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Is Scotland's Jubilee flagging?

Category: Scotland

Published: 3rd Jun 2012 15:49:10

Scotland may not be famed for a love affair with the monarchy but there are patches of the country where loyalty to royalty runs deep.

There is Royal Deeside of course, home to Balmoral, one of the few places in Britain where people do not stop and stare when they see a member of the royal family.

There are the parts of Glasgow, Ayrshire and Lanarkshire where red, white and blue are dyed into the fabric of life and portraits of the Queen hang proudly behind the bars.

And there is sunny St Andrews on the Fife coast, cradle of romance for the young students William and Kate.

But swathes of Scotland show no visible enthusiasm for the Windsors, even this weekend.

There was no sign of bunting in the middle of Glasgow this morning although thousands of Orangemen later took to the streets, marching to show their loyalty to Elizabeth.

In Edinburgh's leafy and affluent suburbs though, more than 30 parties were taking place over the bank holiday weekend to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee.

The Colonies in Stockbridge, a community of terraced cottages built for workers and their families in the 1860s and these days occupied by the middle classes, was decked out with red, white and blue.

The stiff breeze had the bunting buzzing overhead but the sun was shining on the crowns and cakes.

Alex Walker, 82, who has lived here all his life, remembers watching the coronation in 1953 on a neighbour's black and white television.

The BBC's James Cook reports from a street party in Edinburgh

"It was a huge occasion but this one is in multicolour," he said.

Mr Walker reckons the Queen is personally loved by the Scottish people not least because of the amount of time she spends north of the border.

"I think there is much more admiration now for the monarch. In the old days they didn't get out and amongst," he said.

The organiser of the street party, a New Zealander, Jane Smith, said it was "a wonderful community opportunity and a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee."

Others were not so sure.

One local resident, Abigail Burnyeat, was enjoying herself but she would not proclaim the event as a ringing endorsement of the monarchy.

"It's a celebration of community," she said, adding: "I wouldn't examine it too closely."

Gilbert Markus, a historical researcher at Glasgow University, agreed that too much can be read into the bunting and the apparent Britishness.

"I think the monarchy is seen as being more English than Scottish," he said, although he could see the logic of an independent Scotland retaining the monarchy, as the Scottish National Party plans.

"An apolitical head of state can represent something about communities that politicians can't," said Mr Markus.

And while Scotland has a reputation as the part of the UK most likely to flirt with republicanism, in recent months royalist sentiment has appeared to be on the rise.

A YouGov poll last week suggested that almost three quarters of people in Scotland supported the monarchy, about the UK average.

Prince Charles, or the Duke of Rothesay to give him his Scottish title, was actually more popular north of the border than elsewhere. In Scotland 45% said he would make a good king, compared to the UK average of 37%.

Perhaps that weather forecast endeared him to the nation. Or perhaps it was the kilt. It seems unlikely to have been his schooling at Gordonstoun in Morayshire which, famously, he did not enjoy.

But while Scots are more likely to favour the succession of Prince Charles rather than skipping a generation to Prince William, they are also much more likely to say there should be no monarch at all after the present Queen.

One in five Scots told the pollsters they thought no-one should succeed Elizabeth, as opposed to one in ten throughout the UK.

As for the Diamond Jubilee itself, there was slightly less enthusiasm in the northern parts of the Queen's realm: throughout the UK one in five people questioned by YouGov for The Sunday Times said they would be attending a street party; in Scotland that fell to one in six.

That appears to have been borne out in reports from around Scotland.

The numbers have not been collated by any official body but it seems likely that the number of street closures for parties was somewhere between 100 and 200 in Scotland - dramatically fewer than the reported 10,000 in England.

When Ms Burnyeat explained this to her four-year-old son Alasdair, he considered it for a moment before pronouncing:

"I think we should have a party to celebrate the lives of the dinosaurs."

See all the latest Diamond Jubilee news and features at bbc.co.uk/diamondjubilee

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BBC News, 2012. Is Scotland's Jubilee flagging? [Online] (Updated 3rd Jun 2012)
Available at: http://www.ukwirednews.com/news/1432574/Is-Scotlands-Jubilee-flagging [Accessed 18th Apr 2014]

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