Britain is eroding. The homeland itself is breaking up. Ireland showed the way. The Welsh may be the next

Britain is eroding. The empire went long ago. Now, the homeland itself is breaking up. Ireland showed the way. If the Welsh who are said to pray on their knees and – prey this time – on their neighbours follow Scotland, Cornwall, where an organization called Mebyon Kernow ( Cornish Brotherhood) is stirring again, may be the next.

Protestant Ulster, convinced Catholics are more loyal to the half- crown than the Crown, could emerge as loyaltys last bastion.

But if Belfast is uncomfortably close to Republican Catholic Dublin, Queen Elizabeth and her family are assured of a welcome in Stanley in the Falkland Islands where everyone wears the Union Jack. Prince William will fly there next month despite Argentinian huffing and puffing.

This fissiparous trend prompted the comment that a passport will soon be needed to cross the road. India is far less indulgent with secessionists than what is rapidly becoming the Disunited Kingdom.

No one in Britain clamours for Alexander Salmond, the Scottish National Party leader, to be hanged for demanding a referendum on independence. No one even demands an Official Forces ( Special Powers) Act to be clamped on rebellious Scottish nationalists. Cynics might say that with the Royal Navys nuclear subs in Scottish waters, further security measures are unnecessary. But Prime Minister David Camerons ready consent to a referendum as long as it is under his own aegis – one held by the Scots would be no more than ” an opinion poll” his government says – indicates a measure of sophistication. He also insists theres no need to wait till Salmonds date of 2014. Thats the 700th anniversary of the battle of Bannockburn, one of Scotlands rare victories over the English, when the Scots will be on a nationalistic high. If this seems rather a fragile basis for statehood, it must be remembered that the tartan that is today regarded as a Scots icon became ubiquitous only when Englands Germanic King George IV visited Scotland in 1822.

The Delhi Durbar of 1912 wasnalt39t the only invented tradition. That contrived recreation of Mughal grandeur should remind London to take back the Stone of Scone just as it took away the imperial crown made for the durbar and paid for by Indians. The India Office was unconcerned with practical considerations like a crown being useless as a hat and a throne being useless as a seat. But if King George V could masquerade as a Mughal emperor, the glittering bauble might tempt other pretenders. The Stone of Scone, on which medieval Scottish monarchs were crowned, is a much more poignant symbol of sovereignty, as was confirmed when Scottish students stole it from Westminster Abbey in 1950. The Stone was recovered but allowed to remain in Edinburgh Castle where, who knows, it might encourage Salmond to nurse kingly ambitions.

Of course, the Foreign Hand is behind all this mischief, just as in Nagaland, Manipur or Jammu and Kashmir. But whose hand? Sarojini Naidu, Harold MacMillan and the Saudi technocrat, Sheikh Zakir Yamani, are three known culprits. It started with MacMillan stealing a line from Sarojini Naidus poem ” To a Buddha seated on a Lotus” without so much as a by- your- leave and passing off her resonant ” wind of change” phrase as his own. The wind blew strong in Africa but also rekindled ancient memories in the glens and highlands of Scotland.

Then, when the North Sea was being explored for oil and gas, Harold Wilson pleaded with Sheikh Yamani to join the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries ( OPEC). Strike oil first and then come back, the Saudi advised. When oil did gush or seep, or whatever happens under water, Wilson rushed to OPEC headquarters in Vienna and, lo and behold, the good Sheikh had kept his word.

A new chair had been drawn up at the high table of the worlds oil producers, but the small sign – much smaller than those for giant producers like Saudi Arabia or Libya – read “

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