SNP demand the body of Mary Queen of Scots
The move to repatriate the Catholic monarch has the backing of the Roman Catholic Church in Scotland, sundry historians, and the eminent composer James MacMillan.
Queen Mary, who was born at Linlithgow Palace, fled to England after she was forced to abdicate in 1567. She was held prisoner by her cousin Elizabeth I, found guilty of treason and executed at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire 20 years later. Although she was initially buried at Peterborough Cathedral, her body was exhumed in 1612 when her son, King James I of England and VI of Scotland, ordered that she be re-interred at Westminster Abbey.
But Christine Grahame MSP is demanding that the body be re-reinterred at Falkland Palace in Fife, where the Queen’s father died shortly after she was born and where she spent some of the happiest years of her childhood.
Ms Grahame said: "She was an iconic historical Scots figure and ultimately the victim of English plotting."
Nothing to do with a minor matter of treason, of course.
Mr MacMillan said the return of Mary's body to Scotland would be a ‘profoundly religious and spiritual event’.
A spokesman for the Catholic Church added: "Mary Queen of Scots is undoubtedly held in very great and affectionate esteem by Scots Catholics who admire her religious devotion and fidelity to the church. As such, there would be significant interest among many Catholics in any plan to repatriate her remains."
One may detect a tinge of guilt here. It is a pity they despised her while she was alive, in favour of her one-year-old son.
Alan MacInnes, professor of history at Strathclyde University, said it would be fitting for Mary's final resting place to be at Falkland Palace, adding that she ‘shouldn't be in England under any circumstances’.
Not even the express wish of her son?
A spokesman for Westminster Abbey said: "The body of Mary Queen of Scots was brought to the Abbey in 1612, 25 years after her death, on the express instructions of her son, in order that 'honour be done to the body of his dearest mother. That is a responsibility which the abbey takes very seriously, and the body has remained in our care ever since."
Cranmer has a number of observations. Firstly, perhaps a pedantic point, but one presumes Christine Grahame refers to Mary I, Queen of Scots (1542-1567), and not Mary II, Queen of Scots (1689-1694), who was the dynastic successor to James VII, King of Scots, after the latter had been formally deposed by the Scottish Parliament.
Secondly, Cranmer sides with Westminster Abbey on this. The Catholic monarch's body has lain at Westminster Abbey since 1612 because King James I and VI ordered that she be reinterred in the Henry VII Chapel. This was manifestly his wish, and he was somewhat closer to his mother than Christine Grahame is.
Thirdly, France might have just as strong a claim on Queen Mary’s corps as Scotland. She was a Stuart and was French in all but birth. She was also Queen of France, and her mother is buried in Rheims. There is a very strong argument for re-reinterring her in the Basilica of St Denis in Paris along with the other French Royals or, in the House of Stuart Chapel in St Peter's Basilica in Rome.
Fourthly, are not the SNP republicans?
And finally, failing the efforts of Westminster Abbey to retain the corps, Cranmer has a compromise solution. Since Mary was beheaded, why not let England have the body and Scotland have the head? This would be a most equitable distribution of the remains.