There’s a sea of flame gathering in the twilight. It started with only one torch, but each newly lit passes the flame to two or three others. Soon we are legion. Our gathering point is the old station in our small town. A procession is to be led by the band of the ‘Hjemmeværnet’ — a kind of people’s reserve military grouping of part time volunteers. Behind them are the young local Scouts (Spejderkorps). They are the ones tasked with selling the torches. It’s a slick operation. They work in threes: one holds a small message board on a stick with a ‘Mobilepay’ number (for phone payment), another carries the torches, and a third hands them over. Suitably equipped, we line up behind the Scouts — and we’re all off to see the Queen.
Royalty is pretty much in vogue at the moment, and the anglophile Danes are lapping up the Coronation of England’s Charles III. Ironically, their own royal family is what Charles once referred to as one of Europe’s ‘bicycle’ monarchies. Who knew there was a pecking order among monarchs? I always thought Charles’ comment was the ultimate in snobbery — adding disdain to inbred privilege and entitlement.
Anyway, the band is playing and we’re off. One young child shouts to his parents, ‘Hele Fredensborg må være her!” (“All of Fredensborg must be here!”). The size and length of the procession would suggest he is right, to a child’s eye at least.
We’re heading for Fredensborg Palace, the Queen’s summer residence, and she’s just arrived. This is an annual tradition in our provincial town. We haven’t been along for years, but since our son is on a break from his new home among oor Auld Allies, we suggested a chance to rekindle his childhood torchlight memory.
He was up for it. In fact, I’ve noticed a growing sense of national identity in him of late. I don’t mean he suddenly feels Scottish, no, he associates with his Danish upbringing. And as so often happens, since he’s lived abroad he’s begun to value his ‘dansk indentitet’ more and more. There’s no cringe associated with identifying as Danish. Our independent North Sea neighbour, geographically slightly smaller than Scotland, enjoys respect outside its borders. And no one’s embarrassed about speaking a very old, minority European language. It is fundamental to who they are — it’s their mither tongue, after all.
Of course, if history had taken a different turn, the Danish language may have died out, relegated in status as merely a corrupt form of German. But thanks to Danish ‘cultural patriots’ of previous centuries, it is the language those of us who live here speak, entirely cringe-free. Food for thought, for Scots who had their mither tongue battered out of them because it was perceived as a ‘corrupt form of English’.
By the way, Queen Margrethe II doesn’t ‘own’ this impressive Fredensborg Palace. In fact, she doesn’t own any of the royal residences. It’s all state owned. She is given, by royal standards, a pretty modest yearly stipend to cover all expenses. The royal budget is something in the region of nine million pounds, to run the whole show — from palaces to drivers and cooks. Aye, Denmark has come a very long way from the absolutist hereditary monarchy which ruled from about 1660.
The subject of our own Scottish Crown was touched upon by Sara Salyers the other night on an @indyscotnews special.
“The last monarch that we can find, who actually took the Scottish Coronation oath, was Anne,” Sara said, “and she had already taken an oath to preserve the Crown in Scotland.”
Sara has been an absolute godsend for the independence movement. Her research on the Treaty of Union, the Crown in Scotland and its relation to our Claim of Right has been a revelation. She went on to say, regarding the Coronation,
“Some of us are aware that we’re witnessing a very serious crime against a sovereign nation. It’s the celebration of the annexation of Scotland.”
If you haven’t seen the United for Independence Special here’s the YouTube link:
Now, you might think from my description that Danes are a bunch of royalists who adore all things monarchy. But you’d be wrong. Queen Margrethe has had her share of family dysfunctions, some of which have involved messy divorces and remarriages among her offspring. Outside of TV royal correspondents, who live to talk about shoes, hats, and the paraphernalia of unearned privilege, Danes are rather pragmatic about the whole thing. The one exception, though, is Margrethe herself. Genuinely loved by a large section of the population, she is described as ‘folkelig’, which means she’s a head of state who relates to the people. Her New Year’s speech is watched by millions, and for good reason. Clearly showing her age these days, she still manages to capture the essence of Danishness. There’s a warmth and congeniality about her that comes across as sincere.
We Scots have been fortunate to have our own Crown de-mystified and explained to us by salvo.scot. The reason the Scottish Crown is so relevant is that we, the people, are the Crown. And the importance of this is tied in to the crucial fact that the entirety of Scotland’s land, sea, air space and the subterranean deposits, are ours. They belong to every Scottish man, woman and child. The theft of these natural resources, under the English definition of the Crown, is contrary to our constitutional reality. Our nation was not only annexed, but has been systematically robbed of its natural assets.
If we’re looking for an explanation of the crushing poverty we Scots have experienced across countless generations, it’s to be found in the theft of our sovereign territorial resources by our neighbour. Its constitutional coup d’etat succeeded in 1707, by threat, intimidation, and the cynical dishonesty we’ve come to associate with ‘Pefidious Albion’. Here’s a list of the bribes given to force an unwanted Union upon our people. If for no other reason, then these bribes alone should render the Union treaty illegitimate. Nul and void.
Tonight the inner courtyard is open. The scene is set on the terrace with a local brass ensemble and the Girl’s Choir from the Palace Church. They begin an a cappella rendition of ‘Du er som sådan en rose’ (You are so like a Rose). The intensely beautiful poetic composition* is delivered perfectly by the girls in the night air. It’s one of those timeless moments which, given the surroundings, could have been at any point in time since 1720, the year the palace was built.
The 83-year-old Queen gave a very brief message and thank you. The short ceremony ended with the Danish national anthem which, to my surprise, my son sang along to. “People only know the football version,” he said with some amusement, “they can only sing the three verses instead of all five.” That certainly explained some of the humming and hawing.
I expect this event will live long in his memory and in the memory of all who were there among the twilight torches. It’s moments like this that create a national identity, a sense of belonging, of being ‘amang yir ain fowk’. The down-sizing of the Danish monarchy by Margrethe, and her own age, mean that there’s a time limit on moments like this. As for Scotland, there’s clearly little love for Charles. He can only dream of the genuine respect and warmth that the Danish monarch enjoys. But apart from that, is Charles even our legitimate king? If he hasn’t taken the Scottish oath, he is merely an Auld Pretender.
*’Du er som sådan en rose’ (You are so like a Rose) link. You don’t have to speak or understand Danish to understand the sentiments in this song. This version is from the Danish state broadcaster.
MUSIK & TEKST: PHILLIP FABER/HENRIK NORDBRANDT