Scottish independence: Claim that Prince Andrew told newspaper editor Queen would 'intervene' in vote
Fresh concerns have been raised about the Queen's involvement in political affairs, following new suggestions that she was part of an orchestrated campaign to discourage Scots from voting for independence in 2014.
According to a report in the Sunday Times, Lionel Barber, the former editor of the Financial Times, has alleged the Duke of York told him over a lunch held a week before the Scottish referendum, that the Queen was preparing to intervene on the issue.
Barber says they met at Buckingham Palace, along with Chinese vice premier Ma Kai, on September 11, four days after an opinion poll put the “Yes” campaign ahead for the first time.
Former prime minister David Cameron told last year how the poll added to a “mounting sense of panic” and that he sought help from royal officials to discuss how the Queen could comment, while remaining within the constitutional boundaries of neutrality.
On Sunday, September 14, in a remark that was widely reported, the Queen told a member of the public outside Crathie Kirk – the church near her Balmoral estate – that she hoped Scots would “think very carefully about the future”.
At the time Buckingham Palace said any suggestion the Queen was seeking to influence the outcome of the referendum was “categorically wrong”, however in his newly published diaries, Barber says Prince Andrew gave him “a nod and a wink” about the Queen preparing to step into the debate.
He said: “There is this scene where I am at Buckingham Palace, invited by the roguish Duke of York to lunch with the Chinese foreign minister, and Andrew suddenly half lets loose that the Queen is going to intervene on the Sunday.”
Calling the comments “pretty bloody amazing”, Barber added: “That was interesting. They had clearly planned it. It was very artfully done … Andrew knew about it.”
Scottish National Party MP Tommy Sheppard said the revelation was “shocking and extremely concerning”. He added: “If true, it means that political pressure was applied to the Queen to press her into areas where the monarch should not go. I would hope that the palace would be able to give reassurance that the Queen will remain steadfastly neutral in the next referendum.”
Buckingham Palace said: “We never comment on people's recollections of what were private conversations.”
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