THE death of Queen Elizabeth (who was certainly not the “Second” of Scotland) and the accession of King Charles III (happily a regnal number of equal accuracy for Scotland and England) has naturally provoked much discussion in nationalist circles about whether an independent Scotland should be a monarchy or a republic.

Many nationalists, especially those on the left, take it for granted that a progressive independent Scotland must be a republic. After all, is not a hereditary monarchy inherently undemocratic? However, it is long-standing SNP policy that Scotland remains a monarchy even after independence is achieved. There are very good reasons why this pro-monarchy policy promotes independence – both pragmatic and principled.

The pragmatic argument for retaining the monarchy immediately post-independence is very simple – it will maximise the pro-independence vote. There will be very few, if any, opponents of the monarchy who would vote no to independence simply because the immediate post-independence Scottish state had a monarch.

After all, even Ireland achieved independence as a monarchy and only later became a republic. By contrast, there are many supporters of the monarchy who would vote no if they knew that the immediate consequence of independence was a republic of Scotland. Also, there are many supporters of independence who would see the continuation of the Scots monarchy as a friendly link to England and indeed to other Commonwealth monarchies.

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A separate crown worn by the same person is a powerful signal of togetherness. A sign that an independent Scotland would still be a friend of England and of the English people. To many “indy-curious” Scots, the end of the Union with England is a rather scary prospect, and, without being flippant, it may be that the “teddy bear” of monarchy may be a psychological comfort to many as Scotland sets out on the choppy waters of independence.

Humans are not entirely rational animals, and we should recognise the power of emotions in our identities.

Beyond mere present political pragmatism, there are powerful arguments of principle, historical and constitutional, in favour of retaining the monarchy. Historically, Scotland has always been a monarchy and even the union with England in 1603 came about by dynastic inheritance – not by English conquest.

And dynastic inheritance was considered perfectly legitimate in the 17th century, when modern concepts of democracy were simply unknown. In this regard, the position of the Scots monarchy is very different from that in Ireland where English rule was imposed by military might. In Ireland, independence and republicanism have long gone together: the crown was the symbol of an unjust regime.

By contrast, in Scotland, the Crown is part of our national identity an important thread in the tartan weave of our history. The Covenanters turned against Cromwell when they beheaded Charles I and proclaimed his son Charles II. The Jacobites fought in the 18th century to restore the Crown to the Stuarts – not to abolish the Crown.

There is also the constitutional argument. It is often argued by many on the left that monarchy – as well as being in its nature undemocratic – promotes anti-progressive values. While it must be admitted that the current British royal family is at the apex of the class system and so arguably sanctifies the public school grip on society, there is nothing inevitable about this. Australia, Canada and New Zealand share a monarch with Britain, but they don’t have its class structures and snobberies.

Looking beyond the Commonwealth, it would be hard to argue that the republican USA is more egalitarian or meritocratic than the monarchies of Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Moreover, as has often been pointed out, the problem with a republic is that the head of state will inevitably be political choice and that can create tensions between loyalty to country and party, as can be seen all too clearly in America where the Republican right has tried to argue that to be anti-Trump is to be anti-American.

By contrast, in Scandinavia, we can see how monarchy can be a powerful political symbol of national unity within a progressive society.

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The actual physical Scots crown, one of the three honours of Scotland, is one of our oldest symbols of Scotland’s sovereignty. It was refashioned by King James V in 1540, and may well contain gold from the crown of Robert the Bruce. It was so precious a symbol to the Scots that it was hidden from the Lord Protector Cromwell – who would have melted it down, as he had done to the ancient English crown, forcing Charles II to commission a new one in 1660.

That is the same ancient artefact of Scots sovereignty that was carried before Elizabeth at the opening ceremonies at Holyrood and which was laid upon the late Queen’s coffin during the public mourning in St Giles’ Cathedral.

That Scots crown was last actually worn upon the head by a living monarch at the coronation of Charles II at Scone 1651. Perhaps the name Charles III is a good omen that the auld Scots crown will soon once again be worn by a King O’ Scots, monarch of a free Scotland?

Scott Crichton Styles is a lecturer in law at the University of Aberdeen