Her pass­ing changed Scots his­tory

The Sunday Post (Newcastle) - - DEATH OF A PRINCESS: 20 YEARS ON -

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.

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