FOLLOWING my letter (June 20) criticising the Duchess of Cambridge's involvement in issues of child development research, David Gray and Ian W Thomson (Letters, June 21) suggest I have been rather unfair and harsh. I view her involvement as what I would call the glossy-magazine approach to serious issues – a few photo-ops, headlines and the like, just like William's selling of Big Issues (with the obligatory baseball cap), all attracting a bit of attention but making not a whit of difference in the longer term. Aided and abetted, of course, by governments whose attention span is dominated by short-term electoral prospects. All the while, the fairy-story mystique of princes and princesses sinks more and more into the public consciousness, cultivating our fawning blindness a little bit more.

Mr Gray asks what I would have the Duchess do instead – "say nothing and continue to enjoy a life of quiet privilege?". Anyone following the drift of my comments will realise that my preference would be not to have the ludicrous edifice of royalty at all, so we would not have these futile gestures. The Cambridges' recent jaunt to the Caribbean – labelled as a "white-saviour parody'" – produced an image that was, for me, emblematic of the royals' utter disconnection from the real lived experience of the people they encounter, when it showed them making contact with the outstretched fingers of Jamaican children through a wire fence.

The paradoxes, contradictions and hypocrisy implicit in all this is aptly pointed out by Hilary Shearer (Letters, June 21)who reminds us that the Cambridges' elder son, from the age of six, has been an observer at grouse shoots with his father. All part of the lifestyle, I guess, with its necessary developmental experiences.

Dr Angus Macmillan, Dumfries.


ON a recent holiday I noticed the cruise ship Spirit of Discovery, docked at Mahon. On doing some research I discovered that this is one of two sister ships ordered by the Saga Group in October 2015 from a German shipyard, Meyer Werft. It carries 1,000 passengers.

There is of course another ship which is also one of two ordered in October 2015 and which also carries 1,000 passengers (in somewhat less palatial surroundings), the long-awaited Glen Sannox. A comparison between these two ships is instructive.

At 58,250 Gross Tonnage (GT), Spirit Of Discovery dwarfs the 7,040 GT Glen Sannox, yet the £346 million cost of the ship is less than three times that of Glen Sannox.

When the build programmes are reviewed the comparison becomes really interesting.

The first steel for the Glen Sannox was cut nine weeks after the contract with Ferguson Marine was signed. The equivalent duration for Spirit of Discovery was 29 months. Is there something in the adage "failing to plan is planning to fail"?

The Spirit of Discovery was delivered to its operator on June 24, 2019, less than 16 months after the first steel was cut. In contrast, the latest anticipated date for Glen Sannox being handed over is around May 2023, almost 7.5 years after the first steel was cut. A ship more than eight times larger than Glen Sannox was built in less than one-fifth of the time.

This comparison highlights the scale of the national embarrassment that the procurement of these two ferries represents. On March 31 the First Minister said: “We will learn lessons from this.”

Surely the most important lesson must be that a private sector company, with competent and accountable management, delivers efficiently while safeguarding shareholders funds and promptly delivering a return on their investment. In contrast, multiple layers of unaccountable public sector bureaucracy attempting to deliver a range of objectives set by politicians (which go far beyond that of providing the means by which a reliable ferry service can be maintained) is incapable of satisfactory delivery or of safeguarding tax payers funds.

George Rennie, Inverness.


THANK you for continuing to publish Stuart Waiton’s thoughts, including "Ban on transgender conversion therapy erodes family freedoms" (The Herald, June 22).

Thomas Reid (1710-1796) was Professor of Moral Philosophy at Glasgow University from 1764 -1781. No doubt he will be regarded by some as a former privileged Christian white male whose thoughts are therefore worthless today. However. he wrote: "If there are certain principles, as I think there are, which the constitution of our nature leads us to believe, and which we are under a necessity to take for granted in the common concerns of life, without being able to give a reason for them – these are what we call the principles of common sense; and what is manifestly contrary to them, is what we call absurd.”

Rev Dr Robert Anderson, Dundonald.


IN March 2020 Bill Gates said of the coronavirus that its “infectiousness and fatality put it in that super scary range”. But recently at the TIME100 Event in New York he appeared to distance himself from that hysteria, saying “we didn't understand that it's a fairly low fatality rate and that it's a disease mainly of the elderly, kind of like the flu”. Strange that he claims that they didn't understand till recently because I'm no scientist and I wrote my first letter questioning the Covid narrative as early as May 2020, followed by scores more letters.

Perhaps one day Al Gore, John Kerry and Nicola Sturgeon will be saying “climate change has not been as bad as we thought”.

Geoff Moore, Alness.


GIVEN all the hoo-haa around the current state of “the gowf”, or golf if you’re not from Ayrshire ("Koepka poised to join Saudi tour defectors", Herald Sport, June 22), may I bring to your attention the following passage from the late Alistair Cooke’s book The Americans: The Money Game, July 1, 1977, p240-241? He states: “Three years ago, Jack Nicklaus and – it seemed then – his heir apparent, Johnny Miller, were offered one million dollars to the winner of a head-to-head eighteen-hole game. One million dollars in one afternoon. They promptly turned it down as being, in Nicklaus’s words ‘not in the best interests of the the game’. May their tribe increase.”

How times and attitudes have changed.

Derek Foard, Culbokie.


IN reply to David Miller’s letter (June 22) I ask why spelling of a simple Gaelic word should be adapted for easy pronunciation in English. Following his reasoning I must order a merang in a cafay in order to help English understanding.

Dorothy Dennis, Port Ellen, Islay.