It is extremely appropriate that the locomotive hauling the train carrying the Queen for the official celebrations to re-open 30 miles of the Waverley Line is the Class A4 No 60009, “Union of South Africa”.
This locomotive spent most of her life based at Edinburgh Haymarket and often ran along the Waverley route. She was built, though, for speed and when the LNER region of the newly created British Railways began a new Anglo-Scottish summer non-stop service in May 1949 from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh – “The Capitals Limited” – No 60009 was used frequently as it had corridor tenders to allow the driver and fireman to change over mid-way.
From the 1953 service, the express was re-named “The Elizabethan”. But “The Union” was often to be seen on the up service to London and back to Edinburgh the next day, over a number of consecutive days. It is recorded that on one occasion in 1954, following a freight derailment in Northumberland, No 60009 hauling the down “Elizabethan” had to divert to Carlisle and arrive in Edinburgh via the Waverley line.
So could there be a better link with the Queen and the Borders Line? Long may they both reign!
With the Queen setting a new record as the UK’s longest-serving monarch, the question will no doubt arise as to if, and when, she should stand down – not an unreasonable proposal, given her advancing age.
Head of state is an important role, one which calls for the best possible candidate – and in a democracy it is only right that it should be open to all to apply.
There are those who will assert that there is no need for any election – Prince Charles is already pencilled in as successor. Well, I am a democrat. Let Charles throw his crown into the ring as a candidate and put his credentials to the vote.
That way we could have a meaningful debate about the constitutional requirements of a head of state and whether the role is best filled on the basis of heredity or competence.