MARK Gray (letters, September 16) tells us that “the events of the past week have made the people of Scotland proud to be Scottish”.

There is little doubt that Queen Elizabeth dying in Scotland ensured that Scotland’s position in the monarchical dynasty could not be ignored.

Most Scots, regardless of their constitutional leanings, will have been proud to have watched and listened to the proceedings, from Balmoral Castle to the service in St Giles’ Cathedral. It was an example of decorum throughout, yet with a moving and simple gravitas reflecting the mood of the public lining the Royal Mile.

Mr Gray says, “Our land of beauty and the story of our history were magnificent”. I agree but one cannot but wonder if Scotland would have been so recognised, had the Queen died furth of Scotland.

Turning political, Mr Gray says: “The Saltire, our national flag...has been hijacked by the SNP”, and goes on to ask “What have Sturgeon and her party done for Scotland?” In the diatribe which follows, he answers his own question.

With regard to Scotland’s ancient flag, the St Andrew’s Cross or Saltire, it has not been “hijacked” by anyone: it is the flag of Scotland and cannot be hijacked.

It is natural for the SNP as a party wanting to regain Scotland’s independence to fly the flag and in doing so debars no-one, or any other political party, from doing likewise.

The real question is, are other Scottish political parties ashamed to fly the Saltire in Scotland? They are free to do so, and it is their choice.

Alan M Morris, Blanefield, Glasgow.



YOUR correspondent Mark Gray conflates Scottishness with wearing tartan and repeats the usual Unionist litany of asserted failures of an SNP government that has won the approval of the people of Scotland in 14 successive elections.

During this period, the performance of the UK government has, in his book, presumably been without flaw.

Frustrated by our inability to see Scotland’s future the Unionist way, he proposes a grand alliance of every rag-tag party in Scotland which opposes the SNP. Were his idea to succeed, he would find himself with some very strange bed-fellows.

James Scott, Edinburgh.


IN recent days we have seen the King and Queen Consort attend formal events at Cardiff Castle and Royal Hillsborough Castle.

During the proceedings, the invited audience sang the Welsh and Northern Irish national anthems respectively, both being sung with pride and passion.

I can’t help compare this with the royal ceremonial events in Edinburgh at the start of the week, when the only national anthem we heard throughout was “God save the King”.

Back in 2006 The Herald reported that in a survey run by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, “Flower of Scotland” was declared the people’s choice for our Scottish national anthem (“Scotland the Brave” being in second place).

Around that time, a call from the First Minister, Jack McConnell, for a national debate on the subject was dismissed. I appreciate it won’t be on the “to-do” list at present, but it could well come to the fore again in the not-too-distant future.

Brian Watt, Edinburgh.



PERHAPS, like Peter Grey (letters, September 16), my parents passed down to me the theory that the monarchy would be a defence against tyranny. The idea is that, when an aspirant autocrat tries to assume dictatorial powers, the king or queen will withhold their assent and defend democracy.

Yet, in August 2019, as a new Prime Minister chosen by the votes of just 92,000 party members tried to prorogue the parliament – to prevent our elected representatives from debating the most pressing issue before them – the monarch duly approved.

It was the law courts – first the Court of Session and then the Supreme Court – that were truly able, as the anthem says, to “defend our laws”.

The separation of powers between the executive and the courts is what must be defended. The claimed separation of powers between the Prime Minister and the head of state does not exist in the United Kingdom because the hereditary monarch holds no personal mandate.

Monarchists need to find a new justification for the institution or accept, as Adam Tomkins does in his original article (September 14), that it relies purely on emotion and sentiment.

D. A. Cruickshank, Stockholm, Sweden.



NEIL Mackay’s excellent and thought-provoking article (“We need to be able to discuss abolition of the monarchy without being arrested”, September 15) was timeous and covered a subject on which I’m sure most people have fairly strong views.

Personally, I am confused and ambivalent.

It is obvious that the hereditary principle is ridiculous but the monarchy is only the most glaring example.

My confusion stems from my recollection of just how supportive and comforting the Royal Family’s presence was throughout the Second World War.

Winston Churchill provided the military strength and determination but the Royal family were in the background for reassurance and stability at all times.

For the last 70 years the late Queen Elizabeth has been a constant, steadying presence through many very difficult times.

It is quite apparent from the depth of affection and outpouring of grief that has been evident from the majority of the population that there is a strong level of support for the monarchy, which would be hard to replace.

Trying to think about leaders and presidents elsewhere, not political presidents wo were democratically elected, one can only think of generals or dictators.

In the end, supporters of republicanism have singularly failed so far to provide a list of perhaps six individuals who could be put before the electorate for selection as President.

Any time I try, I reject every thought that occurs immediately.

If one thinks of the problems of selecting and electing a Prime Minister, perhaps the status quo is best, if a little modified.

Nigel Dewar Gibb, Glasgow.



“AND there was a heightened hum, a vibration racing in the air, the equivalent in sound of twinkling light, something electric and almost visible … It was as if the town had been refreshed with a blessing.”

So wrote Paul Theroux, shortly after HM The Queen’s visit to St Andrews in 1982, in his book, The Kingdom by the Sea (1983).

Doubtless the very many subjects paying their respects in St Giles’ Cathedral and in Westminster Hall have shared a similar transformative experience: “In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed” (1 Cor. 15:52, King James Version).

Duncan McAra, Bishopbriggs.



THE disciplinary letter sent by his party hierarchy to SNP MSP John Mason epitomises clearly how the idea of freedom of speech has been corrupted in contemporary society (“MSP disciplined by SNP bosses for supporting anti-abortion protests”, September 16).

The letter seems to equate “expressing personal opinions and matters of faith” with “imposing these on others”. It demonstrates how individuals are not allowed to speak their mind if it is contrary to those who speak the loudest. Voltaire must be spinning in his grave!

Professor K.B. Scott, Stirling.



ALEXANDER McKay rebukes Patrick Harvie for the “derogatory fashion” of his speech during the King’s visit to Holyrood yet in his letter (September 16) accuses Mr Harvie of “attention-seeking”, a “lack of basic decency and good manners” and “downright nastiness”.

Perhaps I have misunderstood the meaning of the word “derogatory” – or does it only apply to comments expressed by avowed republicans or, more generally, only to those who support the right of the people of Scotland to determine their own future?

Some who seem to have a particularly one-sided view of the world around them descend into use of words such as “bile” and “hate” when criticising others expressing views with which they disagree.

Use of these words is not conducive to respectful or constructive argument and I presume Mr McKay will agree that resorting to the use of such bitter, divisive and potentially inciteful words, on either side of the constitutional debate, should be condemned.

Stan Grodynski, Longniddry, East Lothian.



ON completion of the refurbishment of Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum a few years back I visited it to check out what changes had occurred.

The sight greeting me amidst what Kevin McKenna refers to as “the Victorian grandeur of these halls” (“Sell Glasgow’s very own Dali? Not on your life!”, September 16) was a Second World War Spitfire hanging over the magnificent Roger the Elephant.

As far as I was aware, the Spitfire’s theatre of operations during that conflict was confined to the European continent and nowhere near African bush country. It was on that understanding that I failed to grasp the relationship between the two exhibits and thus their close proximity.

I mentioned as much to an old friend whose little railway cottage was somewhere I often visited when a cup of coffee and an open fire provided an antidote to the modern world.

My friend, now sadly deceased and the world is a poorer place for it, shook her head and advised, “Och Maureen, you’re too young to know. The call signs during the war? ‘Roger, over and out!’”

Maureen McGarry-O’Hanlon, Balloch.



I MUST thank R Russell Smith for his solicitous letter (“Perils of the ceilidh”, letters, September 14) in reply to mine of my rather precipitate meeting with the ceilidh band many years ago (“Meeting the boys in the band”, letters, September 14).

I was perhaps almost prepared for that ‘fling about’ as my all-girls school in the 1950s had taught sword-dancing as well as country and square. The swords, of course, had been made from wood.

I must add that the partners at Skye ceilidhs were perfect gentlemen and excellent dancers.

Thelma Edwards, Kelso.