Royal sources spoke out after fears Burns Night displays were dig at SNP independence vow

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Coronavirus restrictions have eased just in time for Scots across Scotland and the rest of the UK to celebrate Burns Night. Falling every year on January 25, Burns Night marks Robert Burns’ birthday, the man who is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland and is celebrated worldwide. Burns was born in 1759 and died in 1796, with the first event to mark his birth thought to have been observed by the Burns Club of Greenock in the Scottish Lowlands in 1802.

They marked it with a dinner on January 29, which they wrongly believed was his birthday, the following year setting the date straight.

While last year’s events were significantly curtailed due to stringent lockdown measures, many managed to celebrate with the friends and family members that they lived with.

This included the Royal Family, as a handful of seniors marked the event by posting messages to social media.

Prince William and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge uploaded a video after sending NHS workers at a Dundee hospital a traditional Scottish treat — including a lunch of haggis, neeps and tatties — reciting some of the words of Mr Burns’ famous poem, ‘Auld Lang Syne’.

Royal Family: Sources close to the Palace previously said the Firm's celebrations were not political

Royal Family: Sources close to the Palace previously said the Firm’s celebrations were not political (Image: GETTY)

Robert Burns: Burns Night marks the birthday of the famous Scottish poet

Robert Burns: Burns Night marks the birthday of the famous Scottish poet (Image: GETTY)

Separately, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, read her favourite verse from the poem ‘My Heart’s In The Highlands’.

The Queen’s official Twitter account wished its Scottish followers a happy Burns Night and also posted a verse from ‘My Heart’s In The Highlands’.

At the time, the Daily Express’ royal correspondent, Richard Palmer, made clear that these public messages were in no way intended to make a case for Scotland’s staying in the UK.

He said a number of royal sources “insisted” that the displays had no political undertones.

Writing on Twitter, he said: “It’s been a day of royal celebrations of Burns Night.

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Prince William: He and Kate Middleton posted a video reciting some of Auld Lang Syne

Prince William: He and Kate Middleton posted a video reciting some of Auld Lang Syne (Image: Kensington Royal)

“Prince Charles and Camilla regularly celebrate it but others less so publicly.

“Royal sources insist the public displays have nothing to do with concern at Westminster over growing support for Scottish independence.”

While the Royal Family is meant to remain “strictly neutral with respect to political matters”, snippets of its opinion about Scottish independence have leaked out of the Palace over the years.

Ahead of the first independence referendum in 2014, the Queen said she hoped “people will think very carefully about the future” to a well-wisher outside church near her Balmoral estate in Aberdeenshire.

It followed reports that she was growing increasingly concerned about the vote.

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Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall: She also posted a message to social media marking Burns Night

Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall: She also posted a message to social media marking Burns Night (Image: Clarence House)

Holyrood: The Queen pictured at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in October 2021

Holyrood: The Queen pictured at the opening of the Scottish Parliament in October 2021 (Image: GETTY)

Royal officials have insisted her comment did not breach the monarch’s constitutional impartiality.

Following the reports, the Palace issued a statement which read: “The sovereign’s constitutional impartiality is an established principle of our democracy and one which the Queen has demonstrated throughout her reign.

“As such, the monarch is above politics and those in political office have a duty to ensure this remains the case.

“Any suggestion that the Queen would wish to influence the outcome of the current referendum campaign is categorically wrong.

Nicola Sturgeon: The Scottish First Minister has pledged to get a second indy vote in by 2024

Nicola Sturgeon: The Scottish First Minister has pledged to get a second indy vote in by 2024 (Image: Express Newspapers)

“Her Majesty is simply of the view this is a matter for the people of Scotland.”

However, former Prime Minister David Cameron famously let slip that the Queen “purred down the line” after he phoned to tell her Scotland had voted no to independence.

He later apologised for the comments, admitting it was a “terrible mistake” to announce the Queen’s reaction to his message.

On Sunday, Ms Sturgeon insisted steps will be taken to facilitate another vote taking place before the end of 2023.

She said she was determined to “give people in Scotland the choice over our future” now that the country is on the “downward slope” of the Omicron wave.

Independence: It is thought somewhere around 50 percent of Scots want independence

Independence: It is thought somewhere around 50 percent of Scots want independence (Image: GETTY)

Appearing on the BBC’s Sunday Morning show, Ms Sturgeon was asked when legislation for a referendum would be tabled in Holyrood.

She said: “The preparatory work on that is underway right now.

“We haven’t decided on the date that we would seek to introduce the Bill. We will decide that in the coming weeks.

“But what I have said, and I will happily say again to you right now, is that my intention is to take the steps that will facilitate a referendum happening before the end of 2023.

“That’s the proposition that just short of a year ago I fought an election on and was re-elected as First Minister. My party was re-elected with a historically high share of the vote.

“This is about democracy. It’s about allowing the people of Scotland to choose our own future.”

She added: “I make no apology for the fact that over the past two years, as First Minister, I have prioritised steering the country through a pandemic.”



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