It tells the story of Britain’s longest-reigning monarch and was intended as a gift to every child in state-funded primary education.

But a commemorative book commissioned to mark the Queen’s platinum jubilee is at the centre of a political row amid Conservative claims that “petty” SNP ministers undermined its distribution north of the Border. 

The text – entitled Queen Elizabeth: A Platinum Jubilee Celebration and written for those with a reading age of 9 to 10 – was collaboratively created by educators and history experts from across the UK and Commonwealth.

Its protagonist is a young girl called Isabella who, thanks to her great-grandmother’s “treasure box” of souvenirs, learns all about the Queen’s 70 years on the throne. Her discoveries introduce readers to recent and historical events, as well as key individuals, trailblazing inventions and developments in art, design and culture.

UK ministers said previously that children would be invited to personalise their free copies by signing a “this book belongs to” section. The page reads: “During [the Queen’s] reign, the world has changed in so many ways… [This book] will help you understand the amazing life and times of our Queen and the magic of the unique, unshakable bond she shares with the people she serves.” The Government stressed that the text, for which it paid £12 million, would also help pupils understand how the UK's four nations came to be joined in a political union.

While officials used census returns for allocations in England and Northern Ireland, Scottish and Welsh schools were asked to opt in online following a request from ministers in Edinburgh and Cardiff. 

Now opposition politicians at Holyrood have gone on the attack after the Education Secretary confirmed Nicola Sturgeon's administration was not participating in national coordination and distribution efforts.

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In her written response to a question from Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser about what had been done to promote the project to schoolchildren, Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “The idea for this book was instigated by the UK Government. The Scottish Government is not involved with the opt-in process being carried out by the UK Government with education authorities.” Ms Somerville added that officials did not have figures for the number of schools choosing to receive copies.

Her answers have been heavily criticised by Sharon Dowey, another Conservative MSP, who claimed children had “missed out” on an educationally useful memento. Ms Dowey also suggested SNP ministers decided to limit the Scottish Government's participation because they did not want to support a book that might bolster the Union.  

“Her Majesty has been an incredible tower of strength for our country for the last seven decades and we saw how much people wanted to give their thanks to her during the platinum jubilee weekend,” she said.

“That is why it is so disappointing that many children across Scotland missed out on the chance to receive this historic keepsake celebrating her extraordinary reign. It appears this was the latest example of the SNP being petty for the sake of it when it came to rolling out something in Scotland.

“Many children would have been keen to learn more about Her Majesty, given the prominent coverage of the jubilee, yet SNP ministers' grievance sadly stopped that from happening.”

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However, republican campaigners have applauded signs that the administration in Edinburgh chose to keep its distance. Graham Smith, chief executive of Republic, an anti-monarchy pressure group, said: “Schools are supposed to teach without political bias. It’s all very well saying that children should learn about the Queen or the monarchy, but there’s a difference between being taught and being indoctrinated. 

“It is not the Scottish Government’s fault the UK government decided to spend millions of pounds on this sub-standard publication that had no educational merit. It is to the Scottish Government’s credit that they chose not to foist it upon teachers and children. 

“When children are going hungry and foodbanks are facing record demand, I would have thought that money could have been better spent.”

The Scottish Government stressed the UK Government was responsible for the text's content, development and distribution. A spokeswoman added: “All primary schools in Scotland were able to receive copies of the book for their pupils.”