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Who's King is it?

I got absolutely telt by a Twitter account called ‘@argyll_bluenose’ the other day.

…well, depends what you mean by telt.

He certainly gave me the ‘shoosh’ emoji at the end of the Tweet. I felt like there was a real sense of talking down at the question. As if it’s loony talk.

Not that I felt inferior, but I definitely felt like he felt like a superior… if you get me? Like he was a valued member of the Royal Family himself. Protectively shooing away criticism at every nook and cranny of social media. A loyal soldier to the Crown, putting down any establishment-questioners like a virtual game of whack-a-mole.

Maybe I’m overanalysing but the reason I mention is because of the familiarity.

Maybe the Union Jack emoji/hint-at-football-team Twitter handle combination strikes a psychological nerve somewhere for a man who grew up a Hibs fan, one that flares all sorts of unreasonable emotions. Something I’d definitely plead guilty to on several occasions in my life.

But I genuinely felt sorry for the people fighting so hard for the Royal Family yesterday. Argyll Bluenose included. Waving a flag towards a ceremony of riches whilst everyone else suffers. A gigantic palace sits by Arthur’s Seat, basically unhoused, rinsing energy bills we pay for under environmental laws only they abide to… whilst many fellow Scots live homeless and in poverty.

I’m not trying to patronise Royalist beliefs, I just genuinely don’t understand it.

When I grew up, Rangers fans used to come in their thousands to Edinburgh, sing Rule Brittania, God Save the (then) Queen, wave Union Jacks and celebrate a sense of Britishness when they scored a goal.

Besides the point, but they still do this.

And in amongst the havoc of the ‘Ned Shed’ at Easter Road, violent booing would always follow. They’d be called all sorts of horrible words and there would be a resounding sense of hatred towards these songs specifically. More so than any Rangers (football) song would.

I always understood it as seeing them as traitors to the honest, working Scot.

How dare they? Championing this out-of-touch, elitist residing of our country bathed in disgusting amounts of wealth.

A perceived sense of glory and prestige, all platformed by our neighbours south of the border. Scottish people wearing England tops at the football, draipsed in Union Jacks honouring the battle of ‘Culloden’ wherein Scotland ceased its national identity.

Nothing about this seemed Scottish to me. This speaks to absolutely nothing about our culture. The National Anthem is literally about reclaiming Scotland from this exact time period.

But as the saying goes, ‘that’s just them though.’

As in, that saying every Scottish football fan has in their vocabulary when talking about Rangers. ‘Aye, but you know what they’re like. They’re just like that.

That always intrigued me… what are Rangers fans actually like?

I used to discount the ones I knew in Edinburgh growing up because of the sin-like declaration of going through to Glasgow to watch your team going to school in Edinburgh. They didn’t ‘count’ in our eyes growing up.

I now respect that with family links etc it would’ve been hard not to. And, to be honest, all fan bases have their stereotypes, so analysis for these folk would be just as valid.

For those that don’t have a family link and choose to go through to Glasgow for the football anyway… do yourself a favour. Close the tab, head over to the mirror and give yourself a long overdue talk.

But I always wondered… what are ‘they’ (Rangers fans) actually like? I only ever seen them in a hostile, emotional environment at the game.

This changed when I lived in Glasgow.

I lived in Govan for a spell as it so happens. Right in the heart of it. My local was the Louden Tavern. My Subway station was Ibrox. My area was like all those memories of the away end at Easter Road had been thought-vomited onto the physical reality in front of my eyes. My first run was on a Thursday night was when Rangers had a game in Europe and I was right in amongst the fans.

I thought, ‘ah, so they are like this.’

I was wrong but… the experience I had at work in Glasgow didn’t match up.

I spoke to 3 Rangers fans at work and my experience of which was as follows:

The first was as staunch as they come… and yet one of his earliest declarations was that there is “no Union in this bear, pal.”

What a belter of a saying that was. Was hilarious when it came out.

He wasn’t just saying he didn’t get involved in ‘all that,’ he was actually a passionate supporter of Scottish independence. He told me stories about getting kicked out my local (the Louden) for standing up for this point of view.

The second was named after one of the most famous Celtic players of our generation. Bless him man. Perhaps he was more humble because of how tight he got it for that very reason, but he also confessed he wasn’t really bothered about ‘all that.’ Also as staunch as they come.

The last was staunch as well… I mean they’re all staunch, needless to say. I was more pleading these aren’t just plastic Rangers fans. You couldn’t pam them off as an example to say ‘aye, but they’re not the real ones. They’re not the true fans who would be like that.’

He admitted having been absorbed by the culture of royalist sectarianism as a kid but proclaims he’s a ‘reformed man.’

From the £400 flute he bought in his early twenties to looking himself in the mirror and admitting to being an often hostile bigot, he’d went on a massive mental journey through his life. He swears by no hatred at the football as he now brings up his family. He wears his Rangers top to Ibrox and happily goes with Celtic-supporting pals to the Scotland games. He’s no longer interested in all the “carry on.”

This reaffirmed my childhood understanding… that there was this one corner of society that gave it large about the Royal Family and Britannia ruling the waves but it’s only really the hardcore fanbase that genuinely believe in it. End of the day, to the lads I met through there, they’re Scottish and couldn’t really care less.

Suddenly yer hinkin, is tensions between Royalism and Republicanism quite an online thing? Is it really just football panto that doesn’t often translate into reality?

Many will be reading today thinking aye but… all you’ve talked about is football. What about the rest of Scottish society that isn’t interested?

That might be valid but in my experience there’s (almost) always a football lean to a family in Scotland. I feel comfortable analysing Scottish society in these terms on that admittedly presumptuous claim. Literally just coming from a ‘feeling’ that it’s reasonably accurate. If you want to disregard any analysis I’ve made at this point I wouldn’t blame you.

My gut also tells me something has changed in the past few years.

My auld man once said to me he thought the Scottish independence vote was swayed by half the country holding dear to this Presbyterian, loyalist culture.

I disagreed, saying the vote was largely down to middle earners not wanting a risk to their pay packet at the end of the month.

See now though, I’d agree with him.

I think Brexit has had a part to play. I think the engrained, hostile polarisation that social media has created also does. Maybe there’s several factors… but I feel like there’s been a turbo-charge to an archaic sense of Britishness and allegiance to Crown & country I wouldn’t have even recognised 10 years ago.

An experience I had in Aldi summed it up… after Queen Elizabeth passed away I overheard two workers without Scottish accents deliberating public opinion on the matter. There seemed to be a definitive conclusion: “Nobody gives a f*ck up here,” in their words.

And yet conversations you see online would have you laughing at that conclusion.

According to James Cook’s BBC analysis, public opinion holds up understandings I had as a kid. He cites “recent polling” that suggest support for the monarchy is “less than half” of us… if he means the research conducted by ITV news then it’s far closer to only a third.

He also said Charles’ reign treaded a ‘thin line’ with the strong correlation between Republicanism and Scottish independence.

Age groups under the age of 45 all overwhelmingly support independence if consistent polls have it right, and I don’t think there will be many flying the flag for King Charles. Cook cites the mere 20% of 16-24 year olds in favour of the monarchy according to YouGov.

So, maybe it’s a generation thing. The same study by ITV found that only 18% of folk under 25 care about the coronation UK-wide. Certainly makes sense in my experience.

The question still beckons though, who’s King is it then?


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