Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Church of Scotland to debate coronations

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Media captionThe Queen's coronation was in 1953

Future monarchs should be crowned in Scotland as well as at Westminster Abbey if Scotland becomes independent, a Church of Scotland report suggests.

The proposal is one of a series of recommendations which was put forward in a paper to be discussed by the Kirk's General Assembly in May.

It says the ceremony would "symbolise their role as Queen or King of Scots".

The paper has also recommended that any written Scottish constitution should enshrine the Kirk as a national church.

The report was drafted by three of the church's bodies; the Church and Society Council, the Committee on Ecumenical Relations and the Legal Questions Committee.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said the debate was "a matter for the Church of Scotland and not something we would comment on".

The last monarch crowned in Scotland was Charles II, whose coronation took place at Scone Palace in Perthshire on New Year's Day 1651.

Since the Union of the Crowns of Scotland and England in 1603, all British monarchs have been crowned at Westminster Abbey in London.

Rev Dr Doug Gay, co-author of the report and principal of Trinity College, Glasgow University, said: "The Church of Scotland is a broad church with monarchists and republicans in its membership. However, officially and corporately it remains firmly committed to retaining the monarchy.

"The historic central view of the church is that any monarch is King or Queen of the Scottish people, not the nation of Scotland. They rule only with the consent of the people.

"The church would be in support of a Scottish Coronation to reflect this important role and to celebrate a unique relationship."

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who also speaks for the Scottish government on the constitution, said: "I don't think that is necessary, if you take the Queen just now she is head of state of many different Commonwealth countries, there doesn't require to be separate coronations in each of these.

"The oath that the Queen took at her coronation pledged that she would serve all the countries of the Commonwealth.

"I welcome the contribution that organisations like the church are making."

Roddy Martine, an author of two books on the Royal family in Scotland, said: "I think it's a lovely romantic idea. It ties in with our ancestry and tradition.

"I think a coronation for future monarchs regardless of the outcome of the referendum would be a very good thing. It would bring them more in touch with the everyday people.

"I think it would be very good for the Royal Family's image, and it would be very good for the people of Scotland to feel closer to them."

'Safe space'

Dr Gay also said it was "vitally important" the Yes Scotland campaign publish a draft written constitution before the referendum on independence is held on 18 September 2014.

The Kirk also said it would want to see the "acknowledgement of the lawfulness of the Articles Declaratory in any constitutional settlement".

The Articles Declaratory declares the Church of Scotland a national body which holds power over its ecclesiastical affairs.

The church has criticised the Scottish government's plans for equal marriage legislation, and has been debating the controversial issue of gay clergy.

Rev Sally Foster-Fulton, convener of the Church of Scotland's church and society council, said: "The church believes that the best way for all of us to flourish is to celebrate the diversity of Scottish life and make a safe space for the expression of all faiths and none.

"We want to see a society which acknowledges a role in public life for religion as well as non-religion, one which recognises tradition, respects diversity, and promotes unity."

But Scottish Greens co-convenor Patrick Harvie warned against any religion seeking to gain particular rights within a written constitution.

Mr Harvie said: "The church are talking about a pluralist society. That's what I'd like to see, not a particular privileged position for one religious tradition but a society which in the spirit of equalities legislation treats everybody equally."

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