Peter McKay’s diary: Is Kate and William’s Scottish trip a pro-union initiative?

Plus: Inside The Donald’s private jet, and crime and space-flight in the Highlands

24 May 2014

9:00 AM

24 May 2014

9:00 AM

Having dampened local republican ardour during their recent tour of New Zealand and Australia, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit thinking-about-breaking-away Scotland next week. They’ll tour Glenturret Distillery near Crieff, Perthshire, next Thursday, to ‘bottle their own Glenturret whisky’, if you please. Sounds like a pro-union royal initiative, but what will First Minister Alex Salmond have to say? He claims he’d like the Queen to continue as Scotland’s head of state, although some of his supporters disagree. When HM said in her letter to the Church of Scotland’s General Assembly last week that she prays everyone ‘will work together for the social good of Scotland’, whatever the outcome of the referendum, Salmond’s response was unctuous, praising her ‘typically gracious and considered remarks’. The oily devil. By the way, the Middleton Ancient tartan — predominantly orange and green — is very nice. Will Kate give it an outing?

I was honoured to be invited to an unusual event on Saturday: a dinner dance in the Glenlivet distillery, billed as ‘An Evening For George’. A magnificent feast, preceded by refreshments from a ‘whisky fountain’, this memorial event was to honour the late Speyside whisky expert George Hook, whose informal symposiums I was privileged to attend occasionally in the Ghillies Bar of the Gordon Arms Hotel, Fochabers, Moray. A man of giant stature and forceful opinions, George was memorialised fittingly by around 100 friends who missed him in the presence of his widow, Alison. Young lawyer Louise Duncan sang the evening to a close around midnight with her sweet-sad rendition of Scotland’s moving unofficial anthem, ‘Caledonia’. Having lived most of my life in England, I again regretted the lack of a decent national dance, or song, south of the border. Is it Scotland’s innocent chauvinism (in its original sense) that fuels dreams of separation?

Stopped by the Craigellachie Hotel, in whisky country, to see what its new owner had made of the imposing, old Speyside edifice. He is Piers Adam, better known for running London drinking joints attended by the likes of Prince Harry. According to Tatler, he is ‘the nightlife supremo who started with the K Bar, owns young-royal-set-hangouts Mahiki and Whisky Mist, as well as co-owning the Punch Bowl with Guy Ritchie (he was one of Guy’s best men at his wedding to Madonna)’. No doubt Harry will be choppered over from nearby Balmoral when he gets a thirst on.

Aberdeen’s Press & Journal, aka the P&J, reports that a private Boeing 757 containing Donald Trump, ‘touched down’ at Dyce Airport. (Planes always ‘touch down’ — even when they land like a skipful of dustbins dropped from 100 feet onto a corrugated-iron roof.) The man whose combover hairdo deserves world heritage protection is trying to charm dour Aberdonian city fathers into protecting the views on his golf course at Menie Estate from a proposed offshore wind development in Aberdeen Bay. Hugely impressed by his 757, the P&J enthuses: ‘As for on-board refreshments, guests can sip Trump Ice Water complete with a picture of their host on the bottle.’ Lovely, but shouldn’t The Donald have offered them something stronger?

The RAF and their Nimrod jets have left Kinloss, which is now occupied by the Army, leaving the vast air base to the tiny (three small planes) Moray Flying Club. As a trainee pilot, I visited in the hope of fixing up an occasional lesson when I am in the area. On the club wall was a yellowing clipping from the Northern Scot saying Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic spaceship might be launched from there. The company’s Will Whitehorn gave a talk there praising Moray as ‘a leading flying centre’ and saying Kinloss and Lossiemouth were under consideration as launch pads. But hope is fading in Moray. Perhaps like the ‘cargo cults’ who built replicas of planes in the jungle to attract the flying ships which had dropped food and medicines, Moray Flying Club could fabricate at Kinloss a mock-up of old beardie’s amazing space machine to bring a fading dream back to life.

My niece’s fridge displayed a clipping illustrating the close attention paid to crime in the Highland papers. Four men and a woman were involved in a ‘serious altercation’ at 1.30 a.m. in Nairn, said the Northern Constabulary. One man was in a horse costume, wearing a straw hat; another in a cow suit, sporting a brown hat. A conventionally dressed man had to be taken to Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, but his injuries were ‘not life threatening’. A ‘laughing at, not laughing with’ fracas?

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Peter McKay is a columnist for the Daily Mail, and a former editor of Punch.

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Show comments
  • asalord

    I feel most sorry for the primary school bairns who will be marched out of school, have a union flag thrust into their innocent wee hands, and then be ordered to wave and cheer when Kate and Billy go by.

    • Barakzai

      Presumably your squint eyed approach means you’ll welcome similar waving of saltires by innocent wee bairns for the Commonwealth Games as ‘spontaneous’ celebration?

      • asalord

        Well, after the obnoxious sight during the olympics of British nationalists waving the Butcher’s Apron in our faces…

        • LucieCabrol

          The only butchering that will be going on will be the Scottish currency when it floats….still, nice cheap holidays up north.

  • monty61

    I’m firmly pro-Union (though not necessarily pro-Royal). This article misunderstands the nature of the Scottish relationship with royalty, which is largely unconnected with Westminster politics. Should the calamity of separation occur the Royal situation will remain unaffected, though it might well encourage Republican elements at least on the Scottish side of the fence.

    While the benefits of union may well be broadly understood in Scotland (except of course by those who choose to ignore or deny them) the Union flag itself is not hugely loved north of the Border and whoever thought this Kate’N’Will stunt up should think twice before making it a Union Jack fest – could well backfire.

    Just a thought though, will Salmond be asking Scottish taxpayers to fund Holyrood Palace and Balmoral from a Scottish Civil List? And what other hangers-on will be dipping into this free money?

    • asalord

      After Scotland regains its independence, and after the present monarch dies [not for a long time yet, I hope] Scotland should hold another referendum on whether to be a republican state or not. Personally I want to see an independent republic of Scotland.

    • ChuckieStane

      Monty, I agree with you that the article misunderstands the nature of the Scottish relationship with royalty. The Queen (or her advisors) certainly have a better appreciation. In the letter to the General Assembly, it was noticable that she made no metion of the UK or Britain, but rather called for Scotland to be united after the vote.

      • JPJ2

        She has learnt a lot since her unfortunate comments apparently indicating her opposition to devolution in 1979.
        The Queen has the wit to attempt to hold onto Scotland for the Royals even if the dead hand of Westminster is prised from Scotland’s throat by the electorate 🙂

  • JPJ2

    Their wedding just before the SNP 2011 landslide didn’t seem to stop the surging Scottish Nationalists did it?

    • terregles2

      Probably added to it as many people felt rather uncomfortable with the Britnat flag waving fervour.

  • Tamas Marcuis

    Is anybody really interested? I mean other than strange middle aged women.

    • LucieCabrol

      Who the hell are you?

      • justejudexultionis

        Somebody quite sane, I would have thought.

  • Cooper1992

    Despite the whinging from republicans and socialists who claim that Scotland ‘don’t like the Royals’, it is the Royal Family who have a better chance of keeping the Union together than idiots like Gordon Brown, David Cameron, and Alastair Darling do.

    • eric45

      The attitude to the Royal family is at best mixed. Some people such as my father are contemptuous others link them with protestantism ( some like some hate) or British hegemony . I don’t think there’s much to be gained electorally.

    • justejudexultionis

      Why the hell would you want to keep this ‘union’ alive? It’s already on life support and in a permanent vegetative state. Best to take it off life support now.

  • justejudexultionis

    The royal propaganda machine rolls on. This disgusting repository of unearned privilege and feudal deference must be dismantled for the sake of our democracy. We want democracy, not monarchy.

    republic dot org dot uk for an elected head of state in the UK

  • john

    Kate and William are the best advertisement for Scotland leaving the Union and dumping the royals. They represent a London-based elite that has no connection with the average punter anywhere in the UK. Scotland doesn’t need a ludicously over praised royal family to sponge off them and behave like its still the 19th century. What have these two done to deserve their priviliged status?