Scots republican praises the Queen



SCOTLAND’S most outspoken republican has leaped to the defence of the Queen and claims that the 49 MSPs who snubbed her visit to Holyrood’s 10th anniversary celebrations had shamed themselves.

Ian Hamilton QC, 82, one of the four students who famously stole the Stone of Destiny from Westminster Abbey in 1950, also praised Her Majesty – saying she behaved “impeccably” during the Royal visit despite the empty seats before her.

The outspoken and self-confessed nationalist also believes the Queen’s attendance at Holyrood will only reinforce the nationalist’s cause for independence.

Writing on his blog, Mr Hamilton said: “I have more cause than most to dislike the House of Windsor but when things change, I change.

“Instead of the resolutely hostile Queen of England she once was we may have a friend in Elizabeth, Queen of Scots.

“She behaved impeccably on her recent visit and forty-nine of our MSPs shamed themselves and us by staying away.

“They were from all parties not just the professed republicans of the SNP.

“Most of those absent behaved with impolite carelessness to an invited guest.

“The republicans acted from their own private agenda. Her Majesty’s political value is overlooked by the republicans in the SNP.

“Royalty is at worst an emollient and to many it is a stimulant – something that could make independence feel safer.”

Queen’s speech

During the ceremony Her Majesty met with the four main political leaders of the country before giving a speech to the members of the parliament.

In her address, the Queen recalled the sense of anticipation as she attended the parliament’s opening 10 years ago.

She said: “I have followed your progress with great interest, at the Mound, in Aberdeen and here at Holyrood.

“During each visit I have been struck by the spirit of engagement and innovation shown by the members as you seek to fulfil your commitment to serve the people of Scotland.

“The projects and activities which the presiding officer has spoken of are clear examples of your continuing commitment to your founding principles; principles that have served you well over the last decade and which I hope will continue to guide you in future.”

She then went on to meet with 143 10-year-old children who were born on the same day of the parliament’s inception in 1999.

Mr Hamilton argued that Prime Minister Gordon Brown would have been unhappy that the visit took place at all.

He said: “Also she (the Queen) has present day political value. I wonder if she wrote her own speech.

“The hint that devolution must be strengthened with more powers, not ruling out independence, couldn’t have been clearer. It is contrary to the way unionist policy is forming.

“Gordon Brown can’t have liked it. Indeed he can’t have liked the whole business of her visit. For a morning it looked as if we really had a parliament of our own.

“Certainly we are a nation once again and the Queen’s repeated visits symbolise that.

“All the MSPs should have been there to be present among them. They are Scotland’s future.

“What could better symbolise our native democracy than a Queen who walks home after visiting parliament?

“Had I been invited I don’t know if I could have stomached being there. But I would have thought it my duty and I would have gone.

“Those absent shamed us all.

“Sometimes I surprise myself. For only the second time in my life I write these words – God Save the Queen.”

Stone of Destiny ‘brought home’

Hamilton sprang to fame when, on Christmas Day 1950, he and three fellow Scottish students travelled to London broke into Westminster Abbey and removed the much-celebrated Stone of Destiny and brought it back to Scotland.

The Stone was found draped in a Saltire in Arbroath Abbey three months after going missing from its adopted London home.

Rumours continue to this day that the four Scots friends swapped the real Stone for a fake before returning it to the authorities.

The official tone sits proudly under heavy security in Edinburgh Castle.

A movie based on Mr Hamilton’s recently released book, Stone of Destiny, starring Robert Carlyle and Billy Boyd premiered at Edinburgh’s International Film Festival last year to great acclaim.