As we discussed last week, on the last day of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Scottish tour, William and Kate apparently had a private meeting with former prime minister Gordon Brown. Brown is a Scotsman, and he’s also heading up some campaign to keep Scotland as part of the UK, an anti-independence movement, if you will. The Cambridges tried to briefly cover up the meeting with Brown and they attempted to order a media outlet from airing the footage of Brown arriving at Holyroodhouse. The Scottish independence issue is pretty politically sensitive and one would think that the palaces would take pains to ensure that the “future future king” would not be caught looking like a purely political animal. A Scottish MP, John Nicolson, told the Times that it’s a “big mistake for young royals to get involved” in the independence debate. And even media outlets like the Daily Mail have noted that the Keen Scotland Tour didn’t really go down well inside Scotland.
Prince William and Kate Middleton concluded their week-long tour of Scotland on Thursday – dubbed a royal charm offensive to help persuade the country to resist the demands of nationalists for independence. But while the royal couple have been well received by members of the public throughout their tour, their engagements largely failed to generate anywhere near the publicity they receive in England – though Kate’s touching visit to a five-year-old cancer patient did secure them some positive coverage to cap off the trip.
Certainly in the political sphere, the royals’ attempt to curry favour appears to have had little impact. There was radio silence on social media from SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, despite the fact she met with Prince William at the start of the week – a discussion the Duke said he ‘enjoyed’ in his final speech. The majority of Scottish MPs failed to even acknowledge the royal couple’s visit on their individual platforms, though a few expressed mild contempt for the way the royals’ trip to Orkney was reported in the press.
SNP MP for Ochil and South Perthshire, John Nicolson, also shared the tweet quoting the phrase ‘remote archipelago’, while SNP MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar, Angus MacNeil, retweeted a tweet criticising broadcaster STV for using the phrase in its coverage. He also retweeted an opinion piece published in The National which accused the royals of using Scotland as ‘its own personal Tartan Disneyland’.
The column in The National by Kevin McKenna was particularly scathing, branding the royals a ‘dysfunctional’ family who use Scotland as a ‘year-round, all-inclusive, holiday playground’ with their ‘every whim catered for by grown men and women jouking about in tartan like large liquorice allsorts’.
‘Basically, the British royal family gets to use Scotland as its own personal Tartan Disneyland. It always has done,’ it read. ‘While Scotland remains in the Union, its large extended family is given the most picturesque half of the country to shoot animals, ride horses, walk their dogs and fish in some of the world’s grandest waterways. And all without having to encounter too many actual Scots and their unpredictable ways and rough manners.’
To be fair… William and Kate’s tours never generate that much press anyway. Sure, outlets like the Daily Mail report on their comings and goings during tours, and blogs like this one are focused on the fashion and styling aspects of tours, but the keen tours are rarely impactful beyond that. If anything, for William and Kate specifically in recent years, the tours have become bad-headline generators. The Covid Choo Choo tour last winter was notable for their masklessness and the fact that public health officials were upset with their travels. Their Irish tour last year was notable for William making “jokes” about the impending pandemic. And now they’ve stepped into a sensitive political situation like a bull in a china shop. Oh well. Also: “Tartan Disneyland” is hilarious. Because that IS how the Keens’ treat Scotland.
Photos courtesy of Avalon Red.