Leading politicians are snubbing King Charles’ Scottish coronation on Wednesday (July 5) which former first minister Alex Salmond has branded an “unfathomable” waste of public money.
Leaders of the Scottish Green party – partners in government with the SNP at Holyrood – are not only staying away from the crowning of the king and queen but have stepped up their campaign to “abolish the monarchy” on top of it.
King Charles’ Scottish coronation – a ceremony that has no constitutional requirement and only some precedent – comes just two months after the lavish ceremonies in London that closed parts of the capital, cost taxpayers a reported £100 million and saw the arrests of people before they even protested.
Two months later and Charles and family (minus prince Harry) are in Edinburgh to receive the Honours of Scotland – aka the Scottish crown jewels. The royals will parade through the city and be acclaimed with a guns salute and Red Arrows fly past, weather permitting.
Leader of the pro-independence Alba party, Salmond – described as being “until recently an ardent Royalist” by the Telegraph – rejected his invitation to what he called a “second rate” service at Edinburgh’s St Giles’ Cathedral for King Charles’ Scottish coronation.
“This ceremony is entirely wrong headed,” said Salmond. “It will end up satisfying no-one and it has sketchy historical legitimacy.
“This really is not the time to be wasting money on public displays of fealty to a King. It is the time for a renewed debate on why Scotland needs to take its own future into its own hands.”
Salmond said the coronation should have been held at Scone in Perthshire, the historic site of Scotland’s coronations. He is also irked by the new £22,000 sword – paid for by Scottish taxpayers – which will be used at King Charles’ Scottish coronation.
“The genuine Sword of Scotland has survived more than five centuries and should have been restored and then called into service,” he added. “Why would you pay for a substitute when you have access to the real deal? Scottish families struggling with their household bills will find this an unfathomable and needless expense.
“It is not as if Charles is short of swords.”
The Scottish Greens are even more opposed than Salmond to King Charles’ Scottish coronation. The party, which holds ministerial posts in the SNP led government, have launched a campaign to “abolish the monarchy” calling it “an outdated and fundamentally undemocratic institution.”
The Greens explained: “We are in a cost of living crisis, with households and families all over our country struggling with extortionate bills and soaring costs. At the same time, the UK government is about to spend millions of pounds on an elaborate celebration for an institution we have never voted for and that many feel increasingly alienated from.”
SNP first minister Hamza Yousaf said he is looking forward “to representing the people of Scotland” at the coronation, pointing out highlights including “a people’s procession, a royal procession, a national service of thanksgiving and dedication, and a gun salute in Edinburgh.”
Alex Salmond was leader of the SNP during his seven years as Scotland’s first minister from 2007 to 2014. He secured a referendum on Scottish independence – proposing to keep the royal family as head of state – but lost 45%-55%. He stood down the very next day and was succeeded by his deputy Nicola Sturgeon, the longest serving (and only female) of the six first ministers to have held the office (excluding the three-time caretaker FM Jim Wallace) .
Salmond formed the Alba party in 2021 to fight for independence, after resigning from the SNP in 2018 to contest sexual harassment complaints made against him. Salmond won a judicial review against the Scottish government whose handling of complaints against him by two civil servants was found to have been unlawful. Then, in 2020 he was cleared by a court of sexual assault allegations against nine women, paving the way for his return to frontline politics.