THE SNP should debate the role of monarchy in an independent Scotland but must not let it "derail" the Yes campaign, a senior MP has said.

Republican Tommy Sheppard spoke out after his fellow party MP Stewart McDonald said the SNP should clarify its position on having an unelected head of state ahead of any fresh independence vote.

McDonald – who is also for Scotland becoming a republic – has urged the party to engage in debate on the matter in the run-up to the coronation in May, saying “it is surely right and proper that we debate our party’s position on this before any future referendum”.

Sheppard insisted we need a “grown-up conversation” on whether the royal family is relevant to modern society but remains cautious about the party drawing up a firm stance on the matter before having achieved independence.

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The Edinburgh East MP told The National: “I think it would be a good idea if the party discussed it [its position on the monarchy] but I still hold my position that I think there is a difference between whether or not we become independent and who is the head of state.

“It’s an entirely legitimate [position] to want an independent Scotland as part of the Commonwealth with the King as head of state, and it’s also legitimate to want an independent republic with an elected head of state.

“Both of those camps need to be part of the campaign for independence because unless we get our independence we don’t get a choice on the matter.

“I think clearly the coronation is going to provoke a lot of interest. The Palace are desperate and are making a huge effort to try and appear relevant, but that’s not going to disguise the fact we need a serious grown-up conversation about whether the medieval concept of kings and queens is in any way relevant to our modern democracy in the UK, frankly, but certainly in an independent Scotland.”

The National: Debate around the future of the monarchy has intensified since the death of Queen Elizabeth and the accession of King Charles Debate around the future of the monarchy has intensified since the death of Queen Elizabeth and the accession of King Charles (Image: PA)

Asked whether the SNP needed to have a firm stance on the monarchy before any new independence referendum, Sheppard added: “I don’t know about a firm position. I think a debate would be welcome and I think it would be useful for the party to have review but there’s a difference between the party and the Yes movement.

“The party can have a view but the point is that an independent Scottish Parliament will make these reforms or not depending on what people want at that time.

“The bigger picture is to make sure we have the constitutional powers to make that decision and we are still some way out from that so while I am a lifelong republican, I don’t want this to derail the debate about becoming independent.”

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McDonald said the monarchy debate need not be “urgent or all-consuming” or take away from the SNP’s argument independence would improve fairness, living standards and public services in Scotland.

Scotland’s Future, the blueprint for independence before the 2014 referendum, said: “Scotland will be a constitutional monarchy for as long as the people of Scotland wish us to be so.”

Nicola Sturgeon has previously suggested she is in favour of an independent Scotland holding on to the monarch as head of state.

The Alba party – who are for having an elected head of state – have insisted Sturgeon’s position is at odds with the majority of Scots.

General secretary Chris McEleny said: “It is an absurdity Scotland should gain its independence only to hold on to the very institutions that are at the heart of the British establishment. 

“It is for the SNP to determine their own policies but Nicola Sturgeon’s wholehearted commitment to retaining the monarchy and her fealty to King Charles are at odds with the majority of the people of Scotland. 

“It is perverse that Scotland is an energy rich land but fuel poor Scots are supposed to pay homage to a man that wears a crown and lives in a palace.”

In response to McDonald’s latest comments, Green MSP Ross Greer highlighted how the royal family has used its power to influence Scottish legislation and insisted Scotland must be a republic if it is to become independent.

He added: “The monarchy is an outdated and reactionary institution which has no place in the 21st century.

“The royal family has consistently used its power and influence to lobby against progressive change, and to protect their own privileges and lifestyle.

“The Scottish Greens’ position is very clear, we believe that an independent Scotland should be a republic. Power should always lie with the people, and not with a wealthy and unelected head of state.”