The laying on of hands

In the Middle Ages, and right up until 1714, it was believed that ills could be cured by a king or queen laying their hands on an afflicted individual. The ceremony of the laying on of hands was most commonly associated with the disease scrofula, a bacterial inflammation of the lymph glands which usually causes disfiguring but painless lesions on the neck. Noawadays it is easily treated with a course of antibiotics. The disease is rarely fatal and often goes into spontaneous remission, a miraculous seeming disappearance which was hailed by 17th century Nicolas Witchells as “Proofe that ye Monarche is indeede Marvellous.”

Today the Queen and assorted other members of her family, but not the one with the miraculously vanishing sweat glands, came on a visit to Scotland, stopping off in Edinburgh for a spot of sycophantic pseudo-mediaeval ritual before buggering off to Balmoral for a summer of massacring the local wildlife. Perhaps the British state is hoping that this spot of passing monarchical attention will miraculously cure what Westminster regards as the unsightly outbreak of independence support in Scotland. Given the other royal stories to hit the press today, that seems about as likely to happen as Prince Charles refusing to accept Fortnum and Mason’s bags and suitcases stuffed with banknotes, presented to him and his staff by some Middle Eastern potentate with a record of trashing human rights that would make even Priti Patel blush.

There has of course been no impropriety. Accepting suitcases stuffed with cash from authoritarian rulers is all part of the job for a [checks notes] working royal. It was all for *charidee* so that makes it all A-OK and totally above board.

Not that I have any affection or sympathy for Prince Charles, a cosseted and indulged man who reeks of hypocrisy, but it is interesting that just a few days after he criticised the British Government’s despicable, unlawful, and morally repugnant policy of sending asylum seekers on a one way trip to a Central African dictatorship with a record on human rights as poor as those of the regimes they’re fleeing, up pops the Daily Mail with some dirt on him dating from 2015, a story which they have known about for seven years but only now have chosen to publish.

Prince Charles has now called for an investigation into the “cash in bags” controversy, Which is a bit odd seeing as how he was the one who accepted the suitcases and shopping bags stuffed full of dosh. There’s no need for an investigation, he just needs to tell us all why he thought that behaving as though he was a drug baron in the middle of a dodgy cocaine deal was remotely appropriate behaviour for anyone never mind the next head of state. What does this sordid little episode tell us about his judgement, even if as he asserts, it was all legitimate? The Prince’s representatives say that “all correct procedures were followed”, which makes you wonder what the “correct procedures” are when it comes to accepting bags of cash from the leaders of oppressive regimes.

Meanwhile, as his maw arrived in Edinburgh on her summer hols, it came out that she and her minions have been intervening to get Scottish legislation altered even before it comes before Parliament meaning that MSPs don’t even know that the royal family has been meddling in the democratic process in order to protect the financial and other interests of the royal household. A Scottish government memo obtained by the Guardian newspaper has revealed that “it is almost certain” that draft legislation has been secretly changed in order to secure the Queen’s approval.

Under rules known in Scotland as Crown Consent, which are imposed upon Holyrood by the Westminster Parliament, the monarch and her advisors are routinely given advance sight of all legislation which could potentially have an impact on the Queen’s personal property or public powers. Effectively this gives the royal household a back door into legislation allowing it to make changes to any proposed laws that it dislikes or which it fears may affect the private wealth of the Windsor family. The fact that this intervention takes place before the proposed new laws are presented to Holyrood means that MSPs have no way of knowing if the royal household has intervened in order to protect its vast wealth.

Last year, lawyers for the royal household secretly lobbied Scottish ministers to change a draft law in order to exempt the queen’s private land from a major initiative to cut carbon emissions. The exemption they secured meant that the Queen is the only private landowner in Scotland who is not required to facilitate the construction of pipelines to heat buildings using renewable energy. Since the start of her reign in 1952, the Queen and Prince Charles have vetted more than 1,000 laws enacted by the Westminster parliament under the consent mechanism. And yet despite literally having a licence to exempt themselves from legislation that might cost them money, Members of this immensely entitled family still feel the need to accept bags of cash from Middle Eastern autocrats.

As long as Scotland remains a part of the United Kingdom this kind of scandal will continue, but what will also continue are all the other instances of royal grift that we never get to hear about. The biggest scandal here are all the scandals which are kept under wraps. You can be quite sure that for every marital infidelity, suitcase full of cash, or pauchled law that we hear about there are dozens more which are kept firmly under wraps and never come to public attention. The queen passing through Edinburgh on her way to her Highland estate isn’t going to change any of that. Westminster will never change it. The only thing that will change it is independence and a written constitution. Tomorrow Scotland has a far more important appointment than a passing visit from the queen, we will find out more about the steps towards this country’s date with destiny and the independence referendum to come, when the people of Scotland can lay their own hands on Scotland’s future and cure it of Westminster’s ills.

Many thanks to everyone who kindly supported the annual fundraiser. It’s always a nerve wracking time, I’m literally asking people to put their money where my mouth is. I’m delighted to say that the target of £5000 wasn’t just reached it was smashed. From all sources, the Gofundme page, PayPal donations, and direct donations by cheque or into my bank account, the grand total raised was an incredible £11,094. In my wildest dreams  Icould not have expected it to go so well and my deepest thanks to everyone who contributed.  It is heartening to know that so many people value my writing and that there is still an appreciative audience for a positive pro-independence message that concentrates on making the case for independence and debunking the arguments of the real enemies of Scottish independence, the Conservatives and their little helpers.  That’s what I will keep doing thanks to you.

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