by Colin Campbell
MANY nationalists detest the Royal family and would get rid of them tomorrow if they could. They see them as being at the very apex of the “English establishment”, living a life of grossly excessive privilege.
The only grossly excessive privilege that’s acceptable in their eyes in the poshest parts of London is the likes of Ian Blackford, Drew Hendry and other SNP MPs raking in millions in fat salaries and vast expenses while pretending to want to leave it all behind for the cause of independence.
They’ve also never forgiven the Queen for giving Highland journalist Jim Lawson the scoop of his life in 2014 when she walked over to him and other people gathered outside Crathie Church and said, days before the last referendum, that she hoped people would “think very carefully about the future”.
That oblique intervention was seen as a strong hint that she did not want to see her country ripped apart, a gross betrayal in the eyes of fervent nationalists which still festers like an open wound.
Now we have seen a manufactured grievance against Prince William and his wife for having the audacity to make a goodwill visit to Scotland to express their gratitude to NHS workers on the coronavirus frontline.
The tone was set by Nicola Sturgeon when she frostily said of the visit that the Scottish Government “made sure the Royal Household were aware, as you would expect, of the restrictions in place in Scotland so that could inform both the decision and the planning of the visit”.
This barely coded message elicited a rancorous outpouring of bile and spite online from nationalists who made their contempt and loathing for the Royal couple who one day will be King and Queen of Scotland all too clear.
Why did our own Queen Nicola have to make an issue out of this? Couldn’t she just have looked the other way without making remarks which she must have known would have stirred up a fevered reaction among some of her supporters.
There was of course a time when Nicola Sturgeon was viewed with regal adulation herself. When she visited Inverness five years ago crowds thronged the entire High Street to try and get a glimpse of her. I stood on a bench a few yards away as she was completely hemmed in by adoring fans who wanted to shake her hand or even touch the exalted hem of her dress.
The very luckiest managed to get selfies with her. She spent more than half an hour soaking it all up without moving from the spot, before police and her security people eventually forged a way out for her, and it wasn’t easy.
It was remarkably unlike any political visit ever seen here before. Tony Blair at the very height of his early prime ministerial popularity didn’t even come close to generating such a reaction.
Would she get the same treatment today? I very much doubt it. Queen Nicola’s lustre has faded. Too much grievance, too many scowls, too much divisiveness and now too strong a stench of potential scandal surrounds her.
A visit to Inverness by Prince William and Kate Middleton would, in a Covid free world, however, see people turning out in their thousands. And goodwill and affection would pour out upon them.
The mood of bile and spite directed at the future king and qeen that we’ve seen in the past couple of days does not reflect general opinion. I doubt if Sturgeon’s sour outlook on their well intentioned visit to Scotland is shared by very many people.
Queen Nicola’s regal status is by contrast in rapid decline. She may return to being a commoner before the end of next year. Many within her own party seem to want that outcome sooner rather than later. Then she can be as frosty faced towards the royals as she wants to be, but no one may be paying any attention.