The National:

THE COP at Glasgow unfolds every hour with some new horror, or inspiration, or insight. As Glasgow (and Scotland) are routinely patronised, othered and excluded many are also bringing their best selves to the party.

Projects like the Govan Free State and the Landing Hub or the much-derided XR Red Rebels (who descended on the HQ of JP Morgan today) are bringing inspiration, symbolism and critique. People are making spaces and creating and framing what's going on, live. One of the striking things about this event is how much the protestors and activists have raised and changed their game with an imagination and boldness that mirrors the changes we all know is needed.

Last night at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery, one of Glasgow's favourite cultural centres, the great and the good descended for a Royal COP banquet. The event was inevitably surrounded by protestors who felt that such lavish back-slapping was perhaps inappropriate given that all that was on display so far was rank hypocrisy and obscene wealth, and a complete failure of leadership.

READ MORE: Leaders not wearing face masks at COP26 VIP event despite Scottish Covid rules

If the idea of a Royal Banquet was a strangely un-Glaswegian one, it was in sync with the vibe of the whole event. This is a conference in but not of Glasgow, only glimpses of Scottish figures views or cultures are permitted and only then on the fringes.

The Daily Mail correspondent was passing out at the prospect of such a banquet. Their "Royal Editor" Rebecca English wrote: "The Prince of Wales, Duchess of Cornwall and the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arrive at Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum for a world leaders’ reception @COP26 Kate in a blue coat dress by Eponine, Camilla in teal Bruce Oldfield featuring buttons recycled from another outfit."

Just think of the carbon savings from those recycled buttons! Thrifty.

Guests, Rebecca told us, were offered refreshments of traditional Scottish canapes, Ridgeview Vintage English Sparkling Wine and COP26 blended whisky supplied by the Scottish Whisky Association and enjoyed music from a string quartet from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

Much of the media coverage hovers at this level.

READ MORE: UK given Fossil of the Day award by climate group as crowds mar COP26

The Daily Express front page today followed the story of the "Queen's emotive plea to save our 'fragile' planet". Her Maj - according to the Express - showed "pride for dear Philip, Charles and Wills". This is all part of the strange ongoing effort to reinvent Prince Philip as a Great Environmentalist, rather than a man who was known by most people for his racism and who enjoyed shooting tigers.

But if it's easy to laugh at "Philip, Charles and Wills" as our saviours (and it is), the royals are really just window dressing. The entire cavalcade of flying dignitaries, diplomats, SPADS and professional carbon consultants feels like an exercise in self-importance and exceptionalism.

If the jet-setting and black limousine scene smacks of an other-worldly elite, that's good. If Boris Johnson's performance seems like one dripping with insincerity and desperate opportunism, that too is good. COP is an exercise in revelation. It's a revelation of the corporate-captured political elite and it's a revelation of the inspirational alternatives that lie on the fringes.

In all of this Britain is represented solely by white upper-classmen, whether they be Boris Johnson, Prince Charles or David Attenborough.

READ MORE: UN chief praises Scotland's efforts to tackle climate change

The event is likely to hot-up as these contradictions pile-up, as the exclusion, not just of Glasgow and Scotland but of the young, the dispossessed and those from the global south becomes a glaring admission. The spectacle speaks to the idea that there is no environmental justice without social justice, there is no climate solutions without democratic solutions and their is no real change without system change. COP's telling us all of that, and that's no bad thing at all.

But if much of this seems funny, or tragic, the reality is that things will heat up from Friday when the big demo kicks off, and beyond as the eyes of the world watch the conference unfold.