Queen Elizabeth II was forced to break royal tradition ahead of the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence, royal correspondents have said.
The long-held tradition that the monarch should not speak about their position on matters of state was seemingly broken by the Queen when she made a cryptic comment to a crowd just days before they were to vote on whether Scotland should leave or stay in the United Kingdom.
Speaking about the Queen’s views on the matter, royal correspondent Simon Vigar claims Her Majesty would have been “desperately sad” to see the United Kingdom split up.
The Queen spends every summer at Balmoral Castle, and the royal family has strong ties to Scotland.
When “yes” was polling ahead of “no” for the vote on whether Scotland should gain independence from the rest of the United Kingdom, aides of then-Prime Minister David Cameron apparently had talks with the Queen’s private secretary to discuss whether the monarch could intervene without breaking protocol.
They considered if there was a way the Queen could say something which was not political, therefore staying within the boundaries of royal traditions while suggesting what her personal feelings might be.
Royal correspondent Emily Andrews said the Queen made a comment to a crowd which perhaps gave an insight into her own views, as she “hope[d] the people think very carefully.”
The Queen’s personal views are not supposed to be made known, according to royal expert Samantha Bond, and she must remain neutral and non-partisan when it comes to political matters and issues regarding the state.
Bond stated: “Despite any feelings she might have, the Queen must hold an impartial position. Her personal views are not supposed to feature. But the threat of the breakup of the United Kingdom called for desperate measures, as David Cameron later admitted. David Cameron later insisted that he hadn’t asked her to do anything unconstitutional. On Sunday, September 14, with four days remaining before the vote, the Queen stopped to speak to the crowd. As the Queen exchanged a few words with the crowd, she made an unusual comment before leaving.”
Her Majesty is under obligation to follow the Government’s instructions, however, David Cameron said he had not requested that the Queen did anything unconstitutional.
Royal expert Susie Boniface added: “David Cameron was very keen the Queen should intervene in some way. Didn’t want to do anything she was uncomfortable doing, but she could, he said, raise an eyebrow so much as a quarter of an inch; it might make a huge difference. Her job is to remain politically impartial and to do what her Government instructs her to do. That is impossible; it’s a Catch-22. On the one hand, she has to do what he tells her; on the other hand, he’s telling her to do something that is unconstitutional and is putting her in an invidious position.”
Scotland ultimately voted to remain in the United Kingdom in the referendum of September 2014.
Many royal fans saw Queen Elizabeth’s actions as hypocritical because she was quick to punish Prince Harry and Meghan Markle for meddling in politics when she had done the same in the past.