by Llinos Thomas
Here in the UK, the furore since the Scottish Referendum on independence has died down, with Scotland deciding to remain a part of the UK and shackled to England politically. But since then, I have wondered, what would the Stuart royal family have made of the referendum? William Wallace and Robert the Bruce were invoked during the election campaign and its aftermath, but what of the Stuarts?
Mary Queen of Scots spent her adult life battling to be named the heir to the English throne, after a life as queen of France had evaporated with the death of her husband. She returned home to Scotland; but she was unwilling to accept Scotland as a consolation prize. She wanted England; and she had to die because of this fervent desire to rule England, having been found guilty of plotting against Elizabeth I.
Mary’s son James became the heir to England, and when Elizabeth died he came to England to take up his crown. He was the first monarch to rule as both King of Scotland and King of England. He famously believed in the divine right of kings to rule as absolute powers in their own kingdoms. When he arrived in London he was mobbed by people crowding to see him; Scotland must have seemed very far away. James had won the throne peacefully, the same throne that his mother had died for.
His son Charles I acceded in 1625. He may have been born in Scotland, but from now on the Stuarts would be an English family. Charles was three years old when he moved to England. Like his father, he believed in the divine right of kings and the glory of the English throne.
To return to my question, what would the Stuarts have made of the recent referendum, I think they would have been horrified that it was taking place. James and Charles would have railed against the democratic process, claiming that their bloodline meant that England and Scotland were bound forever. Mary would have been utterly shocked that Scotland could contemplate tearing itself away from the greater power and prestige of England, when she gave her life as punishment for pursuing her claim to being England’s queen.
How do you think they would have reacted?