Jubilee highlights a complex relationship

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The Borders and the rest of Britain have changed a lot during the 60 years since Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne.

In 1952, you could get a suit made at Arthur Armstrong & Co.’s shop in Galashiels’ Bank Street for £4.19.6, the big film playing at the town’s Pavilion was On the Riviera, starring Danny Kaye and The Southern Reporter cost threepence.

Some things, however, don’t seem to change much at all. Borders troops will continue to face danger in Afghanistan, while six decades ago their grandfathers were in action in Korea, Malaya and Kenya.

What also has not changed, it would seem, is the affection in which the Queen is held by residents of this region – a fact borne out by news that the Borders submitted more applications for funding for jubilee community events than any other region in Scotland.

It is a bit of a strange anomaly, therefore, that Borderers voted for the SNP at the last Scottish parliamentary and recent local authority elections in greater numbers than ever before – a party with many politicians holding republican views, including local MSP Christine Grahame.

And it also says a great deal about the complexity of our relationship with our larger southern neighbour that, while hoping he can persuade a majority of his fellow countrymen and women to severe their links with the rest of the United Kingdom, First Minister Alex Salmond sees nothing contradictory in lodging a parliamentary motion calling for the monarch’s “long and close relationship” with Scotland to continue.

There are very few public events whereby people can gather and celebrate the same emotions at the same time. That is something that nowadays seems mainly the providence of large sporting occasions and rock concerts.

But here in the Borders we are lucky, as our common ridings and festivals provide opportunities to come together and celebrate our shared heritage.

Yes, we are proud Borderers and we will remain fiercely Scottish. But much has been sacrificed by Borderers in the name of Britain and her Queen over the last 60 years and, despite what the future may hold, we are for the time being still British – and should celebrate that fact this weekend.