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"The Happy Connection of Two so Mighty Nations"

The following was published in The Daily Telegraph of 19 April 2014. We believe it is a valuable piece of history which needs to be more widely known, and better recorded. Therefore, we have transcribed it in its entirety below. Above, Glamis Castle where the letter from James VI was discovered. Pic from Wikipedia and used under creative commons licence. (Article follows>

Letter written by first king of Great Britain mirrors current campaign for the Union

Cousin of the Queen unearths a 400-year-old document that sounds as if it was written for today's independence debate

The Daily Telegraph online 19 Apr 2014, by Auslan Cramb

It was penned by the first king of Great Britain more than 400 years ago, but it reads remarkably like a royal intervention in today's independence debate.

A letter unearthed in the archives of a famous Scottish castle has revealed the remarkable enthusiasm of King James VI and I - sixth of Scotland and first of England - for the union.

The monarch was known to be an advocate of a single parliament, and the fragile document makes clear his conviction that the two nations are "better together".

It was penned a year after the Union of the Crowns, following the death of Queen Elizabeth I, and more than 100 years before the Act of Union that the Scottish National Party wants to rip up.

The owner of the document, the Earl of Strathmore and Kinghorne, said he was astonished to discover that it still sounds relevant in 2014.

Lord Strathmore, great-nephew of the late Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, and a cousin of the Queen, rediscovered the letter in the archives at Glamis Castle, where a statue of James guards the drive to his family's ancestral home in rural Angus.

He told the Telegraph: "Here they were 400 years ago, discussing something we are discussing today.

"They had the vision back then, all these years ago, to think it was a very sound idea to unite the two kingdoms."

The letter was written by James to his cousin, the 9th Lord Glamis, and praises the "inseparable union of the whole isle in one Kingdom".

The king was asking Lord Glamis to attend a meeting in Edinburgh in April that year to arrange the terms of the union.

It begins by stating that the Union of the Crowns has made "our power and estate greater", praises the joining of the wealth of England to the valour of Scotland, and suggests - as the current head of the Royal Navy did this week - that the two countries are now better able to defend themselves against foreign power.

The king, writing to his "trusty and well-beloved cousin", said:

"Whereby, the memory of all former mutual injuries being abolished, and the wealth of this country conjoined to the valour of that, we may be enabled the better to maintain our estate against all foreign power whatsoever, and transmit the Imperial Crown of Britain composed of the happy connection of two so mighty nations abundant in wealth and flourishing in peace to our posterity."

Dated March 29, 1604, and written in the Palace of Whitehall, the letter goes on to express the hope that no one will disagree with the benefits of the union "except some contentious spirits who (without regard to the honour of their Nations and the welfare of themselves and their posterities) would foster dissention, testify their hate of peace, and give proof of their disloyal intentions against all our Royal designs".

In a modern context, Alex Salmond, Scotland's First Minister, would undoubtedly fall into the category of "contentious spirit".

Lord Strathmore, 56, a former captain in the Scots Guards, said he believed that as a former soldier it did not make sense for "a tiny little island to have the top half of it less well defended".

"Four hundred years ago they had great vision in what they were talking about. Here we are all this time later trying to overturn something that is centuries old and common sense.

"This referendum is rather like having a punt on the Grand National. You don't know what the outcome is going to be."

Michael Fergus Bowes-Lyon, the colourful, three-times married 18th earl, was educated at Eton and Aberdeen University and went on to the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst before serving with the Scots Guards. He also qualified as a stockbroker in the City and was in the whips office in the House of Lords in the early 90s.

He is involved in the running of Strathmore Estate, the castle, which is open to the public, and, with his wife, he oversees David Irons & Sons Ltd, an ironmonger in the nearby town of Forfar that he saved from closure when he bought it in 2005. The countess is the former manager of the shop.

Glamis has been home to the Earls of Strathmore and Kinghorne for 600 years. Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother, was born Elizabeth Bowes Lyon, the 9th child and 4th daughter of the 14th Earl and Countess of Strathmore, and spent her childhood at Glamis.

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Find out more about James VI and the Union of the Crowns in our article here.


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