Cat Boyd needn’t fret. It is highly unlikely that the monarchy can survive Scotland becoming independent. A written constitution which asserts the sovereignty of the people rather than the sovereignty of the Crown in Parliament will be anathema to the institution that is the monarchy. It is unlikely that Scotland will have to vote to become a republic. It is all but certain that the decision would be taken out of our hands. We will be saved a potentially divisive debate on the matter by the monarchy’s refusal to accept a role diminished to total insignificance.
The interesting question is whether, and to what extent, the rest of the UK might follow suit. There was a time, only a matter of a few moths ago, when I would have ventured to suggest that the restoration of Scotland’s independence might open the floodgates for constitutional, electoral and political reform in England. The events of 2016 have prompted me to revise that view quite drastically.
The mood music now suggests reactionary defensiveness rather than reforming zeal. Instead of encouraging progressive forces to emulate the tide of democratic dissent risen in Scotland, I now envisage our independence provoking an even more pronounced retreat into fearful, hateful, insular British nationalism.
I would like to be wrong. But my suspicion is that, even as Scotland casts off the archaic institutions of the British state, England will draw the monarchy, and all that it entails, more tightly around itself – like some kind of cultural comfort blanket.
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