In a new book, The Telegraph’s Scottish editor Alan Cochrane claims that the Palace staged an “accidental” intervention by Queen Elizabeth II in the the Scottish referendum campaign, just four days before the vote on Sept. 18.
Talking to a well-wisher after the Sunday morning service at Crathie Kirk near her Balmoral estate in Scotland on Sept. 14, the Queen was reported to have said that she hoped “people will think very carefully about the future”. The comments were overheard by nearby press and widely reported as a rare, if unintended, intervention by the monarch in the political sphere.
In his diary of the referendum campaign, The Telegraph’s Cochrane now claims that the whole event was staged by the Palace. He writes:
This was a completely deliberate and put-up job by the Palace.
My old pal Jim Lawson was the only reporter outside Crathie Kirk when the royal party came out, and, as usual, he and the photographers were corralled some way away from Her Majesty and the usual crowd of royalists who gather there every Sunday. But on this occasion, the police were told that the press — Jim and the snappers — could go over to where they could hear what was going on, and that’s how the story about the Queen’s remarks got out.
In the end, 55% of Scots voted against independence. Although the size of that margin suggests any intervention so close to polling day is unlikely to have made the difference, these new claims, if true, are likely to stoke anger among Scottish nationalists who have complained about the tactics of the pro-union campaign.
At the time, the leader of the independence campaign, Alex Salmond, dismissed coverage of the comments saying that “the Queen is absolutely impartial in this referendum”.
He added: “Nobody seriously, apart from some of the more frenetic unionist press, would seek to persuade or tell people otherwise.”
However, Cochrane has cast doubt on that assertion as he describes the Queen’s intervention as “a bit of a coup” claiming that she “knew exactly what the effect would be”.
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