I’M requested to meet the boss at Bute House at 6am on the morrow. You always know there’s something serious afoot with the FM when she wants to do business at such an audacious hour. Her early-morning briefings have entered Holyrood folklore. If you’re summoned for one of these meetings, then you’re either about to be eviscerated and served up for breakfast or there’s something rum brewing with which she can’t be seen to be involved in any official capacity.

There was that time in 2018 when Sir Alex Effortless-Pemberton, the Queen’s top equerry in Scotland, was carpeted after he got squiffy on the vodka before a grouse shoot in Sutherland and started blabbing about what HM thought about Scottish independence. Witnesses say that although Nicola had no authority over him, the poor chap was led back

out the door in a pitiful state and thereafter resigned his directorship at Blackley & Stanton, the Edinburgh private bank, and joined a Hare Krishna sect in Wester Hailes.


THE FM is wearing a rather fetching yellow twin-piece which – if I’m not mistaken – is straight off the runway from Dolce & Gabbana’s triumphant spring show in Paris. And I’m pleased to see that the Louboutins are back. These ones are a lustrous focaccia and I swear that the points of those heels could thread a needle through silk with nary a trace it had ever been there. Such an ensemble means she’s on top of her game and that no prisoners will be taken.

“Good morning, Rupert. Apologies for getting you out of bed so early but a matter of some delicacy has arisen that may require your knowledge of the Westminster civil service.

“We’ve received a somewhat startling communication,” she says, “that appears to be from Harry and Meghan, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex. It seems Harry wants entirely to renounce his connection from the British royal family and declare his support for an independent Scotland. What’s more, Meghan and him seem to be tiring of California and would like to set up home in Scotland. This could be the propaganda coup that might just tip the independence scales in our favour.”

I’m immediately suspicious and counsel a degree of caution. “Can we be sure that it’s really him,” I ask. “And even if it is genuine, His Royal Highness seems to have recently gone completely off the reservation. Last week he claimed that his dolphin spirit guide had warned him in a dream that MI6 were plotting to kidnap him.”

“Yes, I’m aware of that. Which is why I’m sending you to meet both of them. They’re making a clandestine visit to Scotland tomorrow where they’ll be staying at a lodge house on the Hopetoun Estate. I want you to meet them and analyse their intentions and then report back to me. I believe you met him socially once or twice.” At this, she winked at me conspiratorially.

And it was true. I’d gone drinking with Harry after one of The Spectator summer parties where we both ended up at Ginola’s on Park Lane, a high-class flop-house nicknamed the House of the Rising Sun owing to its popularity with desiccated members of the fallen aristocracy whose family cheques wouldn’t be accepted in any other establishment.


I MEET their Highnesses in a garden conservatory at the rear of this charming stone cottage. Harry greets me warmly. He’s wearing a pink sarong with a dandelion pattern stitched into the fabric in a somewhat rudimentary manner. Meghan is dressed identically. “Hello old chap, what a lovely surprise,” he says effusively and introduces me to the Duchess who is delightfully delightful. “Harry has told me all about you and how you saved him from the paps that night in London. Do you like our outfits? They’re from my new collection which I’m launching next month.”

Soon, they get down to business. “Thing is, Rupey, I’ve always had a soft spot for the old Jockos and someone told me last week that they want to be independent of London. Well, that makes two of us! So, me and Meg were thinking: what if we agreed to start a new royal lineage in Scotland as your first king and queen? We’d rule as the people’s monarchs and live somewhere unostentatious, perhaps a private apartment in Edinburgh Castle to start off with.”

I’m beginning to see some rewarding possibilities with this plan and call ahead to the FM to give her my thoughts in person the very next day.


I’M rudely awoken by loud banging on my front door. There are two large men in black suits and sunglasses. “Can I help you?” I ask with a degree of irritation. “We’re British Intelligence. Get dressed; you’re coming with us.”