SNP legend Winnie Ewing has broken a 30-year silence to reveal how she was called in the middle of the night by Prince Andrew and told her son had been seriously hurt in a mysterious incident.
Ewing reveals in her new memoirs that Terry Ewing and Prince Andrew were pupils together at Gordonstoun school and that, on the night in question - October 11, 1974 - the Royal had been left in charge of 60 boys.
Ewing says the Prince called to say her son was badly hurt and in hospital. The boy had suffered neck injuries but Ewing says that to this day she does not know what happened to her son or what role the Prince played in events.
Ewing claims the incident was deliberately hushed up by Buckingham Palace to avoid a scandal.
One clue may be that the incident happened on night of Ewing’s general election defeat at the hands of the Tories in the Moray and Nairn constituency, and there were several fights between rival party supporters in local bars. Another possibility is that the incident related to the old boys versus Gordonstoun cricket match that day.
Ewing’s long-awaited book, Stop the World, charts her rise to fame in 1967 when she famously won the Hamilton South by-election, and follows her unique political career which took in Westminster, Brussels and Holyrood.
Ewing recalls that on the evening of the day she learned she had been voted out of Westminster, local police warned that there might be trouble near her Lossiemouth home as a result of the poll. The 2Tories won by just 420 votes, largely as a result of the support from RAF personnel at the base.
She writes in the book that "many poured into the Lossie bars, almost gloating... there were quite a few fights that night".
The book then details how the phone rang at the Ewing house. "A voice said: ‘This is Andrew.’ I said: ‘Andrew who?’ and he replied: ‘Prince Andrew. I am sorry to tell you that your son Terry has been in an accident and has been taken to Dr Gray’s hospital in Elgin with a neck injury.’"
Ewing and her husband rushed to hospital where doctors told them that their son had injured two of his neck vertebrae.
"Terry was taken to the school infirmary and when we arrived at the school we were met by the headmaster, the housemaster and a rather nervous-looking Prince Andrew. We went in to see Terry who refused to explain precisely what had happened. His reluctance did not change in the weeks, months and years afterwards.
"Prince Andrew was the head of Terry’s house, but unusually the housemaster and deputy housemaster had been out, so Andrew was actually in charge of 60 teenage boys when the incident - whatever it was - happened. It was the day of the annual Old Boys versus the Gordonstoun First XI cricket match, where custom dictated that the Old Boys supplied generous amounts of spirits for the post-match celebrations."
Ewing adds that she suspects that Buckingham palace "were almost as relieved as I was" that her son’s injuries were not as bad as first seemed.
"I suspect that Andrew and the others (for the Palace had been quickly informed) were fearful of headlines like ‘Winnie’s Son Breaks Neck - Prince Andrew In Charge’," Ewing writes in her book.
In the book, Ewing also details how she was stalked by a Labour MP when she first entered parliament following her 1967 Hamilton by-election triumph. She has refused to name the man, who is still alive, but reveals in the book, how she was forced to issue a complaint to the then Leader of the House, Fred Peart. "If I changed seats, he did so also. Then I noticed that he had started to follow me along corridors, appearing behind me without saying anything," she writes.
She recounts one episode late at night, when she was confronted by the man in a corridor in the parliament building - before escaping through a cloakroom. After that,
the Leader of the House took prompt action and I got a written apology - and, equally importantly, the stalking stopped," she declares.