Scottish independence: Thousands of Orange Order supporters march through Edinburgh

Around 15,000 supporters of controversial group take part in 'Proud to be British' rally

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The Independent Online

Around 15,000 Orange Order supporters and 110 Orange Lodge bands have taken to the streets of Edinburgh to show support for the union ahead of next week’s Scottish independence referendum.

Thousands of spectators were also in attendance at the “Proud to be British” rally, which set off past some of the Scottish capital’s most famous landmarks including the Parliament building and the Palace of Holyrood from its starting point in Edinburgh’s Meadows. 

Police said the march passed peacefully through the city after some fears the presence of the deeply divisive group could provoke violence. “We would like to express our sincere thanks to the public for their co-operation during what was a peaceful march,” Superintendent Phil O'Kane said.

Orange Order Grand Chaplain Henry Williamson told supporters ahead of the rally: “Brothers and sisters, in a world of instability, a world of insecurity, a world of nuclear proliferation, of radical Islam, people look to the UK as a land of hope, a land of peace, of success and unity and an example of what they so desperately long for - unity not stupidity, unity not division, unity not separation, unity not them and us.”

Edward Stevenson, grand master of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland, said: “Next year, as is a long held tradition, many of us will come over to Scotland for the annual Battle of the Boyne commemorations, and we very much hope that we will not require our passports.”

There were a large number of Yes campaign supporters who were happy to see the controversial organisation backing the union so vocally. The official No campaign also refused to publicly support the event.