So the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are being encouraged to spend more time in Scotland to fly the flag for the Union, and help dampen enthusiasm for independence. Good luck with that.
It will be a tough call in the realm of the hugely popular Nicola Sturgeon, unofficial Queen of Scots, following her party’s fourth consecutive victory at the polls on a platform of forging a nation of Bravehearts.
At least William and Kate have a head start in the Scottish stakes, having studied and fallen for each other at the University of St Andrews. They have a good idea what to expect from the elite academic milieu north of the border, but a few helpful pointers on how to blend in with a broader cross-section of Scottsh society might not go amiss.
For a start they should know that Scots are an inclusive bunch. Irrespective of their politics at heart they are socialists who like to get involved in community projects, and the exclusive lifestyles of royalty are foreign to them. The ‘man’s a man for a' that’ creed of Rabbie Burns runs deep.
So locking themselves away at Balmoral won’t work. As the private property of the Queen, the Scottish baronial pile is her highland retreat, and most Scots regard that as fair enough. But if her grandson and granddaughter-in-law wish to appear more as residents than occasional visitors they will have to open it up to the proles.
A few garden parties would be a good start, and not for local dignitaries and celebrities. Invite ordinary folk who need a bit of a hug, people with mental health issues and reformed drug addicts and the like, and respect for them will grow.
The castle grounds are enormous and there’s plenty of room for fancy yurts for regal glamping, and maybe a playpark where their own brood could amuse themselves with local kids. Nothing like sharing tales of the troubles of infancy for bringing together mums and dads.
Community gardens where everybody digs in to grow fruit and veg are popular in Scotland, and images of the royal couple mucking in with neighbours in muddy wellies would go down well.
Above all there are a few gaffes that should be studiously avoided, the first being ‘do not act like toffs’. There is an implacable urge in the Scots character to scorn anyone deemed to be getting above themselves and putting on airs and graces. It was memorably summed up by George Orwell when he recalled overhearing the “braying insincerity” of upper-class English twits visiting a TB patient in a Lanarkshire hospital.
Kilts are not fancy costumes to be worn as a kind of folk dress for posing as a faux Scot at highland games. They are for weddings and serious sporting occasions like supporting Scotland at football and rugby, notably by the Tartan Army in matches against the Auld Enemy.
Talking of which a golden opportunity to endear themselves to the ‘Flower of Scotland’ brigades is about to present itself at the UEFA European Football Championships in Glasgow. Turn up at a match at Hampden, with tartan motifs if you like, and cheer when Scotland score and you’ll win more friends and influence people than you could ever imagine. Back of the net, as they say in football parlance.
When the Rugby Six Nations tournament comes around, they could do worse than don Scottish scarves and accompany Princess Anne to Murrayfield. As a dedicated patron and avid supporter of the Scottish Rugby Union for 35 years, HRH has earned huge affection as an honorary Scot.
It seems Palace officials are also encouraging the couple to return to the seat of their alma mater. The popular seaside town of St Andrews is familiar territory and offers more opportunities of mixing with the hoi polloi than Balmoral Castle.
Kate and Will already have a good track record of getting involved in sporting and community events, with the future king watching the recent Scottish Cup Final between Hibs and St Johnstone in an Edinburgh bar, and the pair of them helping to prepare curries for a Sikh women’s support group in the city.
They are generally well regarded in the Northlands, and trying to drum up support for the Union is unlikely to cause much offence. But they must never, under any circumstances, criticise or denigrate aspirations for nationhood.
The last English royal who crossed the border to campaign against Scots independence, Edward II, came a cropper at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, and in the immortal words of the unofficial Scottish anthem was “sent homewards to think again…”