Belfast Telegraph

Queen will not be dragged into Scottish independence debate, Palace warns No camp

By Oliver Wright

Buckingham Palace has strongly rejected demands from MPs for the Queen to intervene in the Scottish independence debate, saying such a move would undermine the principle of "constitutional impartiality".

In a statement, the Palace said it was a "duty of those in political office" to ensure that such principles were maintained and added it would be "categorically wrong" for the Queen to intervene.

The statement was issued in response to a growing clamour from pro-Union campaigners for the Queen to intervene on behalf of the No vote.

Over the weekend, it was reported that the Queen, who is thought to strongly favour the Union, had held talks with David Cameron to discuss the issue. Yesterday, the former Conservative minister Henry Bellingham was reported as suggesting that any intervention by Buckingham Palace would be helpful.

"We are talking about the possible dismemberment of the United Kingdom," he said.

"It is legitimate for people to take notice of her views." But the statement, released in response to press speculation that privately the Queen had a "great deal of concern" about the prospect of Scotland breaking away, scotched any prospect of an intervention.

"The sovereign's constitutional impartiality is an established principle of our democracy and one which the Queen has demonstrated throughout her reign.

"As such Her Majesty is above politics and those in political office have a duty to ensure that this remains the case. Any suggestion that the Queen would wish to interfere in the outcome of the current referendum is categorically wrong. Her Majesty is firmly of the view that this is a matter for the people of Scotland."

Some MPs have suggested there would have been a precedent for an intervention – looking back to 1977 when Scotland and Wales were voting on devolved assemblies.

At the time, the Queen used one of her Silver Jubilee speeches to deliver a clear warning against breaking up the realm, saying she understood the "aspirations" of devolved power but: "I cannot forget that I was crowned Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and of Northern Ireland. Perhaps this Jubilee is a time to remind ourselves of the benefits which union has conferred, at home and in our international dealings, on the inhabitants of all parts of the United Kingdom."

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