LONDON (AFP) - Queen Elizabeth II urged her subjects in the United Kingdom on Friday to come together “in a spirit of mutual respect and support” after Scots voted against independence following a divisive and heated campaign.
The monarch, who is currently staying at her Scottish estate of Balmoral, broke her official silence on a vote that had threatened to tear apart the 300-year-old union over which she reigns.
“Knowing the people of Scotland as I do, I have no doubt that Scots, like others throughout the United Kingdom, are able to express strongly held opinions before coming together again in a spirit of mutual respect and support,” she said in a statement issued by Buckingham Palace.
The 88-year-old acknowledged there were “strong feelings and contrasting emotions” after Thursday’s vote, which ended in a decisive defeat for the separatists.
“That, of course, is the nature of the robust democratic tradition we enjoy in this country. But I have no doubt that these emotions will be tempered by an understanding of the feelings of others,” she said.
The Queen said that Britons had in common “an enduring love of Scotland” that would help unite them, and urged everyone to “work constructively for the future of Scotland and indeed all parts of this country”.
“My family and I will do all we can to help and support you in this important task,” she said.
The Queen is known for keeping her views private and had made no official comment on the referendum, except to reportedly tell a well-wisher last weekend that she hoped people would “think very carefully about the future”.
A narrowing of the polls prompted a number of politicians to call for a royal statement in favour of the union, but the only response was a reprimand from the palace.
“Any suggestion that the Queen would wish to influence the outcome of the current referendum campaign is categorically wrong,” it said, insisting she was “above politics”.