling Scotland's story it bolstered the nationalist cause. Some people have complained there is not enough about the independence heroes William (Braveheart) Wallace and Robert the Bruce.

In short, the Queen said nothing to ruffle Scots sensitivities and upset the finding of an opinion poll published yesterday that anti-English racism is confined to a "tiny fraction" of the population.

Only 3 per cent of Scots admitted to "disliking the English a lot", according to the poll carried out by ICM for The Scotsman newspaper. This contrasts starkly with the 67 per cent who either liked their southern neighbours "a lot, or at the very least, a little".

The poll contradicts fears of growing anti-English feeling indicated by reports of an increase in racist taunts in Scottish schools. It found that the number of Scots who liked English people had risen by three points while those who disliked them had dropped by two points. And the number who admitted to disliking the English "a little" had fallen to 7 per cent - down 1 point.

The poll also suggests that party political loyalties have little bearing on attitudes towards the English - 41 per cent of Scottish National Party (SNP) supporters claimed to like the English "a lot" despite their party's desire for independence.

However, 7 per cent of the SNP's supporters did admit to disliking the English a lot whereas only 1 per cent of Tory voters and 2 per cent of Labour and Liberal Democrats said the same. Scottish women were shown to be slightly more tolerant of the English than men.

A trip to the new museum is unlikely to change these perceptions. The approach to Scotland's story has been to tell it through wonderful objects - such as the ancient trumpet - rather than jingoism or an overdone Disney "experience".