By Bill Heaney
Dumbarton man Patrick Harvie, joint leader of the Green Party, made it clear in the Scottish Parliament this week that he is no royalist.
However, the former pupil of Dumbarton Academy told fellow MSPs who were recalled to Holyrood for the day to pay tribute to the late Prince Philip, : “I join the other party leaders in offering my sincere condolences to Prince Philip’s family, his friends and all those who will miss him.
“In this chamber, as in this country, we do not all share the same views of the monarchy, or the same feelings today. It would be wrong to pretend that we did. As a party that wishes for an elected head of state, we reflected carefully on whether and how we should take part in today’s proceedings. However, just as it would be wrong to give a performance of feelings not sincerely felt, it would equally be wrong to imply by our absence any kind of personal disrespect to those who have lost someone important to them, whether personally or otherwise.
“This has been a year of terrible loss for the world, including up to 150,000 Covid deaths across the UK—most of them announced without ceremony as daily statistics. The toll has been heaviest on those with the least, but although there is no great leveller in how we live our lives, we are reminded today that no extreme of wealth, privilege or status can protect us from mortality. “Jock Tamson’s bairns” may be something of a cliché, but in that respect every human being is, indeed, equal.
“Death comes to us all, and every family faces the pain of loss. Regardless of our different views, respect and compassion are due in equal measure to every one of us at such times.”
He added: “”Such moments bring pain to family and friends, and, with a public figure like Prince Philip, others will share that pain to a greater or lesser degree. For an individual, a family or a society, death is also part of life’s cycle, which brings a change of the generations. Those who come after will build on the legacy that they have been left, but they will also rethink, reinvent and alter course. They still owe much to those who went before, who may have lived by different values.
“Many have spoken about Prince Philip’s environmentalism. Today’s environmental movement overwhelmingly places responsibility for the global crisis on the powerful and would not seek to reconcile conservation with the blood sports of the wealthy. Yet it is still the case that a debt is owed to those whose environmentalism did achieve global awareness, even if it was shaped by values that were different from today’s.
“It is said that Prince Philip wished to modernise the monarchy. No doubt, in time, it will consider whether it can do so and how a royal family can keep pace with the modern, democratic society that it is supposed to serve, and how it must show respect for the diversity of that society in its words and its deeds. Others will question whether it can and should retain its place. That debate is not for today.
“Today is a moment to extend our thoughts to Prince Philip’s family and to all those who are grieving for their loved ones, in a spirit of respect for the equal value of every human life.”