Monarchs should have separate coronation in independent Scotland, says Church
The Church of Scotland says monarchs should have a separate Scottish coronation in the event of the country becoming independent.
The proposal is outlined in a major report on Scottish independence by three Kirk councils – the Church and Society Council, the Committee on Ecumenical Relations, and the Legal Questions Committee.
If taken up by the Scottish Government, it would see the first monarch crowned in Scotland since Charles II at Scone Palace, Perthshire, in 1651.
The Church argues that a separate coronation ceremony for an independent Scotland would reaffirm the Church's firm commitment to the monarchy and serve as a reminder of the obligations of the monarch to uphold Scottish religious life and traditions, particularly his or her role with regard to the Church of Scotland.
Reverend Dr Doug Gay, co-author of the report and Principal of Trinity College, Glasgow University, said: "The Church of Scotland is a broad church with monarchists and republicans in its membership. However, officially and corporately it remains firmly committed to retaining the monarchy.
"The historic central view of the Church is that any monarch is King or Queen of the Scottish people, not the nation of Scotland. They rule only with the consent of the people.
"The Church would be in support of a Scottish Coronation to reflect this important role and to celebrate a unique relationship."
The councils also call for the Scottish Government's draft Scottish constitution to be published before the vote on independence in September 2014.
They argue it is critical that the country is able to debate the appropriate constitutional arrangements for governing an independent Scotland before people are asked to vote.
The report will be put forward for discussion at the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in May.
It also affirms the Kirk's desire for a draft constitution to recognise the role of people of faith in public life, and its preference to see an independent Scotland become a member of the Council of Europe, acceding to the European Convention on Human Rights and its protection of the right to religious freedom.
The report makes clear that any constitutional settlement should acknowledge the lawfulness of the Articles Declaratory, which affirm that the Church of Scotland is a national church under the headship of Christ.
Co-author of the report and Principal of Trinity College, Glasgow University, the Reverend Dr Doug Gay said: "I welcome this report and I am looking forward to it being debated at the General Assembly in a few weeks' time.
"It is vitally important that we are able to see any draft Scottish constitution before the referendum on Scottish independence. I am hopeful that whatever the outcome of the independence vote, we will continue to build a pluralist society where the views of those of all faiths and none can be heard fairly and without fear of prejudice."
Addressing the call in the report for a continuing central role for religion in public life, Convener of the Church of Scotland's Church and Society Council, Sally Foster-Fulton said: "The Church believes that the best way for all of us to flourish is to celebrate the diversity of Scottish life and make a safe space for the expression of all faiths and none.
"We want to see a society which acknowledges a role in public life for religion as well as non-religion, one which recognises tradition, respects diversity, and promotes unity."