Hugh MacDiarmid’s “little white rose of Scotland that smells sweet and breaks the heart” refers to the burnet rose, a wild plant whose sweet-smelling flowers with a single row of creamy petals can be found in bloom around this time of year, often near our beaches.
The rose sported by the SNP MPs is a cultivated rose, probably a hybrid tea, and is unlikely to have much of a perfume, if any. It is not MacDiarmid’s little white rose.
Why, then, are the SNP MPs wearing the white rose of Yorkshire?
Jane Ann Liston
Next to the thistle, burnet rose, Rosa spinosissima, has been used as a Scottish emblem for the Jacobite cause and Charles Edward Stuart or “Bonnie Prince Charlie”. (It may also have been the source of the Jacobite white cockade.)
While the burnet rose is yet another symbol of Scotland, it was surprising to see the SNP MPs at the state opening of parliament wearing the oversized hybrid tea variety as button-holes more appropriate for a marriage than a divorce!