Her passing changed Scots history
FORMER politician Wendy Alexander has revealed how the death of Princess Diana could have changed the course of Scottish history.
At the time of Diana’s passing, Alexander was a special adviser to Donald Dewar, Scottish Secretary in Tony Blair’s newlyelected Labour Government.
Along with Murray Elder she was tasked with drawing up the blueprint for Scottish devolution and prepare for a two-question referendum on September 11, 1997, on creating a Scottish parliament.
Diana’s death less than a fortnight before referendum day threw the campaign into chaos.
“I was at work by the time that Tony Blair spoke at Sedgefield,” Alexander said of the morning of Diana’s death. “We now have plenty of experience of terrorist attacks and other events interrupting referendum campaigns, but there wasn’t recent experience.
“There was a decision to put the campaign on hold, and the Yes side felt they were the losers in that as we had some real momentum and a crescendo building for a Yes-Yes vote. But it was clearly the right thing to do.”
Talks followed on what the possible effect would be of the various emotions produced by the tragedy.
Alexander said she felt the weight of expectation around how Diana’s death would affect people’s view of Britain, and Scotland’s place within it. Ultimately, the vote was a “Yes-Yes”.
“Whether they had expressed it or not, people had made up their minds,” she said.
On Wednesday, the Duke of Cambridge and Prince Harry are to pay tribute to their mother with a visit to her memorial garden at Kensington Palace on the eve of the 20th anniversary of her death.
William and Harry, joined by the Duchess of Cambridge, will tour the White Garden, which has been planted in the Princess’s memory to mark two decades since she died.