Royals would be ‘foolish’ to get dragged into Scottish independence debate, says Alex Salmond

Alba leader asks ‘what on earth Prince William was doing’ meeting Gordon Brown last week

Adam Forrest
Monday 31 May 2021 16:35
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Related video: Nicola Sturgeon claims referendum on Scottish independence ‘will of the country’

Scotland’s former first minister Alex Salmond has warned Prince William and other members of the royal family to keep out the debate on Scottish independence.

The Alba Party leader spoke out after former prime minister Gordon Brown – who recently launched a campaign to save the union – held a meeting with the Duke of Cambridge last week.

Mr Salmond questioned “what on earth Prince William thought he was doing” by meeting Mr Brown, arguing that it would be “foolish” for him to get dragged into the debate over a second referendum.

The Alba leader claimed the get-together in Edinburgh showed “poor judgement” on both sides, suggesting “desperate unionists” like Mr Brown were trying to influence the future king on politics.

“We should have no hesitation in seeing from that meeting, unionist preparation for attempting to persuade a constitutional monarchy to intervene in a constitutional debate,” the nationalist politician told supporters in a video message.

Mr Salmond added: “It would be very wise for the royal family to follow what has been the Queen’s example over her long reign, to keep the monarchy over and above politics, and it would be foolish to have a situation in which it can be said that the monarchy is involved in the Scottish constitutional debate.

“The Brown meeting shows poor judgement on both sides but the same degree of unscrupulous unionist desperation. The independence team should take note.”

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s private meeting with Mr Brown and his wife Sarah at the Palace of Holyroodhouse on Thursday was mentioned in the court circular – but there were no details on the topics discussed.

The former Labour prime minister recently launched a campaign to maintain the union, as the SNP prepares to push for a “legal” referendum vote on independence.

Mr Brown has urged Boris Johnson to set up a constitutional inquiry, create a new forum for leaders of the four devolved nations, and consider greater powers for the Scottish government.

Prince William held a meeting with Nicola Sturgeon last Saturday during his week-long tour of Scotland, and also met Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael when opening a new hospital in Orkney.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge watch Highland dancers at Holyroodhouse

A Kensington Palace spokesperson said: “During his time in Scotland Prince William has spoken to a broad range of people from different communities, including politicians from across the political spectrum.”

The SNP has promised that Nicola Sturgeon’s government will put forward a “detailed white paper” on Scottish independence plans soon.

But Ms Sturgeon and her ministers have said their push for a second referendum would not begin until Scotland was past the Covid crisis.

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