Queen of Scots, but for how long?

Queen of Scots, but for how long?
Scottish separatists say they will keep Queen Elizabeth II if the country votes on Thursday to leave the United Kingdom.

LONDON - Scottish separatists say they will keep Queen Elizabeth II if the country votes Thursday to leave the United Kingdom, but some question how secure the monarchy would be post-independence.

Members of First Minister Alex Salmond's separatist Scottish National Party (SNP) government have said that if independence wins it should be up to the people to decide whether to keep the queen.

The independence campaign's chairman Dennis Canavan has even called for an early referendum on dumping the royals, calling hereditary monarchy an "affront to democracy and a complete anachronism".

The queen's 15 realms outside Britain - Australia, Canada and New Zealand included - have a viceroy and some experts suggest Scotland would likewise need a governor-general for permanent in-country representation and to avoid the queen directly receiving conflicting advice from her governments.

Queen Elizabeth was reported to tell a well-wisher on Sunday "I hope people will think very carefully about the future" after attending a church service near her Balmoral estate in Scotland.

Some newspapers suggest the 88-year-old monarch is "horrified" at the prospect of her kingdom breaking in two.

Buckingham Palace has only spoken officially to stress her constitutional impartiality and view that it is a matter for the people of Scotland.

England and Scotland have shared the same monarch since 1603 - the Union of the Crowns in one person.

But the 1707 Acts of Union formed one new, united state, Great Britain, and it is this political union that the separatists seek to unpick - meaning that the "United Kingdom" would remain.

"On independence, Scotland will be a constitutional monarchy, continuing the Union of the Crowns," says the Scottish government's prospectus for independence.

"The position of Her Majesty the Queen as head of state will form an intrinsic part of the constitutional platform.

But the left-of-centre New Statesman magazine has accused SNP chief Salmond of "counterfeit monarchism".

"Although it has never officially been a republican organisation, there has always been a strong thread of anti-royalist sentiment running through its rank and file," it has said.

Besides her constitutional ties, Queen Elizabeth's links to Scotland are personal. The queen's mother was from a Scottish noble family.

Currently the queen spends one week at the end of June at her official state residence in Scotland, the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, and her summer break in August and September at Balmoral, her personal estate in the Highlands.

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