Readers' letters: Monarchy offers a bulwark against rapacious capitalism

The crucial role played by a hereditary monarchy in an age of turbo-charged capitalism and an increasingly challenged and stressed democracy has been highlighted as we reflect on the death of Queen Elizabeth II and the accession of King Charles III.

The monarchy provides a link between feudalism and the economic and social order that preceded the emergence of capitalism. Feudalism privileged stability, continuity and hierarchy leavened by adaptability. There was a place for everyone, and everyone had a place. The late Queen adapted and overcame challenges to reaffirm and personify these feudal fundamentals following a period of instability and uncertainty in the monarchy.

Capitalism, in contrast to feudalism, privileges change, growth, disruption and mobility. Everything is up for grabs, and there is a cycle of creation and destruction and creation again. There are winners and losers, the rich, the middle and the poor.

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The losers include the homeless, the refugees, the lonely, the oppressed and too many more. Nature and planetary survival have now joined the ranks of the losers, and the threatened as the carbon-charged capitalism of the 20th century became the turbo-charged capitalism of the 21st century.

The hearse carrying the coffin of Queen Elizabeth II, draped with the Royal Standard of Scotland, leaves Balmoral on the beginning of its journey to Edinburgh
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This is the world that Charles III and the rest of us inhabit. It is no surprise that embedded in and drawing on his feudal heritage and sensibility, the then Prince Charles extended his involvement in charities that responded to the inequalities and inequities of capitalism to encompass concerns about the land, the built environment and city, nature and environment and climate change.

King Charles III will do no less and no more.

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Stewart Sweeney, Adelaide, Australia

Family life

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Back in August 1978, I was invited to be minister for the weekend at Balmoral. Dinner on the Sunday was definitely a close family occasion, though Prince Philip was absent. So it was no surprise when 18 year-old Prince Andrew piped up across the small table to his mother, “Have you heard how Papa got on?” “Oh, yes”, the Queen replied, “He came in sixth.”

“Sixth?” came the response, with a stress that showed not just disappointment but real disgust.

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What came into my mind was that with a typical teenager to cope with the Queen has normal family problems too! But instantly, the maturer and ever-sensitive brother Prince Charles intervened to explain to me, the only guest present, that Prince Philip was over in Switzerland for a carriage-driving event, and while he just used horses from the Windsor stables other competitors had much superior Welsh ponies.

Early the next summer, I noticed in The Scotsman that the Queen’s birthday gift to her husband was a team of Welsh ponies.

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(Rev) Jack Kellet, Innerleithen, Scottish Borders

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Numbers game

It was always regrettable that the late Queen was officially designated “Elizabeth II”. Everyone, and especially Scots, know that Scotland never had a previous monarch with the regnal name “Elizabeth”. Consequently some referred to her as “Elizabeth I & II”. In 1953, the use of “II” on pillar boxes here caused considerable objection, even public protest, resulting in it being replaced by the Crown of Scotland.

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But then the United Kingdom itself had no previous monarch of that name. Created in 1801, at a time when George III was king of Great Britain, Queen Elizabeth was the first monarch of the UK with that name. Consequently she was neither the first nor second “Elizabeth” and no regnal number should have been applied.

For the same reason, the new king is not the third Charles of the UK, as the two previous monarchs of that name were kings of Great Britain, a state that disappeared when it was subsumed into the UK.

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Steuart Campbell, Edinburgh

Lying in state

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It seems particularly fitting that the late Queen's body lay for one night at Holyroodhouse – even more had it been in the adjoining former Abbey and Chapel Royal. For here lie the remains of so many of her royal ancestors: David II, James II, Mary of Gueldres, James V, Mary of Guise, Lord Darnley, and others. Many of their remains were desecrated by the mob in the anti-Catholic riots of 1688 and reinterred by Queen Victoria.

As St George’s, Windsor, later came to replace Westminster as chief royal mausoleum, so did Holyrood and others replace Iona and Dunfermline. Indeed, this must be the first time a royal corpse has lain at Holyrood since 1567.

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St Giles’, for the second night in Edinburgh, is differently significant in being where Queen Elizabeth was proffered the Honours of Scotland in June 1953.

H.I.R. Allan, Edinburgh

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Kick in the teeth

Aidan Smith’s article should be compulsory reading for the Scottish football authorities who overreacted in cancelling the weekend’s fixtures and caused unnecessary expense for many travelling fans, not to mention additional fixture congestion.

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Matches could have continued with a minute’s applause, which should have been the protocol at Tynecastle last Thursday evening, rather than silence which has been disrupted on several occasions in the past at various grounds.

The couple of idiots who disrupted the proceedings at Tynecastle just encouraged the anti-Catholic sectarian bigots in Lower Section N, who embarrass Hearts away supporters on a regular basis, when they retaliated by politicising matters with their renditions of Rule Britannia and Born Under a Union Flag and led to more booing from the crowd.

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As an individual, the Queen was universally admired and worked on despite her declining health but the latest surveys suggest that the monarchy is only supported by a minority in Scotland.

It is also time to reconsider the archaic British national anthem as even the North Korean anthem, which was originally to the tune of Auld Lang Syne, does not glorify the head of state or evoke the crushing of one constitute part of the country.

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Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

Exemplary dignity

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Over the years I have often criticised the First Minister for her lack of dignity and grace and I found her body language when with Boris Johnson or with members of the royal family embarrassing and merely and obviously playing up to her party’s extremist fringe. As well, I thought the SNP’s attitude to the free book produced at UK level for children to mark the 70th anniversary of Elizabeth’s accession to the throne was churlish, mean-minded and totally unnecessary.

However, in the wake of the Queen’s death, may I say the First Minister has acted to date in exemplary fashion. Being dignified is not as hard as perhaps she thought.

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Maybe she will now realise that being pleasant and courteous and graceful is easier than being churlish and does not diminish political views in any way, in fact much the opposite. It is a pity for Scotland’s image that she could not have learned this a long time ago.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh

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Charles’ qualities

I suppose it was inevitable that there would be one spiteful comment on our new head of state, but Joe Moir (Letters, 10 September) cannot even decide if he favours a monarchy or a republic.

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Charles’s long apprenticeship makes him the best-prepared incoming monarch ever. To pass the baton to William now would be disgracefully insulting to Charles and to the memory and legacy of the late Queen, and grossly unfair to William, Catherine and their young family.

John Birkett, St Andrews, Fife

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Polish lessons

It is the time of year when, all over Scotland, adults are enrolling for language classes, whether daytime or evening.

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In most council areas, one can sign up for French, German, Italian and Spanish. However, we now have more than 100,000 Scots who speak Polish as their first language at home and I suggest the time has come to address that omission in our leisure classes.

Poles are the most common non-British nationality in Scotland.

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John V Lloyd, Inverkeithing, Fife

Green oasis

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John Lightfoot (Letters, 10 September) highlights the fact that Edinburgh residents are constantly fighting to preserve the city's green spaces for future generations against repeated attempts to exploit and destroy them for profit by property developers.

One such green space is Midmar Paddock, a large field dominated by a large copse of trees beside Blackford Hill, the Hermitage of Braid and Blackford Pond. At one time in the not-too-distant past, it was used for grazing. Now, it is a quiet space for members of the public to stroll, away from the busy, nearby streets; to walk their dogs; to jog, or sometimes to have small get-togethers in the afternoon sun and chat. A number of councillors for the area have been expressing their deep concern at a developer's plans to build "two substantial detached houses, a large private care home and six special needs flats plus various amenities such as a cafe and an extended car park", to quote a recent message sent by Councillor Neil Ross.

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I understand that none of the councillors for that area are in favour and I would be very surprised if any local residents are either. This area is an oasis of peace, a valuable green space for wildlife to live in with trees and plants around them, not streets and tarmac. It is part of the city's lungs.

Edinburgh is full of nursing homes as it is. It is regrettable that the City of Edinburgh Council has not taken a stand against this sort of cynical exploitation – it is hard to think of any other expression that would express the outrage many of us feel about this matter – and taken the land into public ownership to safeguard it for everyone. It is high time that it did.

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Andrew HN Gray, Edinburgh

Write to The Scotsman

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