Granted that, due to the universal mortality of human beings, Queen Elizabeth, sadly, was bound to die, she could not have done so in a more fitting place than in Scotland. The accident of her demise occurring at Balmoral has enabled Scots to rediscover their identity to a degree that has surprised many of them. This is a hugely significant development, with very constructive implications.
For the Scots, largely without being consciously aware of it, have been experiencing an identity crisis over recent decades. During the War, in which the young Princess Elizabeth was just old enough to serve in The Auxiliary Territorial Service (ATS), the Scots’ contribution was disproportionate, as had been their participation – military, administrative, educational and entrepreneurial – in the expansion of British power and influence from the late 18th century onwards, so that Scotland was an equal and willing partner in the great enterprise that, from 1801, became the United Kingdom.
It was not always thus: Scotland’s relationship with England had been one of unrelenting hostility, from the death of Alexander III without a male heir in 1286 until the inheritance of the English crown by James VI in 1603. That latter date is far more important than the Act of Union in 1707. People talk loosely about “the Union”, but there were two: the Union of the Crowns in 1603 and the Union of the Parliaments in 1707. Today, it is generally the parliamentary union that commentators cite, so that the all-important Union of the Crowns is almost overlooked as a constitutional event of the highest magnitude.